Fallen tree destroys seven Niskayuna crew boats

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NISKAYUNA, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Sunday night’s strong storms brought down trees across the Capital Region, and one of them landed on a rack of pricey boats belonging to Niskayuna Rowing. Seven boats were crushed when the tree fell, leaving seats for 45 middle school rowers demolished just a month before the fall crew season begins.
It’s the tail end of a tranquil day on the water. Rowers work in harmony, docking and carrying the boats to land where a chaotic scene is revealed.
“Oh my gosh, it’s so painful to look at,” said Stacy Apfelbaum, the program director of Niskayuna Rowing.
An entire fleet of boats, mangled. The carbon fiber racing shells, buckling under the weight of a fallen tree.
“All of this is about 150 thousand dollars,” said Apfelbaum.
She says the loss of the boats wipes out the middle school rowing program, of which Rebecca Schmidt is a part of.
“I was like really shocked because I’ve never seen a boat have that much damage before,” she said.
Some of the newer boats are insured, but the older ones are not. Peter Verardi, who owns a boat repair shop, assesses the damage.
“When they’re in the water they’re very sound very strong, but when you put a tree on them they can’t possibly survive that,” he said.
He comes to a quick conclusion.
“This is a disaster, all of these boats are total losses,” he said.
They’re the same boats that launched Arielle Behar’s college rowing career.
“Those are the boats I grew up in and learned how to row in, and those were the boats where my love of rowing started, so without them I wouldn’t be rowing today,” he said.
But just as rowing is a team effort, it will take a community to get the boats back on the water. Apfelbaum is confident that come the start of the fall season, middle schoolers will be back in boats. “We will make it work. We will have enough seats for every child once we get states in September,” he said.
She says they’ll be reaching out to the booster club for help. Niskayuna Rowing is affiliated with the school district, but all the equipment is owned by the club. Learn more here.

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