With the worst of red tide hopefully behind us, Sarasotans are gravitating towards the water with open arms. Unless you’re participating in the 2018 World Rowing Masters Regatta, in which case it might actually be with open oars.
The regatta, hosted by the Suncoast Aquatic Nature Center Association (SANCA), will take place Sept. 27-30 at Nathan Benderson Park, Sarasota.
“The social component of this event is probably just as important as the competitive component,” president and CEO of SANCA Stephen Rodriguez says. “These are individuals that are passionate and dedicated to the sport, as well as to health and wellness. They may be past their Olympic prime, but they are here to be around their friends as well.”
The World Rowing Masters Regatta consists of four and a half days of rowing, where individuals are placed in a boat and must then work together to race across a thousand meters of water at Nathan Benderson Park.
According to Rodriguez, the inception of the park goes hand in hand with rowing fervor in Sarasota. The park is a globally recognized state-of-the- art facility for competitive rowing. While this is the first year that the World Rowing Masters Regatta has taken place here, the park is the location of events for the Florida Scholastic Rowing Association, the US Rowing Southeast Regionals and the Florida Intercollegiate Rowing Association. The US Rowing Nationals for 2019, 2020 and 2021 are slated to occur here as well.
It's no surprise that a significant chunk of athletes already registered for the event--2,000 and counting--are international. Participants from 49 different countries will attend the event, the largest numbers coming from Brazil and Canada. The event's website even has handy information on obtaining a visa.
Rodriguez wants attendants to know, whether competitors or spectators, that the event will have a laid-back energy, with cafe-style seating and vendors present throughout the day. There will not be any cash prizes.
“This is an amateur event,” Rodriguez says. “They're participating for the medal and glory of being able to call themselves a world champion.”
It’s just the love of the sport that keeps everyone coming back. With the majority of competitors being 50 years of age or older, Rodriguez describes rowing as “a sport for life.”
“What makes this sport unique is that you are looking at the accomplishments of people,” Rodriguez says. “Those accomplishments are what define us as individuals. It’s really not about a bunch of different people rowing in a boat as fast as they can; they have to work together in synchronicity. It’s a sport that teaches us about teamwork. It’s a great opportunity to show our senior population the importance of a healthy and active lifestyle. What better way to show that then the example of these athletes?”