In less than 24 hours, the most exciting racing on water makes its long-awaited return to Ōtautahi, Christchurch. With Peter Burling back at the wheel, the recently-rebranded Black Foils will be in the hunt for a home win after being pipped by Canada in Season 3.

Speaking at this morning’s pre-event press conference, Burling said: “We’re always going for the win and this weekend is no exception. It’s going to be an awesome event, and looking like a step up in breeze from last season too.”

Season 4 // New Zealand F50 against Lyttelton Harbour backdrop

But Canada SailGP Team driver Phil Robertson indicated he wouldn’t give up so easily: “We’re happy to do it again - that’s the plan. I’m a Kiwi as well and it’s awesome to race at home in front of all the fans. We’ve got massive support. The conditions look epic and we’re here to defend the title.”

Official practice racing was held earlier today on Whakaraupō, Lyttelton Harbour, with all ten teams hitting the water for the first time in Season 4. Tomorrow will mark Burling’s first day racing since missing last month’s KPMG Australia Sail Grand Prix for the birth of his first child. After covering for the Kiwis in Sydney, SailGP veteran Nathan Outteridge announced earlier this week that he’d step in for Swiss driver Sebastien Schneiter for the remainder of the season.

Season 4 // Peter Burling at Christchurch press conference

Having now provided paternal cover to three SailGP drivers in Season 4, Outteridge said: “It’s really good to know there’s some consistency ahead. It’s quite difficult stepping into different teams and trying to deliver results, hopefully we can build a bit over the next few events.”

With a record-setting crowd of 22,000 expected across the weekend, Burling said: “The amount of support we’ve had from home has been incredible. Kiwis love getting behind us and supporting us. We love seeing the fan base grow and grow, and the vibe around town is amazing already. When we’re racing, you definitely block out the noise but to have your friends and family cheering you on gives us even more motivation.”

Christchurch marks the ninth event on the record 13-event Season 4 calendar. And as the ten national teams draw closer to the SailGP Season 4 Grand Final in San Francisco (13-14 July), all teams will be battling for critical points to ensure a spot in the winner-takes-all three-boat race - with USD $2million on the line.

Asked about the height of competition - and battle with the Black Foils in particular - Australian driver Tom Slingsby said: “As an Aussie sportsman, it doesn't matter what sport it is, you want to come to New Zealand and beat the Kiwis on their home turf. It’s one of those bucket list items you want to do. Winning in New Zealand over a top Kiwi team is hard to do. It's a mountain to climb but we love motivation like that.”

The ITM New Zealand Sail Grand Prix | Christchurch begins tomorrow Saturday 23 March, with live racing between 3-4.30pm on both days. Fans can catch all the action LIVE on Three (linear) plus live and on-demand on ThreeNow. Limited tickets remain for both days of the event, via Ticketek NZ. Find out more at