The threat of hitting containers from the Rena has led to the cancellation of this weekend's Auckland to Tauranga Yacht Race.

Organisers made the decision this morning after heavy swells this week of up to 10m had caused more containers to be released from the stricken container ship the Rena, which has been stranded on Tauranga's Astrolabe reef since October last year.

Race favourite TeamVodafone Sailing, who had ben targeting the race record, had earlier withdrawn because of the danger posed by the containers in the latter part of the race.

South-easterly winds, often up to gale force, are forecast for the weekend and race chairman Ross Sheerin said safety came first.


"The race organising committee has been monitoring Rena developments throughout our planning. Unfortunately the events of the last few days equate to our worst case scenario in terms of holding the race. We have been in constant contact with Maritime New Zealand and Tauranga harbormaster, and have evaluated their input. Regretfully, and in respect for participant's safety, the only prudent option at this stage is to cancel this year's race.''

The Auckland to Tauranga race has been sailed most years since the first known foray down the Coromandel Peninsula in 1921.