Sunday, 26 September 2021

Veteran sculler in river boat drama

A SCULLER had a lucky escape after his boat was involved in a collision with a

A SCULLER had a lucky escape after his boat was involved in a collision with a launch during the Henley Masters Regatta.

American Carlo Zezza, who was unhurt, was moving on to the start when his single scull came into contact with a Hobbs of Henley boat on Saturday afternoon.

He managed to start the race against German Werner Bush but a split along the side of the Carl Douglas Racing boat caused him to pull out as water leaked into it.

The boat, which is about 90 per cent wood with Kevlar and carbon fibre elements, was made by the Chertsey-based company about five years ago.

Mr Douglas, whose company has been making boats for 40 years, said it was now in his workshop and was repairable if Mr Zezza wished but said it was a “big job”.

He told the Henley Standard: “This is an awful accident. This is a gentleman who’s fast approaching 80. He had the presence of mind to roll out of the boat just before the impact — this is my understanding. Had it hit him I don’t know he would have been alive, it’s that serious.

“The boat has been somewhat mashed — it’s crushed in the middle. I went to pick it up on Sunday. It’s still in one piece but not quite useable.”

He said the boat would cost about £8,500, plus tax, to replace and take about three to four weeks to build but there was a wait of about four to six months.

Mr Douglas said the two rowers would next face each other in Belgium at the World Rowing Masters Regatta in September.

He said: “Werner came to Carlo and said, ‘look, that wasn’t really fair, we’re going to race again when we go over to Belgium. Let’s say the Henley medal goes to whoever wins there’.”

It is understood Mr Zezza is a member of the Cambridge Boat Club in Massachusetts.

Maggie Neale, the regatta’s safety advisor, said: “As part of British Rowing’s standard procedure we will be compiling a report on the incident.”

Jonathan Hobbs, managing director of Hobbs of Henley, said: “We were made aware by the hirer of the vessel at about 6.30pm on Saturday. It was a small, self-drive motor launch that collided with the scull.

“The hirer came in at the end of the day and was very sensible about it and gave an account of what happened and a written report which we have forwarded onto our insurance company. I’m sure the matter will be resolved as quickly as possible.”

Mr Hobbs said the Olympic Class launch held a maximum of 10 passengers but only five were on board on Saturday.

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