Gale-force winds have helped TeamVodafone Sailing set a new record in the Coastal Classic yacht race - and forced several teams to withdraw before the race even began.

Race director Jon Vincent said the windy conditions at yesterday's start of the race eventually died to "a whisper of a breeze", which helped the leaders finish in a record pace but left stragglers struggling to get home.

TeamVodafone Sailing broke its record by the slim margin of three minutes, crossing the finish line after five hours, 41 minutes and 44 seconds.

Mr Vincent said this morning that more than a dozen teams were still to complete the Auckland to Russell Yacht Race.


The last vessel is expected to finish about 10am.

"It's a beautiful day and there isn't an ounce of wind," Vincent said.

"There's a whisper of a breeze to get the last few boats home.

"The race started in extremely challenging, gale-force conditions, which caused a number of boats to withdraw because they felt they weren't ready for the conditions. [But] it was perfect conditions for sailing."

TeamVodafone Sailing skipper Simon Hull said the race was "on the cusp of being too windy".

"There were a lot of ups and downs in the puffs, we sailed a long distance," he said.

"It was a boisterous day out there."

Triple 8 finished at 16:56.47, and Taeping at 17:35.03.