Sailing: Jimmy Spithill latest to vent frustration over controversies at SailGP in Lyttleton

Jimmy Spithill, one of sailing's most notorious figures, has added to the chorus of those frustrated with the controversy during the latest SailGP event in Lyttleton.   

Dolphins in Lyttleton Harbour prevented sailing on Saturday, leading to concerns that Sail GP may need to find another part of New Zealand, if it is to return in 2025.  

SailGp’s CEO Sir Russell Coutts later slammed officials for their "extreme" policies that meant racing couldn’t go ahead.  

Newshub's now learned that both Spithill and several teams feel the same way, with the Australian saying it's the fans who are suffering most.  

"I think it's just frustrating," said Spithill.   

"And clearly, anyone involved in the sport is super conscious about the environment and we take it really personally about caring for it and leaving it in a better place. But I just feel sorry for all of the fans.  

"All the stuff you learn on foil boards and wing foiling, applies to the top end. Americas Cup, SailGP, it's just a great way to open it up to more kids," said the America's Cup icon, former SailGP driver, and man that New Zealanders used to love to hate.

Like many, Spithill was one of the many frustrated fans who was left waiting for sailing to get underway due to the pod of dolphins.  

"If that happened in the America's Cup, and you were sailing, how would you feel about it? I don't think we're going to see that happen in the America's Cup. We've raced through Auckland with no problems."   

Team New Zealand react as as dolphins delay racing during SailGP.
Team New Zealand react as as dolphins delay racing during SailGP. Photo credit: Getty Images

And it could be Auckland where it ends up landing.  

Newshub understands some teams are concerned about the future of the event in New Zealand, with many believing that Lyttleton isn't a viable option if red tape remains.  

"At the end of the day, athletes want to go out there, and they want to compete. And they want to race," Spithill continued.   

Meaning that smaller foiling boats could be all that's seen on Lyttleton's shores.