Record numbers of fans showed up this weekend to support the first weekend of the 36th America’s Cup Match – with 48,000 in the Race Village on Saturday alone. 

The Waitematā Harbour was also busier than during December racing or the Challenger series. Approximately 1,100 vessels headed out on the water for Friday afternoon’s matchups, 1,500 boats headed out on Saturday and 1,300 on Sunday. 

Steve Armitage, Auckland Unlimited General Manager Destination says Friday’s midday shift to Level 1 was welcome news not only for the Cup, but for businesses and event organisers in Auckland.

“The atmosphere was incredible this weekend, not only in the Race Village and out on the water, but in businesses and at Summernova festival sites around Auckland,” says Armitage. 

“Takaparawhau Bastion Point, Windsor Reserve and Takapuna Beach Reserve each had hundreds of spectators throughout the weekend enjoying live racing, entertainment and activities for the entire family.” 

Lifted restrictions also meant fans could Rock the Dock on Saturday. During the broadcast singalong to Rod Stewart’s hit ‘Sailing,’ there were 16,000 fans in the Village and 1,400 across three Summernova sites, plus, hundreds more at regional fan zones around New Zealand.

Live music in the Village and at Summernova events kept the good vibes going into the evening, including performances by local favourites, White Chapel Jak at Devonport’s Race Days by the Sea in Devonport on Saturday, and classic Kiwi rockers ZED and The Feelers in the Village on Sunday. 

Takapuna Business Association Chief Executive Terence Harpur says the weekend provided a much-needed lift to business on the Shore, particularly with two consecutive days of racing on northernmost Course A. 

“Takapuna was buzzing with a beautiful festival atmosphere and lots of people enjoying the racing on Takapuna Beach Reserve. There was a great atmosphere in cafes, restaurants and bars throughout the afternoon,” says Harpur. 

At other venues, Tāmaki Makaurau’s bicultural identity shone proudly, including Te Pua, a festival programmed by mana whenua, which transformed Silo Park into a whānau-friendly celebration with kai stalls, weaving and waka carving demonstrations, hāngī, ta moko and more.

In addition to farewelling Emirates Team New Zealand in true warrior fashion each day, host iwi Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei also welcomed fans to Bastion Point for Kia Kotahi Race Days at Takaparawhau, two afternoons of live racing on the big screen with epic views of the Waitematā Harbour and racing in the distance. 

“As kaitiaki for the 36th America’s Cup, we’ve worked in partnership with mana whenua to ensure events and activity in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland celebrate and share Auckland’s living, breathing Māori culture with residents and visitors alike,” says Armitage. 

Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli and Emirates Team New Zealand enter the week with three points each after three days of tied results and one with no wind. Races will continue Monday, 15 March and each day after until one team earns the seven points required to win the Auld Mug.