Sailing: SailGP organiers hope to proceed with scheduled NZ stopover, despite horrific weather event at Sydney

SailGP organisers hope to proceed with next month's scheduled stopover in Christchurch, despite the horrific weather event that forced the cancellation of racing at Sydney over the weekend.

High winds struck the sailing base after racing had completed on Saturday, tearing the mast off Canada's boat and hurling it through a temporary building on the compound, destroying the structure.

Sailors, shore crew and media sprinted for cover, and were still shaken the next day, when the remainder of the regatta was abandoned, amid fears the series calendar would be further disrupted.

Christchurch is due to host the next event on March 18/19, with the Grand Final scheduled for San Francisco in May, but organisers now think those regattas may continue relatively unaffected.

"We are incredibly fortunate no-one was seriously injured in Saturday’s weather incident and that's absolutely the most important part," SailGP NZ posted on Instagram. 

"Following initial inspection, it appears damage across the fleet is less than previously thought and while further assessment is needed to determine a full inventory, it's looking like we'll be able to race in Christchurch and San Francisco as originally planned."

SailGP NZ head of event Karl Budge is still recovering from the incident.

"It was reasonably scary," he told Newshub. "It's one of those things you're never prepared for.

"You just wanted to make sure everyone was safe and be together as a team, and thankfully we were able to do that really quickly.

"We're really confident there won't be any delays to Christchurch."

The cancellation of further sailing at Sydney has set back New Zealand's hopes in general classification, with the three races completed on Saturday counting towards the overall standings.

After their boat was damaged by lightning at Singapore last month, the Kiwis were competing in a borrowed boat and were forced to withdraw from the opening race, suffering an early penalty and mechanical difficulties.

They bounced back with third and fourth in the subsequent fleet races, but sat only sixth in the regatta, when competition was suspended.

They remain in second overall, behind two-time champions Australia, but they now have France - declared winners at Sydney - Great Britain and Denmark all lurking close behind.

"It's great we're coming into our home event in second place," said Budge. "It's all about getting into that top three for San Francisco, then it all comes down to that one race at San Francisco.

"We just need to be on the starting line and our track record in the shootout finals has been pretty amazing, three wins from four events. I'm pretty sure none of the other teams want to see us in the final."

The 15,000-capacity venue at Lytellton Harbour has already sold out for next month's NZ stopover, an event that had to be cancelled last year during the COVID-19 pandemic.