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Northampton community rowing group seeks help to replace destroyed boat

The Northampton Community Rowing shell was damaged beyond repair during the Paper City Regatta in Holyoke, an accident that could impact the team’s performance at the Head of the Charles Regatta in October, according to head coach Erin Andersen.

Andersen said the crew of nine was less than 1,000 meters into a 4,000 meter race Saturday when the 60-foot boat struck a partially submerged tree on the river near the Chicopee boat ramp.

Typically, she said, race organizers mark hazards in the river to alert crew members, but this one had been marked with a buoy which apparently drifted off, and thus was not seen until it was too late.

The impact ripped a hole in the hull of the 8-year-old boat, left a huge crack, and buckled the frame, she said.

“It looks like an accordion,” said Andersen. She said she and the rest of the team are grateful no one was injured in the accident.

But the destruction of the boat leaves the team with other racing shells that are not of the caliber of the damaged boat. That situation, she said, could negatively impact the team’s performance in Boston.

The other boats are “old and tired” Andersen said.

The team, made up of about 90 girls ranging in age from 12-18, and about 30 adults, has made an appeal to the public asking for help in raising enough money for a proper boat before the regatta on Oct. 21 and 22.

Andersen said anyone who wants to contribute to the team’s effort to buy a replacement boat should visit the team’s website, www.hampcrew.com.

Andersen, who took over coaching duties in May and was a former rower for the University of Connecticut said the damaged boat was built in 2004 and was purchased by Northampton Community Rowing from Princeton University in 2009.

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