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Sculling Team Scuttled

MUDCAT FALLS -- Two thirds of the Mudcat Falls Community College Fighting Gourds men's rowing team was lost this week while practicing for the Spider Rapids Fall Regatta after a head-on collision with a coal barge.

"Nope. Didn't feel a thing," said Captain Ahab Fitzgerald, skipper of the Lizzie Bordon tugboat, which was pushing six barges each loaded with fourteen hundred tons of coal, upriver. "Like squashing skeeters with a Peterbilt."

The 3600 horsepower Lizzie Bordon had just cleared Lock and Dam #19 and was angling to round Gila Bend when four eight-man shells darted in front of Fitzgerald. The rowing shells, sixty feet long and weighing approximately two hundred pounds, are made of carbon fiber, offering little resistance to the steel bow of the lead barges.

It is unclear why the coxswains failed to see the forty foot wide, one hundred sixty-five foot long barges bearing down on them. Observers on shore stated that the crews had just settled into a thirty-five stroke per minute race cadence and were travelling at a very high rate of speed, when the impact occurred, though the Gourds Rowing Team's consistently poor racing finishes this season might tend to contradict such eye witness testimony.

"Whatever -- I gotta get my offense ready for Saturday with a quarterback on academic suspension and a fullback in the drunk tank," said storied MFCC football headcoach Woody Molar, who also coaches men's and woman's rowing, upon learning the news. "They probably couldn't row fast enough to get outta the way."

Gila Bend has been the site of a number of recreational powerboat collisions with commercial river traffic over the years, but this is the first recorded accident involving a human powered craft.

The Go Team from the National Transportation Safety Board completed their investigation in thirty-five minutes. Their final report is expected to be released in approximately nine months.

2004 MFTHPPPGT




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