The most memorable regatta ever!! – for the wrong reasons.
Rowing conditions on the Saturday of the CDRA Championship regatta were perfect for the first 57 races of the 162 race program. Before the lunch break, the weather was ideal for rowing although possible showers had been predicted for the afternoon. The water was as calm as could be with very little wind. After lunch, the sky looked more threatening with dark clouds over the hills on the horizon to the south and a couple of lightning flashes although they were a long way off – no thunder was heard. Around 2.30pm, the sky to the west looked more ominous with grey veils of rain moving towards us. At about 2.45pm, the referee directed that no more crews should boat and, as the competitors from Race 57 were leaving the water, the only rowers on the river were the U19W1x finalists at the 2000m start.
Race 58 progressed under normal conditions until they reached 1300m when all hell broke loose.
The regatta site was hit hard by wind and rain that rapidly escalated in intensity. Rowers ran to tie down boats, supporters struggled to pull down marquees, then everyone ran for cover as a mini-cyclone hit the rowing club, peeling off the roof and scattering it through the boat park. The extreme storm lashed the regatta site for about ten minutes and when it subsided the boat park had been devastated. All competitors from Race 58 were retrieved.
One of the Newcastle Grammar coaches had been struck by flying debris and was taken to hospital with head injuries (now recovering we are told). Newcastle Grammar had significant damage to most of their fleet, many of which are write-offs. All other clubs lost boats but none as drastically as Newcastle Grammar. Endeavour’s damages included the single scull ‘Ibis’ smashed into 3 pieces, 2 fist sized holes in ‘The Hunter’ and a broken handle on a sweep oar. Endeavour’s new “storm proof” marquee might have survived if a “helpful” member of another club had not removed the pegs holding the frame down when our members removed the canopy. With nothing to hold it down, it cartwheeled to destruction. June Lacey’s car, parked facing the boat park in the path of the flying roof, had been battered by roof joists and roofing iron and has multiple panels in need of repair.
The regatta was called off.
Before the storm hit, 15 of Endeavour’s 41 entries raced for 3 wins and 6 third placings.
Mens 1000m Seeded Single Sculls: Sean Donza.
Womens 1000m Seeded Double Sculls: Katrina Whiteley, Diana Trescott.
Mens D Grade Four: Robert Weatherall, Sean Donza, Dave Percival, Prentice Bond, Conrad Bond.