“Rowers are completely exhausted after a race. The team element also makes it special. Everyone has to be in unison. It is as pure a sport as you can have in that regard, ” said Katherine Holt, a rowing fan and journalist. “Rowing is a sport where the pain on the competitors’ faces shows you how hard they have trained and therefore how much success and failure mean to them.”

The rowing world championships will take place in the Bulgarian city of Plovdiv in September with teams from across the globe competing in a multitude of events during the week-long regatta. Rowing has been an Olympic sport since 1900 and world championships take place every year. In years where it clashes with the Olympics, the world championships are scaled down but Plovdiv 2018 will see the very best rowers from across the globe given the next Olympics are not until 2020.

Growing Excitement

Rowing finishes can be extremely tight, making it a much better spectator sport than you might initially think. Oars often clash and boats sometimes hit each other. Occasionally they even capsize but the still water means rowers can easily swim to safety.

A team can be well in the lead, but tiredness, if they go out too fast, or a mix-up in rowing patterns can quickly let opponents back into a race. With up to six boats racing alongside each other, the excitement can grow and grow.

Rowing in the rain is no fun so regattas normally happen in the European summer months and the September staging in Plovdiv means it will be sunny but not unbearably hot.

Pict: Igor Meijer/FISA

Artificial Regatta

Plovdiv’s love for rowing is proved by the fact the city authorities constructed an artificial regatta venue, which dominates the local landscape. The state of the art facility – the biggest in the Balkans -allowed Plovdiv to host 2012 world championships as well as other major rowing tournaments.

“The World Rowing Championships will bring good revenues for Plovdiv. We can’t say exactly how much money it will bring but as an example the previous World Championships brought 20 million euros to Rotterdam,” Ivan Popov, the head of the organizing committee, said in a statement. “I think that we can attract half of this sum if we can provide enough quality and good conditions to our guests. ”

There are six categories of men’s and women’s races in the championships, ranging from boats with 1 rower to boats with 8. Bigger boats even have a non-rowing ‘cox’ in addition to regulate the rowers’ strokes. Races for disabled para-rowers also form part of the competition. Given the para-rowing at the championships, Plovdiv expects a number of disabled visitors and has worked hard to equip the rowing venue and parts of the ancient city for wheelchairs. “Plovdiv is more or less prepared,” Popov added.

Architectural Gem

Plovdiv is Bulgaria’s second largest city behind capital Sofia. Plovdiv is an architectural gem long hidden from visitors, who never thought about the country as a tourist destination.

A hilly landscape, ancient Greek remnants and a history which has also taken in Ottoman and Roman rule make Plovdiv a beguiling place to explore. Roman sites include an amphitheatre, Roman stadium and an aqueduct. Historians argue it is one of the oldest cities in Europe, with evidence of human habitation from over eight thousand years ago.

Its up-and-down terrain has led it to be labelled “The City of the Seven Hills”, with some peaks 250 metres high. Plovdiv’s charms have begun to attract an international audience and in 2019 the city will celebrate its nomination as a European Capital of Culture. It is the first Bulgarian city to gain the honor.

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