The Auckland Anniversary Day Regatta has been cancelled for only the second time in its 183-year history following the devastating flooding that hit the city on Friday.
In a statement on Sunday, organisers said the strong winds and the heavy sea state forecast for tomorrow, as well as reports of substantial debris in the harbour from the rain, prompted the decision.
Four people died and a state of emergency was declared for Auckland on Friday as the city, and other parts of the North Island, received record rainfall.
Dozens of roads were closed and property damaged in the storm.
“We're looking at marginal conditions on Monday with the wind strength, the sea state, and the Harbourmaster has reported a lot of dangerous debris in the water from all the rain, so the safety of everyone involved is our number one concern," said regatta chairman David Stone.
"With emergency services already stretched dealing with the flooding across Auckland, it would be irresponsible to go ahead. We also have a social responsibility, and the committee strongly felt it would be inappropriate to hold a regatta while the city of Auckland is suffering as it is. As a regatta that has always been by and for the people of this city, we stand by those who have suffered loss or damage in this weather event, and our thoughts go out to you all."
Stone thanked the volunteers, sponsors and participants for their support.
More rain and gales are expected over the coming days, with warnings of possible slips and floodings.
The only other time the regatta has been cancelled since its inception in 1840 was in 1900, due to the war in South Africa. Last year's event went ahead largely unaffected despite Auckland being at the 'red' level of the then Covid-19 Protection Framework.
The Auckland Anniversary Day Regatta is one of the world’s biggest single-day sailing events, with several fleets of classic yachts, launches and tugboats, as well as dinghy and radio-controlled yacht sailors at venues around the city.
Some 360 paddlers in 45 Dragon Boats were also expected in Auckland’s Viaduct Harbour this year, and the event was set to feature a new launch parade around Westhaven and the Auckland CBD waterfront, in celebration of the last 100 years of power-driven craft design.