The stage is set for the ITM New Zealand Sail Grand Prix, which returns to Whakaraupō Lyttelton Harbour this weekend, 23-24 March. More than 100 SailGP athletes and staff were hosted at Rāpaki marae this morning with Te Hapū o Ngāti Wheke welcoming SailGP manuhiri (visitors) to the spectacular venue.

Blair Tuke, co-CEO of the recently-rebranded Black Foils, New Zealand SailGP Team said: “The ceremony this morning was very special for everyone in SailGP, especially for us being the home team, it's really great being welcomed down here. We're pumped to be back, it looks amazing here and conditions are going to be great. We want to put on a good show for our fans and the team's absolutely motivated to do that.”

Season 4 // Peter Burling at Christchurch Powhiri

On site, preparations are in full swing at the purpose-built Race Stadium at Naval Point, which is set to welcome more than 22,000 fans across the weekend. This year will see the return of popular fan experiences, including the already-sold out Platinum Lawn and private Shoreline Villas for businesses who will entertain clients and friends at the event of the summer. Limited seats remain in the Race Stadium (reserved grandstand seating), and fans are encouraged to get in quick to avoid missing out. On-land viewing will be complemented by a flagged spectator fleet of more than 100 boats.

Season 4 // Christchurch event gets underway with official powhiri

Speaking at this morning’s ceremony, SailGP managing director Andrew Thompson said: “New Zealand fans are among the most passionate and engaged in the world, and the Banks Peninsula is the perfect venue for the stadium-style, inner-harbour racing SailGP is known for.

“This weekend will prove to be an incredible showcase for our sport, as well as for the beauty and cultural richness of New Zealand, which will be on full display.”

All ten teams hit the water tomorrow (Friday) for the first day of official practice racing. The Black Foils will be on the search for victory after being denied the home event win in Season 3 by Canada’s Phil Robertson. Heading into the ‘business end’ of the season, all teams will be in the hunt for critical points ahead of the Season 4 Grand Final in San Francisco.

The ITM New Zealand Sail Grand Prix | Christchurch begins 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. Find out more at