Preparations near completion for World Rowing Championships

Published on: September 21, 2017

A team training for the 2017 World Rowing Championships, which starts Saturday at the Nathan Benderson Park in Sarasota, rows past the Finish Tower and still under-construction view grandstand. CARL MARIO NUDI PHOTOS


An army of workers was busy during the past several weeks preparing for the 2017 World Rowing Championships at the Nathan Benderson Park in Sarasota County.

Manatee and Sarasota counties are hosting this international event from Sept. 23 through Oct. 1, which is only the second time it has been held in the United States.

Preparations are on schedule despite having Hurricane Irma whip through the area.

More than 1,700 elite athletes, coaches, and trainers from about 70 countries have been training at the event venue in Sarasota and other sites throughout Florida, including the Manatee County Fort Hamer Rowing Facility south of Parrish, for this international rowing regatta.

The World Rowing Federation or FISA (from the French, Fédération Internationale des Sociétés d’Aviron), the governing body of the sport of rowing, are the organizers of the 2017 World Rowing Championships.

One of the top national rowing teams, New Zealand, was practicing at Nathan Benderson Park on Monday, the only Grade A course in the United States.

“The whole team seems to be doing well (during training),” said Robbie Manson, 27, who holds the world record of 6:30.740 for the men’s single scull, won at the 2017 World Rowing Cup II in Poznan, Poland, in June.

“We did well during the World Cup season in Europe and hope to continue here,” said Mason, who has been rowing competitively since he was 16 years old.

The preparations for the nine-day event included construction of a viewing grandstand for fans, Champions Row Suites and Pavilions, the Fan Fest and food vendors’ area, athlete and boat facilities and much more.

The viewing grandstand for the 2017 World Rowing Championships to start Saturday at the Nathan Benderson Park in Sarasota nears completion.

“It’s amazing to see all these preparations come together,” said Max Winitz, media and public relations manager for the local organizing committee.

“Irma really had no impact on the venue,” Winitz said. “A few newly planted trees came down, but, on the infrastructure none whatsoever.”

He said a couple of teams had to reschedule their flights, but all airline problems were resolved, and the teams have arrived or are en route.

The first event to be held at the rowing facility on Sept. 23 will be the 2017 Youth Regional Challenge with heats starting at 1:30 p.m. This event is free and open to the public.

Many of the youth teams trained all week at the Fort Hamer Rowing Facility.

Every day during the international rowing competition, a Fan Fest and Expo of vendors, a beer garden, food trucks, and activities for children and families will be held.

The World Rowing Championships is the highlight of the international rowing calendar during the non-Olympic years, and just as during the Olympics, the event will open with a ceremony and spectacle that will highlight the area’s rich circus history.

New Zealand rowing team member, Robbie Manson, 27, is the world record holder for the men’s single scull event.

Fans also will be treated with live music and entertainment, fireworks and other activities. The event starts at 5 p.m., with the official ceremony beginning at 7.

Just like the youth rowing regatta, the opening ceremony event is free.

More information and ticket prices for the 2017 World Rowing Championships can be found on its website at

For more information about the participating international teams and athletes visit FISA’s website at