All it took was a large swell and 30 seconds to sweep a racing yacht on to a seawall on Waitemata Harbour, causing about $30,000 of damage.

Ian Millar had just finished sailing in the Ponsonby Winter Series when his yacht, Recreation, was caught in yesterday's ferocious wind.

"A big swell came through just as we dropped the sails and the motor wasn't strong enough to go against the wind and the tide. We tried to get the headsail up to give it some more power, but when the swell came through it took us sideways too quick ... and then we couldn't get the bow out so we got carried in.

"It only took 30 seconds, then it was history," said Mr Millar, of Northcote.


There were a lot of people about and Mr Millar is just thankful that no one was hurt.

"You can replace a boat, but you can't replace somebody's arms or legs. One of our own crew even almost got his leg caught underneath it."

The police and the Coastguard arrived shortly after Recreation was swept on to the rocks by Westhaven Marina, but there wasn't much they could do, Mr Millar said.

After battling the weather and sea for most of yesterday, they managed to use a 50-tonne crane to lift the yacht off the rocks and on to a cradle.

"And it doesn't look as bad as I thought it was going to be," Mr Millar said.

"But the insurance company can come down and check it out and I'll find out what they're going to do with it, where they're going to take it and if they can get it repaired so I can get back to racing it."