COUNTDOWN TO WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS
In August, the World Rowing Championships return to Britain for the first time in ten years when Scotland’s international-standard course at Strathclyde Country Park, just outside Glasgow, plays host to what will be the biggest-ever Championships event yet held.
Uniquely this year, the World Championships will be a six-day festival of racing, with the full junior programme being augmented by all the senior lightweight and open events not being competed at the Atlanta Olympics. This is the first time that such an ambitious programme is being staged and over 1800 competitors from some 60 nations will be taking part.
The Scottish organising committee has been beavering away at the preparations for months and years now, and, with the count-down fully on, several substantial changes and improvements are beginning to take place at the venue itself.
Those who have been at any of the major events already hosted at Strathclyde Park - the venue lists two British National Championships and numerous Home Internationals on its roll of honour as well as Commonwealth Games, World Masters Meeting, Nations Cup and Coupe de la Jeunesse - will already be familiar with the Park’s layout. A prominent feature is the finish tower that sits well out into the Loch on the end of a causeway.
Now, to ensure that circulation on the water at the World Championships is as safe as possible, a gap has been created in this causeway to allow direct access to the course, meaning that crews going to the start will not have to paddle round the foot of the tower close to the racing lanes. Regatta officials will continue to have access to the finish tower by means of a new bridge which will arch the gap in the causeway.
Among other improvements brought in for the Championships, a new fleet of umpire catamarans has been purchased, while the electronic timing and video start systems have all been up-graded. A new electronic scoreboard has been installed and the race management computer system has been reviewed and improved.
While the athletes will have exclusive and secure use of the modern Watersports Centre at Strathclyde Park, all others attending the Championships will be able to take advantage of a compact and well-structured tented village.
Strathclyde Park sits within yards of the main motorway link between central Scotland and England, with highly convenient public transport facilities. Glasgow city centre is less than twenty minutes away and, as one of Britain’s top tourist attractions - attracting millions of visitors every year - the venue is more than capable of coping with the crowds expected for the 1996 World Championships.
All appropriate facilities will be available at the venue for competitors, officials and spectators alike, including an extensive RowShow Marquee; a variety of refreshment and souvenir outlets; and currency changing facilities. However, the focal point for those attending the regatta will be the exclusive Championships Club, which, as well as guaranteeing finish line grandstand seats for members, includes among its benefits daily racing up-dates and the lowest-priced bar at the venue - not to mention free whisky tastings and other entertainments!
Details of membership of this club, which currently stands at just £35 for the whole Championships period, are available from the organising Committee.
TRANSPORT AND ACCOMMODATION
Fully aware of the importance of these vital support services in delivering a successful event, the Organising Committee has paid particular attention to the provision of high standard transport links and accommodation options for all those taking part in the 1996 World Rowing Championships. Welcome Desks will be set up at the arrival Airports and a comprehensive shuttle bus service will be in operation throughout the period of the Championships. Specific arrangements can also be made for teams and accredited participants, given prior notice.
The main Accommodation Centre will be the Athletes' Village within the Strathclyde University campus, which will house the majority of the teams, giving each competitor his or her own room and providing full recreational and dining facilities within walking distance of Glasgow’s welcoming and historic city centre.
A number of other team accommodation arrangements are in hand to suit the requirements of all, while the organisers are taking full advantage of the excellent supply of all types of accommodation around Glasgow to ensure that officials, media, families, supporters and visitors all have a variety of options to suit their requirements and their purses.
Full accommodation details, including the brand-new Holiday Inn at the regatta course, are available form the event organisers.
This Regatta presents unique timetabling challenges, combining as it does, a full Junior racing programme with an extended range of events for Seniors.
To cater for this, the racing has been split into several blocks, culminating in two separate Finals Days. In devising this programme, the organisers have attempted to provide racing at times that firstly suit the athletes, but also can maximise the numbers of spectators attending, to help build the atmosphere of the event. Racing starts on Tuesday 6th August, with the closing ceremony taking place immediately following the conclusion of racing on the second Finals Day, Sunday 11th August.
In addition, during these Championships, FISA, the world governing body, will hold its Annual Congress. This will take place on Friday 9th August within the historic Barony Hall of Strathclyde University in the city centre of Glasgow and full transport, accommodation and facility arrangements will be made by the Organising Committee for all delegates.
The 1996 World Rowing Championships is, by any measure, a substantial event.
During its six days, it is projected that the Championships turnover will approach £.75m. In addition, some £1m-worth of capital improvements have been carried out in recent months at the Strathclyde Park course in preparation for the hosting of a memorable Championships.
Thankfully, through scrupulous financial management by the Organisers, the event backers and their professional advisers, the vast majority of the funding for the Championships has already been secured by the Organising Committee.
At the time of writing, a revenue shortfall of some £44,000 - approximately 2.5% of the total investment in the Championships - is recognised. With not a single sponsorship or hospitality deal yet taken into account in these figures, nor a single grandstand seat or Championship Club membership included, or, perhaps more importantly, not a single “nip” of whisky yet sold, the Organising Committee is confident that the event is well on the way to at least breaking even.
Given a fair wind (literally!) the Championships could well make a modest profit, in which case the organisers are legally committed to ploughing any proceeds back into Scottish and British rowing.
Under Chairman Peter Morrison, an Olympic standard Umpire and member of FISA’s Council, a large family of volunteer organisers has grown over the passing months, from both sides of the Scotland/England border.
The crucial position of full-time Administrator for the Championships has been filled by John Ridge, whose most recent experience was as Director of Strathclyde Park, in overall charge of all aspects of the running of the outstanding multi-million facility that provides the venue for these Championships.
The vastly experienced John MacDougall heads the division that will deliver the venue and its facilities on time and in shape for a memorable Championships, while, in a recent move, Mike Haggerty, a well-known sports journalist in Scotland, has re-joined the organisation, as Head of Publicity.
The World Rowing Championships (Scotland) 1996 is supported by various organisations, including the Scottish Amateur Rowing Association, the Amateur Rowing Association, the Lanarkshire Development Agency, the Sports Council, the Scottish Sports Council, and Strathclyde Regional Council.
Further information about the World Rowing Championships 1996 is available from:
World Rowing Championships (Scotland) 1996
Strathclyde Country Park
Media enquiries should be directed to:
Mike Haggerty, Head of Publicity
tel (H): 0141 952 7332 (W): 01786 452080
fax (H): 0141 952 7332 (W): 01786 452084
address: 6 Warwick Villas
Clydebank G81 1EN