Varese, the theatre of international rowing
Varese, in the northern Italian region of Lombardy has long been associated with rowing because of its excellent facilities. Varese is one of the most popular rowing courses in the world due to its central location in Europe and its consistently fair racing conditions.
This coming weekend it would have been hosting World Rowing Cup II for 2020.
The city has an outstanding sports history, with one of the most successful European basketball teams and being the host of the UCI 2009 Road Cycling World Championships.
The first international event that Varese hosted as “rowing city” was the Coupe da la Jeunesse 2007, organised by Canottieri Varese (Varese Rowing Club). This raised interest of the rowing world in Lake Varese. The main feature of Lake Varese is its size, which allows athletes to row for almost 9 km of rowing without having to turn. The absence of other boats on the water and very weak winds offer a much-appreciated flat-water environment.
Thanks to the attractiveness of Lake Varese and a very strong rowing community, the city’s appeal for rowers grew. It became a privileged destination for rowing clubs and national teams from all over the world - not only for the regattas but also for training camps. That is why, after hosting the 2016 World Rowing Cup, a large yard was set up for the construction of the new gym for Canottieri Varese. This structure is over 1000 square metres and available to athletes, members of the club and international rowing guests who decide to train in Varese. It is designed to accommodate a meeting centre, the media centre and the accreditation centre.
In the words of the 2020 host Organising Committee; “That allows us to organise an event with a reduced budget, making it more sustainable from a financial point of view and in line with the new guidance from the IOC, favouring the use of a permanent facility compared to very expensive temporary facility that are dismantled right after the event.”
Working very closely with the Comune di Varese, Provincia di Varese, Italian Rowing Federation and Canottieri Varese, the Organising Committee benefited from a major investment from the city that was essential for bidding for international events.
This week, the rowing community was supposed to meet in Varese for the European Olympic Qualification Regatta and World Rowing Cup II. Then the Covid-19 situation broke. But the Organising Committee is looking forward to hosting international events again. Already planned is the 2021 European Rowing Championships and the World Rowing Junior and Under-23 Championships in the future.
“It will be a real honour to hear again the hymns of the winning nations and maybe among all these young athletes there will be some stars of the future,” says the organising committee.
With Covid-19, the lively city of Varese is almost asleep. There are no pedestrians, cars, cyclists on the streets, bars and restaurants in the streets of the centre are empty. Citizens have responded very conscientiously to the lockdown - fortunately the city, being the provincial capital in Lombardy, has been less affected by the virus. However, Varese is ready to wake up and put behind this time period to hear again the sound of the crews that row on its lake and the chatter of people.
“We hope to put this bad time behind us and we are looking forward to hosting again all our friends from the great world rowing family. We will be hosting events in 2021, 2022 and 2023 and we can always dream about bigger events - hosting a World Championship would be the icing on the cake and a great recognition for all those people and all volunteers who have spent so much to build the dream of Varese as the theatre of international Rowing regatta.”