Saratoga County

Helping hand gets BH-BL rowers back on calmer water

Rowers from the Burnt Hills Rowing Association got on the water this week for the first time since H

Rowers from the Burnt Hills Rowing Association got on the water this week for the first time since Hurricane Irene, but it wasn’t in their usual spot.

Damage to their docks and conditions on the Mohawk River have made it impossible for the team of Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake High School students to row from their entry point in Alplaus next to the Mohawk Valley Marina. Instead they’ve been rowing on Ballston Lake and using the dock of Brad Krupa, whose son is a coxswain with the team.

“My son and I were talking … and we said, ‘What do you think about practicing over here?’ We’re really involved in the sport and we realized the river has been a mess,” Cooper said. “We’re big water people … so we wanted to help out.”

All this week, and possibly next, dozens of rowers are coming to his house on Lake Road to practice. The long lawn leading up to

the lake is scattered with boats and equipment to move them, with piles of backpacks also on hand when the students are there after school.

Rowing head coach Mike Meier said there is a 50 percent chance that they can get back on the Mohawk River next week. “If that doesn’t work out, we’ll be back here,” he said. “It has not been the perfect situation, but we’ve been able to get on the water and have some really decent practices that we couldn’t have at home right now.”

In the immediate aftermath of Irene the team was limited to land training as they couldn’t even get to their damaged docks that had been ripped up and in some cases floated downstream. Then the rainfall from Hurricane Lee ensured that they still wouldn’t be able to get back on the Mohawk.

“Our biggest concern is that when we put the kids on the water there is no danger to them,” Meier said. “Debris is a big concern and water levels.”

He added that they’ve been in constant contact with the state Canal Corporation about safety questions.

The only downside of the location, which is closer to the high school, is that the one short dock makes it take longer to load boats into the water. Now more of their two-and-a-half-hour practice is taken up with getting boats in and out of the water, but Meier said that was a small price to pay.

A small group of high school freshmen and sophomore girls waiting to get into the water said they enjoyed the different location. They all agreed that they liked the “clean water” and said they were happy to be back on the water, even though the lake was shorter than they were used to and required lots of turning.

The time on the water is particularly important now, with a scrimmage today in Albany.

The team is hoping to repair the docks for the fall season and replace damaged pieces in the winter. Coach Meier said they need to raise at least $20,000 for all the repairs and replacements, which is not covered by FEMA or insurance.

“We’re going to be doing some fundraisers,” Meier said. Their efforts will include a letter campaign calling on alumni to contribute and they might sell T-shirts.

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