It didn't take long for the rowing community to rally following a fire that destroyed a trailer full of equipment and boats being pulled from Texas to a Saturday regatta in Oklahoma City, an accident that could have prevented some 30 members from Austin Rowing Club and Texas Crew from competing.
Even before the official police report could reach the Austin Rowing Club, where club president Nicole Goad was answering calls and directing the response to the Friday accident - and subsequent "melting" of an estimated $200,000 worth of boats and oars - everyone slated to race was being directed to equipment being loaned to them by local rowing clubs competing at the Stars & Stripes Regatta in Oklahoma City.
"The next morning is always the time where you think, did that really happen," said Goad Saturday morning. "We're still waiting on a final report from the police department, but luckily the rowing community is just a fantastic group of people who want to pitch in and help. So, local crews in Oklahoma are letting us borrow their boats so that we can actually go ahead and compete.
"I'm not quite sure exactly how they are doing just yet," Goad said early Saturday. "I am working on the administrative side here in Austin, but I know everyone is excited and ready to race. We had melted boats yesterday, how bad can a race be today?"
While the full details of the accident are not yet complete, Goad said equipment from both the Austin Rowing Center and Texas Crew were being hauled to Oklahoma City on a trailer owned by Texas Crew, when the trailer's safety chain came off on Interstate 35 in Alvarado, Texas.
The chain apparently dislodged the trailer hitch from the truck, sending the trailer skidding on the highway, with the chain dragging and kicking up sparks. The trailer went into a grassy ditch and the dry grass caught fire, Goad said.
"Thankfully, the trailer just kind of swerved off into a ditch, but the chain whipping through the very dry grass started a fire and it completely melted the boats. There is nothing but ash left," Goad said. Goad said Austin lost five boats and Texas Crew lost three or four boats and their trailer.
While the club equipment was insured, there was also private oars and equipment destroyed and replacing the full cost of the lost boats would be a burden on the club's finances.
Trailer leaving for Oklahoma City from Texas
"These were some of our very best boats," she said. "It's an awful loss. Goad said club members have already started a GoFundMe account to raise money to replace the boats; Texas Crew, which owned the trailer and also lost shells and equipment, has a GoFundMe page as well.