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Sir Peter Blake’s former yacht breaks free of mooring during Auckland storm

The strong winds that battered Auckland overnight tore legendary sailor Sir Peter Blake’s former yacht Archangel off its mooring.

It was among a raft of damaged to the city after fierce gusts of up to 139km/h were recorded in Auckland overnight, sending trees toppling, container ships tumbling and damaging numerous powerlines across the city.

The yacht, which has in recent years become part of the St Heliers’ landscape and is a well known sight to locals, was pushed backwards onto the reef at the eastern end of St Heliers near AchillesPoint during last night’s storm.

Archangel is currently perched at a 30-degree angle, with the bottom of the keel on the sand and is slowly starting to stand up as the tide comes in.

The boat’s long-term owner, Michael Bundock, who purchased the Blake family yacht from Lady Pippa in Barcelona in 2004 before lovingly restoring it, said at this stage there appeared to be no damage to the vessel.

It didn’t even look like the side of the hull had hit the bottom, he said.

Bundock was woken in the night when the yacht’s alert sounded, notifying him that the boat had moved.

He braved the weather and went down to St Heliers beach in the pitch black around 3.30am to find his yacht had already broken free and eased itself back into the sand.

“It hasn’t been thumping or bashing around. It should be able to slowly stand itself up and then we should be able to refloat it.”

Bundock would be able to better assess the damage when the boat righted itself after high tide this afternoon. A marine towing company was on standby to tow the boat back to its mooring if needed.

Bundock said he usually moved the yacht if it looks like the wind is going to be too strong, but had been expecting a more southerly wind overnight, which would have meant Archangel would have been sheltered from it.

The yacht has stayed on its mooring in larger storms before, but Bundock thinks the 180-degree change in wind direction in the past two days since he moored it on Saturday may have turned the anchor around and “popped it out”, pushing the yacht backwards on its 100m anchor chain.

Strong winds rocked the upper North Island including Auckland and the Coromandel overnight, leaving emergency services, lines operators and roading contractors with a big clean up today.

The strongest gust was recorded off Awhitu Peninsula on Auckland’s west coast at 139km/h. The southwesterlies swept through the region at about 3am this morning, with gusts of more than 110km/h recorded in multiple locations.

Vector is also working tirelessly to restore power quickly and safely after a number of suburbs across Auckland were plunged into darkness this morning.

A Vector spokesperson said a number of areas had already had the power restored and work will continue across the day to get power back on for more customers.

“While the weather is expected to improve this afternoon, we thank the public in advance for their patience while our crews work on the repairs. We understand the impact that power outages can have on customers, and our teams are doing all they can to get those affected back up and running.”

The traffic chaos on Auckland’s motorways and roads has eased but four lanes continue to operate in each direction as occasional strong gusts continue. The strong gusts of up to 110km/h earlier this morning have eased.

MetService has issued a strong wind watch for Northland, Auckland, Great Barrier Island and Coromandel Peninsula north of Thames and Tairua until 2pm today.

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