Event data has revealed the sweeping benefits of inaugural ITM New Zealand Sail Grand Prix for Ōtautahi Christchurch, which had a total economic impact of NZD $13.9 million for the host city regional economy, as independently audited by Deloitte. Total visitor spend measured in excess of NZD $8.1 million (USD $5M).

Held 18-19 March 2023 on Whakaraupō, Lyttelton Harbour, more than 12,000 unique attendees attended the sold-out event in Lyttelton. Tickets sold out within hours, with organisers releasing an additional 900 seats just days before the spectacle.

With more than half of attendees traveling from outside Christchurch to take part in the action, the ITM New Zealand Sail Grand Prix generated nearly 23,000 visitor nights in Christchurch.

Season 3 // New Zealand Sail Grand Prix // Wing foilers in Christchurch

Electronic Card Transactions (ECT) analysis also showed an uptick in spending in Lyttelton over race weekend, with ECT visitor spend in the township up 14% between February and March. ECT spending in the city centre during this period (16-19 Mar) saw a 10% increase.

The event also put the natural beauty of Ōtautahi Christchurch and culture of Aotearoa New Zealand firmly on the world stage, with more than 136 million watching the racing from 205 broadcast territories. More than 400,000 New Zealanders watched SailGP’s long-awaited home debut, which was shown on ThreeNow, Three and Sky Sport NZ.

Off the water, SailGP made waves with a range of initiatives to spread the benefits of hosting outside the race village and into the local community. 665 young people were engaged through SailGP Inspire - the league’s education and community outreach programme. Among them, 92 youth sailors trained and raced on the F50 course, 450 students took part in learning initiatives and 20 interns gained real-world employment experience, working with international teams and SailGP departments.

Two purpose projects, funded jointly by SailGP and ChristchurchNZ, delivered lasting impacts locally - including support for the Ōmaru Stream Restoration Project, and the fast tracking of real-time acoustic monitoring for Hector’s dolphins in Whakaraupō, Lyttelton Harbour.

Head of the New Zealand event Karl Budge said, “We’re incredibly proud of the inaugural ITM New Zealand Sail Grand Prix and its impact on the local community.”

“Everything from racecourse design, the fan village, and the newly-developed facilities at Naval Point provided us with the ideal venue for the stadium style racing SailGP was built for. The feedback from our fans, partners, international teams and staff alike has been that New Zealand set a new benchmark on the global, season calendar,” Budge said.

Of attendees surveyed, 98% reported they were satisfied or very satisfied with their experience at SailGP - and residents agreed, with 95% reporting that “hosting events like SailGP increases my pride in Christchurch.”

With Season 4 now underway, the ITM New Zealand Sail Grand Prix heads north next year, making its debut in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland 23-24 March 2024. The event returns to Christchurch in Season 5 as part of a four-year partnership with ChristchurchNZ, Tātaki Auckland Unlimited and New Zealand Major Events.