Getting the World Championships running
The 2015 World Rowing Championships in Aiguebelette, France , with nearly 1300 competitors and 77 countries, is the biggest ever World Rowing Championships. This included four countries that have never competed at a senior World Rowing Championships.
For France, they've done it all before, 18 years ago when the 1997 World Rowing Championships graced the Lake Aiguebelette waters. Xaiver Dorfman rowed at the 1997 World Rowing Championships and is now part of the organising committee focusing on the athlete experience especially fairness on the water.
Aiguebelette itself is a small village of less than 300 inhabitants, so the local organisers had to get the locals on board as this normally quiet lake would be inundated with athletes, media, volunteers, support staff not to mention the daily influx of spectators.
To bring everyone to the regatta venue the organisers have worked with coordinating buses that bring people on 15 different routes from 40 hotels in the region. This does not include the spectators who are also scattered around the region.
Dorfman says one of the biggest challenges has been working in the natural environment of Lake Aiguebelette and making sure the venue returns to its original state when the regatta has finished. It also means designing the rowing course and the structures on the land to work around the natural features. Seven different layout scenarios were tried before the current one was chosen.
Planning for these World Championships began five years ago and after winning the bid to host the championships, Aiguebelette organisers began to form a group. The group grew to include staff, contractors and 650 volunteers to help the regatta run smoothly.
Pascale Clerec has been involved in the planning of how the venue would operate. Forty temporary buildings had to be constructed with one of the biggest being a two-storied restaurant to feed 1500 people per day. There is a 400m2 media centre as well as a grandstand for spectators and media. There is also the boat park that contains a rack for every boat, rest areas for the athletes as well as warm-up areas with stationary bikes and rowing machines.
Set up for the venue waited until the last minute, meaning it began about a week before the athletes started to arrive. Then at the other end, the venue will be stripped back to its original state within a few days. For Aiguebelette, the 2015 World Rowing Championships will be but a memory.