Dolphin delay

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

24 March 2024


Racing in the ITM New Zealand Sail Grand Prix | Christchurch was due to start at 3pm local time, when 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 race course area, meaning that racing could not take place.

Speaking about the cancellation, Australia SailGP Team driver Tom Slingsby said: “It was really unfortunate, as the conditions were perfect and it would have been a great show for all of the fans. Hopefully we can get some good racing in when we resume tomorrow.

“We were next to the fans for most of today, and we got a lot of cheers and a couple of chants about me which I won’t repeat, but I found it very entertaining, and had a good laugh. I wouldn’t expect anything else from a Kiwi crowd.”


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.”

“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.”

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 thousands of fans across the weekend, with only limited seats remaining in the grandstands for tomorrow (Sunday’s) final showdown.

Fans were also treated to a special performance by New Zealand music legend Sir Dave Dobbyn, who delighted thousands of Kiwi fans with his classic hits across the day, including ‘Beside You’, ‘Be Mine Tonight’, and ‘Slice of Heaven’.

Racing is set to begin again Sunday 24 March at 1pm AEDT on Kayo Sports Freebies.

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