It was anything but good luck for the Good Luck shell Wednesday at the 193rd running of the Royal St. John’s Regatta.
The boat suffered extensive damage in a collision during the first men’s race of the day and those who witnessed the accident, said they’d never seen anything quite like it.
No one was seriously injured when Quality Plus, with coxswain Dan Harte and rowing in the Miss Labatt, and Lamb’s, coxed by Diana Gibbonsn in the Good Luck, collided during the turning of the buoys. The Good Luck was damaged so badly it had to be taken out of competition.
Quality Plus coach John Barrington, who is also a member of the Regatta Committee, said Lamb’s, at Stake 5, was turning the buoy first and as Quality Plus was coming into the buoy from at Stake 4, the bow of the Miss Labatt shell hit the Good Luck shell near the No. 6 oar.
The hole produced in the $25,000 shell was estimated to be about four or five inches in diameter. It was taken out of competition for the rest of the day. There was no significant damage to the Miss Labatt.
The Good Luck turned over when the oarsmen pulled their oar to the side of the boat which made the boat unstable. When a few of the Quality Plus crew began to step into the safety boat, the shell started to roll over sending four or five of the crew into the water.
Joe Lake, who was wearing a life jacket in the safety boat, jumped into the water to assist the rowers.
Barrington said a few of the rowers sustained some bumps and bruise, but nothing serious. He said one of rescue boats bumped into the overturned shell after the rowers had been rescued.
Barrington, a long time rower and member of the Regatta Hall of Fame, said he’s seen accidents before, but nothing like what happened Wednesday.
While Barrington wouldn’t comment on which boat was at fault, The Lamb’s crew was given permission to row for a time in the Memorial University Male Masters/Islander RV Male Midget Race to qualify for the Men’s championship Race. The team finished fourth in 10:21.61 and failed to qualify for the final.
Quality Plus did not row again.
“We have fairly strict right-of-way rules,” said Royal St. John’s Regatta president Wayne Young. “The first one in the buoy has the right of way, so the crew coming behind has to stop or slow (down).”
Regatta vice-president Don Kelly said, while he didn’t see the incident, he has talked briefly to both coxswains and crews.
“I don’t think it was the right time to get too involved with it in terms of what happened,” said Kelly.
“We just wanted to make sure everyone was OK.”
He said anytime there’s “a major incident like this,” it will be reviewed by the Regatta Committee.
Kelly said he has no idea if there will be any suspensions if a crew is ruled to be at fault.
He said the only thing the committee was concerned with was the safety of the crews as well as the people in the safety boat “because it was fairly traumatic for them, too.”
The vice-president said the committee will “take a look at all of the issues and see how we can improve things in the future.”
Kelly said there have been incidents on the pond over the years, but it’s been many years since something this serious in terms of damage and having to rescue people from the water.
“This is definitely a rare incident,” he added. “If it can happen to top crews, it can happen to anyone.”