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Hail destroys regatta boats

Hail, some larger than golf balls caused serious damage to boats attending Saturdays Head of the Clarence River rowing regatta in Grafton. Image: Contributed

Lynne Mowbray

Saturday’s ‘Head of the Clarence River rowing regatta’ in Grafton was cancelled due to a huge storm which hit the city around lunchtime.

As the storm quickly approached, organisers of the regatta cancelled the event around 12.45pm.

Around 12 rowers who had gathered for the start of the 2000m event upriver, got out of their boats took shelter in the reeds on the side of the river bank covering their heads from the golf ball size hail, with their boats bow identification number plate.

The events organising committee president Neville Doughan said that the rowing master from Somerset College on the Gold Coast was injured during the wild storm.

“The rowing master was unsuccessfully attempting to hold the college tent down,” Mr Doughan said.

“A gust of wind picked them both up and threw them eight metres across a fence, causing serious ligament damage to the man’s shoulder.

“He later attended the hospital to be assessed.

“Several cars were also damaged by the hail; some of the hail was actually bigger than golf balls.

“There was also substantial damage to the boats including a $60,000 imported boat owned by St Joseph College Gregory Terrace, Brisbane.

“There were five boats with holes in them and St Josephs College Nudgee in Brisbane had three of their Canadian imported Hudson boats receive serious dints, rendering them almost right offs.

“None of us have ever seen hail at a regatta like this before.

“We are just so fortunate that this year’s event had a low turnout,” he said.

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