Sir Russell Coutts bringing global yachting series Sail GP to Christchurch

Sir Russell Coutts has always had a pretty good knack for timing but his latest move, notably off the water this time, may be one of his best yet.

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Sir Russell’s global yachting series will head to Christchurch this year. Source: 1 Sport

Just as the America's Cup is grabbing attention, Sir Russell has launched a New Zealand round of the Sail GP; a global yachting series which uses foiling catamarans.

However in a perhaps a surprising tack, it won’t be Auckland hosting the round.

Sir Russell is instead taking the event much further south to Christchurch and Lyttelton.

Sir Russell listed the water conditions, wind conditions and the fact that you can have the event village in close proximity to the race course as reasons to take the event there.

Being Dunedin-born may have helped too.

“I was fortunate to grow up in the South Island and I will always consider this my home,” he said at today’s announcement.

A local team led by Peter Burling and Blair Tuke has recently been announced for the series, giving New Zealand fans a reason to get out and watch the action.

TVNZ sailing commentator Peter Lester, who grew up sailing in Lyttelton, said even if there wasn’t a New Zealand crew on the water, there’s still plenty of reasons to watch the event.

“It'll be very, very visual to see those 50-foot catamarans on Lyttelton Harbour,” he said.

“Who would have ever thought that would have happened but in this crazy world of Covid and the America's Cup and the politics of the Cup, it'll be great.”

Whether the move is political or not, it's a massive coup for the Garden City with significant economic impact and a broadcast audience of 250 million forecast.