Sarasota vies for 2017 World Rowing Championships

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SARASOTA - They may not have come here by boat, but officials from the International Federation of Rowing Associations, or FISA, spent part of Tuesday on the water, scoping out Sarasota's brand new rowing facility at Benderson Park.

"Everything so far has been pretty much as well as we could expect at this point," said Sarasota County Sports Development Coordinator Patrick Calhoun.

The FISA leaders took a look at last minute construction plans, jotting down notes to take with them back to Europe.

"They see things moving in the right direction, we're designing to their specifications, we're listening to the advice they're giving us and I think we have a very successful chance of winning this," said Paul Blackketter of Benderson Development.

Local leaders and Benderson developers hope to convince the FISA team that the Suncoast is the best spot for the 2017 rowing championships; and it seemed the visitors liked what they saw.

"After coming from European winter, we're really happy to have some warmth and sunshine," said FISA representative Matt Smith, "it's a beautiful location, where we are in Sarasota."

Competitive rowing is still a mostly European sport; however, FISA officials say the U.S. could be an untapped market.

"We see the potential as a destination that will be revealed to a new market, a new target audience," said Smith.

The last and only time the U.S. hosted the World Rowing Championships was back in 1994 in Indianapolis.

It's down to Sarasota and a rowing facility in Bulgaria, which hosted the event in 2012, for the 2017 event. The winner will be announced on September 2nd at this year's championships in Korea.