Wow. I will let the pictures do the talking, but this racing venue is far and away the most impressive I have ever seen. We made it to the race course this morning to draw a card to see which boat we would be assigned. We drew boat 6, our guides told us it was a lucky number in China.
We rigged the boat as we all marveled at the venue. Our guides would grab us periodically to conduct interviews with Chinese televisions. The questions were funny and it is apparent they are using this race to show China off to the rest of the rowing world, similar to how the country used Beijing 2008 to show off to world.. A common theme of the questions: “Can you tell that Xin Jin City is known as the water city and that we are proud to provide such an impress course?”. Ben had his unisuit top down and had a camera thrown in his face and asked “You appear naked and relaxed, is that because you think you are going to win the regatta?”
The course was lined with jumbo-tron sized screen you’d see in an American baseball stadium. As we rowed, fireworks exploded on the shore and shot up the Chinese yellow and red smoke. Cameras run on wires over the course and the final 1,000 meters of the 2,000 meter course is lined with grandstands and a continuous board that features signs from sponsors. Each sign has Chinese characters and then the English translation. Some are funny: “The key to making food is to maintain high moral standard” for a Chinese food company and “Xin Jin Bank wishes you round success” and “Chengdu chemical company wishes satisfactory success of rowing festival”.
The race organizers expect 7,000 people to be in attendance Sunday and Monday. The opening ceremony takes place tomorrow morning, along with the first of our two races. We will row tomorrow in a heat that includes Amsterdam (fast crew from Temple Plate Henley), Oxford and Otago from New Zealand. The lowest cumulative times for the Sunday and Monday rows will win this first regatta.