Cats bring the party on water and on land
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Cats bring the party on water and on land

SailGP is coming to Lyttelton Harbour in March, the first time these insanely fast catamarans have raced in New Zealand, and everything is pointing to thrills and spills on the water and party time on the hard.

It’s Season 3 of the event. Already racing has been held in eight centres, from Bermuda in May last year to Singapore in January. The New Zealand team, skippered by Peter Burling, came out on top in that event, cementing their position as the main threat to Tom Slingsby’s charge for a third straight season title for Australia.

Lyttelton’s former reputation as a partying port town will no doubt get a new lease on life during the event. And what can’t fit into Lyttelton will spill over to Christchurch, so expect the bars to be pumping!

SailGP has been likened to Formula 1 on water. Nine teams compete in short, sharp fleet races close to shore. The foiling catamarans hit speeds of 90kmh and are often clearly on the very edge of control as they race around the course.

All eyes are now on the next leg, in Sydney on February 17-19. New Zealand sits second in the overall standings. The Kiwis are also the only team besides Australia to win more than one event this season.

Then it’s Lyttelton, March 18-19. Tickets to the Fan Village on the Lyttelton waterfront sold out in a day last year but there are plenty of other good viewing spots on the Port Hills and across the water in Diamond Harbour.

There will also be a free fan zone on the grass in front of Te Pae, in central Christchurch, offering big-screen viewing of live race coverage on both days.

For those lucky enough to have snapped up tickets, the Fan Village offers a festive race-day atmosphere and grandstand seating just metres from the course. As well as being up close to the racing action, punters will enjoy live entertainment and a curated offering from some of Christchurch’s best-known restaurants.

The New Zealand Sail Grand Prix is the final stop before teams make their way to San Francisco for the Grand Final.

New Zealand SailGP Team Driver Peter Burling says he and the team are fizzing to come down. “Lyttelton is a world-class sailing destination and shaping up to be one of the most exciting venues on the SailGP calendar, with amphitheatre style seating and some of the best on-land viewing you can get.

“It’s been awesome to see so much momentum building behind the team and we can’t wait to get back out there and race in front of fans at home,” he says.


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