Rena Disaster brings competitive and recreational sailing to a halt

NZ’s top 49er crew and aspiring 2012 Olympic representatives Peter Burling and Blair Tuke train regularly in Tauranga - seen here competing in the 2010 Skandia Sail For Gold Regatta
Natalie McDowell

The Rena Disaster has impacted on both centreboard and keelboat sailing in Tauranga.

The disaster will have a significant effect on another of New Zealand's top sailing centres, with sailing also being badly disrupted in Christchurch after a multiplicity of earthquakes.

Evening racing was cancelled earlier this week.

Sailing outside the harbour is fraught due to half submerged containers floating towards the harbour entrance, plus many containers have split open and spewed their contents into the water. This flotsam includes pallets of timber, dairy products and animal pelts.

Sailors have been asked to refrain from launching off beaches, there is potential for damage to rescue boats from the oil slicks, plus the oil could get tramped through clubs and boat sheds.

Similarly with oil getting sucked into yacht and launch cooling systems and causing damage.

At this stage it is not known how long the effects of the Rena Disaster will be felt on Tauranga sailing, initial estimates that it will be until Christmas - assuming no further spills.

As of Thursday the port has been put under curfew in that all shipping movements are prohibited during the hours of darkness due to the prevalence of containers.

The oil slick is spreading south, but as the wind shifts into a SW direction and increases in strength the slick is expected to move north.