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SailGP races brought in more than $14 million, 80,000 fans to Halifax

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Organizers say the SailGP race event in Halifax brought in more than $14 million in revenue and attracted more than 80,000 spectators.

This marked the first time the international sailing competition known as SailGP took place in Canadian waters. Organizers are excited for the races to return to Halifax, but some say more details and logistics need to be ironed out with the SailGP organization.

Ross Jefferson, president and CEO of Discover Halifax, was involved in the bid process to host the event and said the "world-class" racing event was a major success.

"The preliminary review of the economic impact was around 14 million dollars," said Jefferson.

The Halifax Regional Municipality and the province of Nova Scotia were both involved in the bidding process and each spent $1 million to earn the right to host the racing competition.

Jefferson said the $2 million investment paid off and called the race weekend a success on all fronts.

"It was well participated," said Jefferson. "It was exciting, dynamic and fast and a little bit scary at times."

Discover Halifax president and CEO Ross Jefferson is pictured. (Source: Jesse Thomas/CTV News Atlantic)

Team Canada racer Billy Gooderham who lives in Bedford, N.S., said the Halifax crowd was the largest and loudest they've ever raced in front of.

Most of the spectators were new to the sport, said organizers, as only seven per cent of those in attendance said they had attended a SailGP event before.

The TV audience for the June 1 and 2 races reached more than 749 million viewers, which aired on CTV and TSN.

Jefferson is optimistic about the future and looks forward to hosting more international races in 2025 and 2026.

"We are very interested in having them (SailGP) back again," said Jefferson. "It comes down to the final details and those items are being worked on right now."

During the race weekend, SailGP chief operating officer Julien di Biase said intend to return to Halifax and are in the middle of putting next season's racing calendar together.

The challenge for SailGP is the need a lot of space for their technical site, where the 10 international teams can store and load equipment like their catamaran racing vessels.

The technical site this year was located on the Dartmouth side of the Harbour at the King's Wharf, which was vacant, but it won't be available next season when construction will take over the site.

"We’re on the hunt for another site alongside the waterfront where we can set up our technical yard," said di Biase.

From a fan perspective, Jefferson says the Halifax waterfront is the perfect setting for racing and they look forward to the chance to host again and build off the initial success.

"There's a general understanding that both parties want to come back," said Jefferson. "But there are some real logistics to account for." 

For more Nova Scotia news visit our dedicated provincial page.

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