Hail lands blow on regatta
ROWING: Rather than going home with medals and trophies, some schools that visited the Clarence Valley for the annual Head of the Clarence River Regatta went home with damage bills after their boats were caught in the heavy hail storm that lashed Grafton on Saturday afternoon.
Regatta chairman Neville Doughan said the competition had only got about halfway through their program of events before the hail hit.
"There was a lot of damage done to the boats, probably into the thousands of dollars of damage," he said.
"Gregory Terrace had their boat just about destroyed, Nudgee College and Somerset College all had boats damaged too.
"When you talk about some of the boats that were there they usually start at about $40,000 each, so it was pretty substantial the damage that was done."
Doughan said while he was disappointed the regatta couldn't go ahead, he was glad there were no serious injuries.
"It was a shame we got caught in the middle of it but our safety protocols that we had in place worked, it's just a shame about the damage," he said.
"While the storm was disappointing, it was actually one of our smallest entry fields we've had, the smallest in 12 years, so maybe there was a little more than divine intervention there.
"We had around 500 to 550 racing seats and we've had anything up to 1200 sometimes."
Doughan said the smaller turnout to the annual regatta was a result of changes in holiday dates between Queensland and NSW.
"Queensland schools went on holidays on the third week of November, with the Sydney schools breaking up a little later," he said.
"We will look to next yearnow and get those numbers back up again hopefully.
"The trophies will stay shiny for next year."