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Dolphin Activity Halts Racing on Opening Day of ITM New Zealand Sail Grand Prix | Christchurch

Racing was cancelled on the opening day of the ITM New Zealand Sail Grand Prix | Christchurch, due to mammal activity on the racecourse for the duration of the race window.

A traditional Maori Waka passes the Platinum Lawn prior to racing on Race Day 1 of the ITM New Zealand Sail Grand Prix in Christchurch. March 23, 2024 – photo © Ricardo Pinto/SailGP

As racing was due to start at 3pm local time, confirmation was received of a dolphin sighting on the racecourse. In line with SailGP protocol, racing was delayed to allow the dolphin to pass through safely but unfortunately it did not move outside the racecourse area, preventing racing from taking place.

Sir Russell Coutts, SailGP CEO, hosts a technical area tour to Dave Dobbyn on Race Day 1 of the ITM New Zealand Sail Grand Prix in Christchurch. March 23, 2024 – photo © Ricardo Pinto/SailGP

Speaking about the cancellation, SailGP Managing Director Andrew Thompson said: “It was a really challenging day today and disappointing for the capacity crowd that turned out. We have a marine mammal plan and that plan was in place and unfortunately it meant we couldn’t sail today.

The SailGP F50 catamaran fleet moored around the Main Stage and Platinum Lawn on Race Day 1 of the ITM New Zealand Sail Grand Prix in Christchurch. March 23, 2024 – photo © Felix Diemer / SailGP

“It was a tough day for the league and our super passionate Kiwi fans. The athletes were ready to go, the conditions were epic and we were looking forward to some really fast racing. The conditions are looking really top end for tomorrow, so hopefully the F50s will be out there ripping around and we can send the fans home super happy.”

Black Foils driver Peter Burling said: “It’s pretty disappointing not to get racing today, not just for us, but for our fans, who came down to cheer us on. The support from the stands was incredible and a big thank you from all of us. We hope we will be back on the water and put on an amazing show tomorrow.”

Spectators in the grandstand cheering the New Zealand SailGP Team as they wait on the water whilst the racing is on hold due to a dolphin sighting on the course on Race Day 1 of the ITM New Zealand Sail Grand Prix in Christchurch. March 23, 2024 – photo © Brett Phibbs/SailGP

The lack of racing did not dampen the mood of the crowd who filled the purpose-built Race Stadium at Naval Point, which is set to welcome up to 22,000 across the weekend. Kiwi music icon Sir Dave Dobbyn proved why he is a national treasure, belting out his extensive repertoire of classics, entertaining an adoring crowd across the day on the Platinum Lawn and broadcast to the entire venue.

Only limited seats remain in the grandstands for tomorrow’s final showdown (Sunday, March 24) via SailGP.com/Christchurch. Racing is set to begin again tomorrow from 3pm NZT.

ITM NEW ZEALAND SAIL GRAND PRIX //
Day Two Racing: Sunday, March 24 3.00 – 4.30pm NZDT

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