Sydney University Boat Club (SUBC) rower Hannah Scarborough remembers vividly the ferocious storm that damaged the Manning River Rowing Club on March 9, 2019.
The rower, who was in Taree earlier this week as part of the visiting club's summer training camp, was competing for Hunter Valley at the time in the Central District regatta in Taree.
She recalled a storm warning being issued early in the morning but along with other rowers "didn't think much of it".
By mid-afternoon singles races were well underway but when competitors started to line up for the women's single championship, conditions began to deteriorate.
"As we started to get crews sent off, we were thinking about boating quads for later in the afternoon and we started to see some rain coming over the mountains," Hannah said.
"As it started to get a bit worse we saw it come across the river but we didn't think anything of it.
"You get storms at regattas all the time so it's no big deal."
The weather worsened but boats continued to head out on the water. Once rain hit the Martin Bridge and thunderstorms began to form, the call was made to stop boating crews.
That's when one of the worst storms to hit the Manning began to rear its ugly head.
Hannah said the storm was 'full on' when it hit, complete with strong winds and huge gusts.
"It was a bit too late for some crews already on the water," Hannah said.
Her Hunter Valley crew worked to hold down tents and boats but under the pressure of heavy rain and strong winds the gear was swept up and smashed into fences.
"Even though we did our best, we lost about half our fleet," she said.
All clubs suffered damage, with Newcastle Grammar losing 20 boats.
Hannah said some competitors, who were stranded on the water during the storm, were lucky to escape.
Some of the Hunter Valley and Newcastle Grammar athletes rendered assistance while Manning River officials raced out in a crash boat.
During the melee, the roof was torn off the Manning River Rowing Club building.
"As bad as the damage was it could have been a lot worse and it was really lucky no one got seriously injured," Hannah said.
During their recent Taree camp, SUBC utilised the adjacent sailing club. While the team appreciated the facilities, Hannah said the team was looking forward to using the new rowing club when the rebuild is complete.
Almost two years after the storm took place, the new-look rowing club is starting to take shape.
The $1.5 million project will be finished later this year.
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