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SailGP cancel Auckland event four months before start - Auckland business reacts

by Richard Gladwell Sail-World NZ 21 Nov 2023 16:28 PST 22 November 2023
NZSailGP was repaired an Event earlier than expected - SailGP Technologies - Lyttleton - March 2023 © Ricardo Pinto/SailGP

Auckland Council's Event arm Tataki Auckland Unlimited, has issued a media release stating that it "can confirm that SailGP has made the decision to not stage the event in Auckland in March 2024."

"Tataki Auckland Unlimited worked with SailGP to explore all possible options to stage the event here and, along with Auckland Council group, had solutions for SailGP’s on-water course and on-land seating plans," the statement continued.

"However, the unavailability of Wynyard Point land as a spectator facility proved to be a barrier to holding the event in Auckland. This land was part of SailGP’s original vision for the sailing competition."

The statement then continues to talk about other events that are on in Auckland.

The SailGP regatta would have been held on March 23-24, 2024, and would have been the highlight of the new Moana Auckland event which is running from February 23 to March 24, 2024.

"We are excited to showcase Auckland’s Waitemata Harbour and waterfront at the inaugural Moana Auckland, New Zealand’s Ocean Festival in February and March next year. Aucklanders and visitors can look forward to enjoying a range of activities and events, including the Millennium Cup superyacht regatta, Wooden Boat Festival, the popular Auckland Boat Show and the new World Manu Champs alongside some amazing entertainment for the whole family." the statement concluded.

At a recent launch function for Moana Auckland, it was made clear that Auckland lacked a continuity of major events, and that the Moana Auckland was proposed to plug that omission on an ongoing basis, with the objective of staging significant events in Auckland that would add to the region and marine industry profile.

Targets of several million dollars in economic return were mentioned.

The SailGP event, was tellingly not mentioned at the Moana Auckland launch function.

Reaction to the decision, and its implications for Auckland accommodation and hospitality businesses around the Wynyard Point and Viaduct Harbour are covered here

Auckland has hosted three America's Cups, for which major planning exercises were undertaken of possible venues, in 1988, 1995-96, 2017-19. The former Emirates Team New Zealand base, now released Viaduct Events Centre also hosted several Volvo Ocean Race stopovers, which included haulout of the fleet and sail servicing by the Volvo Ocean Race organization.

No comment has been made by the SailGP organisation.

It was claimed by Auckland Unlimited that the sticking point was the unavailability of space on Wynyard Point, alongside the for INEOS Britannia America's Cup base, now leased by Emirates Team New Zealand. It was claimed that SailGP wanted to be able to construct a 5,000 seat grandstand at the end of Wynyard Point, but a legal entanglement over the remediation of the area - formerly used for the storage of fuel and hazardous substances.

A full description of the remediation can be seen here Demolition on the site started around the end of the 2021 America's Cup. The website says that the Resource Consent for the remediation was granted in August 2022, and started in October 2022 and was expected to take nine months finishing in June 2022.

Originally Auckland Christchurch were to share the hosting of a New Zealand event. The 2023 Christchurch event was staged on Lyttleton Harbour earlier this year, and due to have been held again in 2025, with Auckland hosting 2024 and 2026. News bulletins in New Zealand today claimed that part of the Event Hosting fee that would have been paid to SailGP, have recently been allocated to fund a Cold Play concert in late 2024. There has been no comment from Mayor Wayne Brown, who is a longtime sailor and boat-owner, and a senior member of Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron.

Despite requesting a statement, Sail-World has not received any release or comment from SailGP. The event is still being shown on the SailGP website, as being staged in New Zealand, at a venue to be confirmed, on the original dates.

In a story in the Christchurch Press, the city is being urged to takeover the vacated event from Auckland. The Press claims there is an agreement with SailGP for an event fee of $1million per regatta staged, plus a further $500,000 of contribution in kind.

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