The size of teams already scheduled to compete at the World Rowing Championships in Sarasota range from the estimated 125 for the United States all the way to Pakistan and Benin, a pair of nations sending only one athlete each to Nathan Benderson Park in September.
A preliminary list of teams already committed to the 2017 World Rowing Championships was released Tuesday, and 47 teams already have booked hotels for September and October in the Sarasota metropolitan area. During the next two months, as European rosters are finalized, the World Rowing Championships’ staff is expecting as many as 30 more teams to be added.
“In Europe and other parts of the world, there are still regattas taking place,” said Max Winitz, the media and public relations manager for the 2017 championships. “Once they finish, the countries will decide on rosters.”
The announcement of the preliminary fields coincides with an important checkpoint for the world championships: As of Tuesday, there were 60 days until the championships begin at Benderson Park. Opening ceremonies are Sept. 23. The next two months will be primarily concerned with finalizing the infrastructure that needs to be in place by the end of September, which includes the completion of a handful of permanent construction projects and the setting up of a number of other temporary structures.
47Nations that have already committed to competed in the 2017 World Rowing Championships.
The temporary additions are the primary concern of the World Rowing Championships staff. The permanent structures fall under the jurisdiction of the Suncoast Aquatic Nature Center Associates Inc. (SANCA) and Benderson, the park it operates. The world championships staff is overseeing the construction of temporary covered grandstands to bolster the limited seating options at the facility and of the athletes’ tent village for the potentially 70-plus nations competing. Shipping containers holding foreign teams boats should soon begin showing up at the facility.
The biggest and most-publicized permanent addition to the facility is the finish tower, which will be unveiled to the public Aug. 8, Winitz said. The $6 million, six-story building will house race officials and a VIP section at the world championships. But SANCA has one other permanent project to finish: a starting hut that will house officials and timing cameras during the championships and serve as a pavilion on non-event days.
“That will be in place for our event,” Winitz said.
Even though SANCA is undergoing a leadership change within weeks of the event’s start date, the World Rowing Championships have largely been unaffected by the change in leadership, Winitz said. SANCA announced Stephen Rodriguez as its new CEO; he starts in early August, replacing outgoing CEO Bob Sullivan.
“We’re just doing what we’re doing,” Winitz said.
The World Rowing Championships staff already has had its most significant real test ahead of the competition. Benderson Park played host to the USRowing Youth National Championships in June, and both the World Rowing staff and the facility staff treated it as a test event for the upcoming world championships.
We’re just doing what we’re doing.
Max Winitz, 2017 World Rowing Championships communications director on SANCA leadership change
The World Rowing Championships staff worked to organize volunteers — albeit on a much smaller scale than it will have to in September and October — dealt with media obligations and handed operational responsibilities in tandem with SANCA.
“It was a fabulous learning experience for us in working with the SANCA folks,” Winitz said. “It was just an asset to be involved.”
Earlier this month, the 2017 World Rowing Championships detailed some of its plans for the opening ceremony in Sarasota. Some of the local entertainment acts scheduled to participate:
- Circus Sarasota
- Jah Movement Reggae Band
- Sarasota Cuban Ballet School
- Sarasota Pops Orchestra
- Sarasota Ski-A-Rees Water Ski Show Team
- Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe
- Creative Pyrotechnics fireworks show