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Boatshed Fire Disrupts Training

Forty three racing boats plus oars, ergometers , speedboat engines and other equipment belonging to Sydney Uni Rowing and NSWIS, valued at around A$1,000,000 were lost in the 5am fire that engulfed the Linley Point boatshed of Sydney Uni Rowing today. As coaches arrived for training they could see the fire had started in the bottom ( boat) level . The intensity was already such that they could not approach the building and the fire brigade was called ? they were on the scene within minutes but could do little to save the famous A- frame shed. The heat eventually became fierce enough to buckle the major steel members of the frame and the shed collapsed. By 8am there was no remaining sign of the boats or equipment in the rubble.

At this stage no cause is apparent with police and fire investigation officers saying the remaining building is too unsafe to enter. Investigations will be delayed until it is safe for experts in fire to go onto the shed site. Much of the floor has been burnt leaving gaping holes and charred and weakened boards between investigators and the water.

The blaze was captured in still shots and video by residents of Burns Bay and broadcast on most news channels.

Sydney Uni Sport Director, Greg Harris and President Bruce Ross were on the scene early to assess the damage and speak with athletes and coaches on hand. The immediate priority for the Club is to ensure as little training disruption as possible for the twenty or so rowers who have been invited to the final National Selection Regatta at Penrith in three weeks. By late today due to many offers of fantastic generosity by the rowing community our coaches were able to confirm a schedule of resumed training starting at the Nepean this Saturday and Sunday and continuing from St Ignatius boatshed at Lane Cove from next Monday.

Meanwhile meeting of all rowers and coaches with SU Sport will be held Friday morning to begin our strategy for competing in 2006-7 in changed circumstances. At the same time planning has started for a Project User Group to start work on re-building planning. It is hoped with insurance payouts and help from our alumni that Sydney Uni rowing will once again boat from Linley Point in the not too distant future.

The Linley Point boatshed was opened in 1964 and was the direct result of our club?s most generous benefactor, Thyne Reid. Reid rowed at St Andrew?s College and SUBC in the mid to late 1920?s representing Sydney at several intervarsities. In the early 60?s Thyne Reid gave the university a large block of land with and very large 6-8 bedroom house in Wrights Road , Drummoyne for the use of the Boat Club. Thyne Reid envisaged a clubhouse on the waterfront portion of the land with the house becoming both a ?clubhouse? and accommodation for rowers.

Soon after construction was begun on the foundations for a shed it was abandoned ? some say because of resident?s objections. The university then suggested to the Boat Club that it resume use of the Wright?s Road property and in return would construct the club a boatshed at a site to be located. The Committee of the period with Eric Longley pushing persuaded Lane Cove Council to allow access to the current site which is leased from Waterways. Dennis Rourke, and alumni of the 1950?s was engaged to design the unique giant A-Frame that has been SUBC?s home for the past forty years.

For both current and former rowers today?s events have brought back great memories of a wonderful training environment in which lifelong friendships were formed. A new shed will in due course arise from the ashes of our A-Frame ? in the meantime the Club will need real help from it?s alumni to stay an the water and competing at our current level in 2006-7.

The Club will hold a ?wake? for our old shed and to support the current rowers at 10.30 am on Sunday 9th April. We are inviting all of Sydney?s rowing community and all of Sydney University?s sporting community to come along. Details will be available by Friday this week



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