Sailing: New Zealand Sail GP team forced to use loan boat for Sydney regatta due to lightning damage

New Zealand will be forced to use a loan boat for the next leg of the Sail GP in Sydney, after their "fried" F50 Amokura was rushed back to Auckland for urgent repairs.

Further investigations revealed extensive damage to the vessel, which was struck by lightning just moments after winning the Singapore Grand Prix last week.

With the crew safely onshore, lightning hit the top of the mast, injuring Denmark grinder Martin Kirketerp, who suffered an electric shock.

The boat will undergo full inspection, repairs and stress testing at Sail GP Technologies in Warkworth, as they race to have it ready for the competition's NZ debut in Lyttelton on March 18.

The NZ Sail GP team celebrate their win in Singapore.
The NZ Sail GP team celebrate their win in Singapore. Photo credit: Getty Images

The NZ leg is one of three Grand Prix left on the calendar, with the team looking to consolidate their second place on the ladder to ensure they're in the mix for the three-boat series finale in San Francisco, where the winner will pocket US$1 million (NZ$1.5m).

“Since [the strike] we've realised that the damage to Amokura is pretty significant," said wing trimmer Blair Tuke.  

"Quite quickly we discovered that all of the electronics on board were fried. On a lot of the hydraulic components - especially the titanium parts - you could see where the current had been, leaving scouring.

"Over the coming days in Singapore, more and more issues started to crop up and that’s when the decision was made to bring Amokura back to Aotearoa. Very thankfully everyone on board the boat was okay, and that’s absolutely the most important part."

Peter Burling and Tuke will now use boat six in Sydney, formerly the Japan boat, which has been used by the Canada Sail GP team - who have just received a new boat from Warkworth - throughout the season.

With all of the boats essentially identical, Tuke doesn't foresee any impact to their chances of returning to the top of the podium in Aussie.

"One of the cool things about SailGP is that when you’re lining up, you know you're racing against a boat that's exactly the same as yours," said Tuke.

"We have in the past sailed other teams’ boats in training days - it’s been awhile since we’ve done that, but you can hardly notice the difference other than some of the visual references."