The International Canoe Sprint program returns to Duisburg, Germany, this year after a one-year absence that was felt dearly by the passionate local fans.

But organisers are confident those same fans, athletes and officials will like what they see when they turn up in May for the second canoe sprint world cup of 2018.

“We like to be recognised as the “living room” for the athletes competing in flatwater canoeing,” Duisburg press officer, Hermann Kewitz, said.

“We have done a lot to strengthen this position. During the last two years the national government, the state of North Rhine Westfalia and the city of Duisburg invested several million Euro for the refurbishment of the course.

“Our guests from all over the world this year can expect a course which is state of the art. And as always, they can expect a well-run organisation and fair conditions for their competitions.

“From the perspective of the spectators, we will showcase high class races, setting up the center stage for the best athletes in the world of canoeing and celebrating a canoe party.”

Kewitz said for the Duisburg fans, absence has definitely made the heart grow stronger. For a city so used to being at the centre of canoe sprint action, 2017 seemed to drag on forever.

“We were the host city of six canoe World Championships, including the para canoe event in 2016, and we have run a lot of World Cups or International Regattas since 1979,” Kewitz said.

“The citizens of Duisburg expect to experience at least one big event on our course each year. You can see how familiar the people in Duisburg are with canoe sport when looking back to last year. Because of the refurbishment of the course we were not part of the World Cup in 2017. We received a lot of questions – “Eh, guys, what’s going on? No World Cup this year?”

“I can say people are looking forward to the event, and they are keen on experiencing all the athletes in the city and when strolling through the downtown area.”

The early signs are good for Duisburg’s return to the circuit. Teams from New Zealand, Poland and Sweden have already registered, and the year is still young.

Accommodation and transport, two of the potential logistical headaches for an organiser, have been sorted. Kewitz said Duisburg is busy, but on track.    

“That’s one of the advantages of being a host for major canoe events for more than 30 years,” he said.

“You know what to do and you can rely on your experts in each field. Let me stress, all of our people working for the Kanu Regatta-Verein Duisburg, the local organiser appointed by the German Canoe Federation, are volunteers and very experienced as well.

“We know that a lot of national federations will make use of our event as a test for this year’s World Championships. We used to welcome around 30 nations, but currently we expect athletes, coaches and officials from more than 50 national federations as our guests in Duisburg.

“The workload concerning the logistics and so on has increased over the year.”

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With the growth in participants has come increased expectation about the product delivered. It is no longer just about making sure the races start on time, the competitors are in the right lanes, and there’s enough to eat and drink.

One of the biggest challenges for organisers, and the International Canoe Federation, is to ensure canoeing’s global audience is treated to a spectacle to remember.

Video and television production needs to be slick, informative and entertaining, showcasing the sport and the host city.

 “I think establishing a decent TV production with the support of the ICF is challenging in a way,” Kewitz said.

“During the last two years we worked on some improvements for the production on site. For example, we have built a track for the camera to give the best impressions of the last 200 meters.

“We certainly hope that it works the way we expect it.”

Including last year’s Paracanoe titles, there have been six World Championships in Germany’s undisputed canoe sprint capital.

It’s earned its reputation by providing a top quality product, revered by athletes, officials and fans. And as Kewitz points out, Duisburg has a nametag to live up to.

“Some years ago ICF President José Perurena described Duisburg as the Wimbledon for his sport,” Kewitz said.

“We want to defend this title. And of course, we are planning to apply for hosting ICF championships in the future. Being on the World Cup calendar supports these goals.

“But there is more than this. Duisburg loves canoe and the citizens are proud of Duisburg as an important location for the ICF.

“Actually we want to serve for these qualities. Having this reputation supports the efforts to advertise Duisburg as a lively and lovely city.”

The second ICF Canoe Sprint World Cup will be held in Duisburg from May 25-27.


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