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GLRF hosts booth at 2017 World Champs

02 October 2017 | glrfcentral
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The Gay + Lesbian Rowing Federation hosted a booth at the 2017 World Rowing Championships, 23 September – 01 October 2017. This was the first time GLRF has hosted a booth at a world championship elite event. Examples of elite events would be Junior, Under23, and Senior championships, as well as the Olympics. In non-Olympic years, the World Championships features 21 boat classes. The event spans nine days, with the first day officially counted as the Opening Ceremony, and the competition then follows for the next eight days. To be present for 9 days would have been too costly, so GLRF hosted a vendor booth on the final Friday, Saturday, and Sunday of competition, 29 Sep – 01 Oct 2017.


Sixty nine countries (yes, we know …) brought teams to compete at the event. Although this was the first GLRF experience at a World Championship event, it appeared to go well beyond a high-profile regatta - more like a festival or regional fair. The number of food and non-food vendors, beyond rowing, was amazing. The vendors would change every day, and many folks had nothing to do with rowing. This is understandable in that Sarasota County wanted to involve as many local businesses and residents as they showcased the new rowing venue to world.


Built specifically as a world championship rowing venue, the Nathan Benderson Park rowing facility is the first new rowing venue in North America since the Long Beach Marine stadium was built for the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics. The venue was built specifically to World Rowing specifications, with 8 competition lanes, and separate warm up and cool down areas, separated by an embankment.


On the first day, the GLRF booth was located in what we described as the Family Fun area. Although there were people and rowers walking by, we really didn’t have the visibility we wanted. The booth was behind the grandstands and all we could do was listen to the screams and cheers. With the encouragement and initiative of the GLRF booth neighbor, Strokeside Designs, we both moved our booth locations to empty booth locations directly in view of the rowing course, and viewing tents. Located exactly at the 1750m. mark, the GLRF booth was perfect to watch the final sprints of some spectacular races. View the booth pics here.


The reception by World Rowing and the regatta committee towards was absolutely professional. We wondered what the reaction might be from the local community and/or the coaches and the athletes. The former were super friendly, and the latter, mostly uninterested. The fact that athletes didn’t mob the GLRF booth isn’t a surprise. Most come to race, and leave. Some coaches studied the booth, and a couple of the coaching staff stopped in for a shirt or two. Even so, having the opportunity to be visible to countless athletes and their coaching and national staff entourage was worthwhile.


The weather in Sarasota was incredibly hot and on some days, unbelievably humid (muggy). A few entries dropped out from the heat. Yes, it rained. The highlight of the event was the opportunity to step out of the booth and talk to the athletes. All of them seemed very accessible and very nonchalant about their elite status.


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