New Zealand’s rowing stronghold of Christchurch has been hit by a devastating earthquake. This is the second big earthquake to hit Christchurch since a 7.1 shock in September last year and the already damaged rowing boathouses have been left virtually beyond repair.
The September shock caused extensive damage and meant that rowers could not use the waterways for two months because of polluted water. With the latest quake it is likely that the boathouses will not be able to be saved. The boathouses include Avon Rowing Club, Union, Christ’s College and Canterbury Rowing Association.
The boathouses are situated at Kerrs Reach on the Avon River and the river has been closed as the breakdown of city infrastructure means sewage is going directly in the river.
Rowing club damage - Christchurch -
John Wylie works as the regional manager of rowing for the Christchurch (Canterbury) region and he could not hide his emotional and sombre tone when describing the destruction of the region.
'A lot of boats have been knocked to the floor,' says Wylie, 'and at this stage there is absolutely huge amounts of liquefaction which has forced up about 30cm of subsoil.
'All in all it’s a massive setback and it could be the death of the buildings. I think either extensive repair or demolition. It could well be that the council will not allow us to rebuild there.
'The scale of the damage (in Christchurch) is mindboggling and I think sport and recreation will have to take a back seat to rebuilding the city and infrastructure.'
Earthquake damage on the banks of the Avon river -
Of immediate concern for rowers are crews training for New Zealand’s most important high school regatta, the Maadi Cup, that is to start at the end of March. Already this weekend’s secondary schools regatta on the nearby Lake Hood has been cancelled as the difficulty for rowers to get to the regatta course, especially in light of the damaged roads, makes it not viable to continue with the regatta.
The earthquake, which Wylie described as a violent jerking motion, especially impacted on Christchurch’s inner city and so far the death toll is at 113 with over 200 still missing. Wylie says that so far he has not heard of any rowers hurt.
'It was an absolutely frightening experience,' says Wylie who has lost the roof on his home. 'I was in the rowing club the day after the quake and there were two aftershocks. It was deafening.'