With a tsunami size wave, the 2017 World Rowing Championships are coming to town. And with significant finishes U.S. athletes achieved in Rowing at the recent Rio Olympics, Sarasota is about to catch the rowing craze right along with the rest of the world. With a little over a year until the event, preparations to bring a stellar and profitable event to Sarasota have begun, including attracting key players from the local business community, making sure the city shines on opening day. One of those tasked with making sure the event goes off without a hitch has been a familiar face on television. He’s Max Winitz, the Media and Public Relations Manager for the 2017 World Rowing Championships and he is incredibly excited about his newest opportunity.
Many people have known Max Winitz as the news anchor and reporter for ABC 7, and have also enjoyed his thorough and friendly coverage of news events on the Suncoast, including many right at Nathan Benderson Park, the site of the World Rowing Championships. Little did he know, that as he covered the development of Nathan Benderson Park into the FISA sanctioned facility it is today, he was likely standing near the spot that would become his new office. As his contract with ABC 7 was up for renewal, an ad for the position he currently holds caught his eye for many reasons, including that it was rowing related. His father had spent the majority of his life rowing and it has always been his wish that Max would follow in his footsteps as a rower. Although he never caught onto his father’s rowing passion as a boy, this time around it seemed to be a serendipitous move and he decided to venture into the rowing arena with a new career path.
As the Media and Public Relations Manager, Max’s current day-to-day duties include coordinating press releases and working with the various media outlets that will be involved, and planning special events for the public leading up to the week of September 23-October1, 2017, when the championships will be held. A recent Rio Watch Party, hosted by Visit Sarasota along with the 2017 World Rowing Championships, was held at the Shamrock Pub and drew a large crowd of local rowing fans, eager to cheer on the U.S. scullers, and also drew in some fans new to the sport. Sarasotians are used to cheering on both Sarasota Crew, Florida State Champions for the past six years, and the Sarasota Scullers, who were Florida State Champions in 2010 and are also the oldest organized youth rowing club in Sarasota. In September, a large kick-off event will take place at Nathan Benderson Park, where the public and media are invited to a celebration that includes the unveiling of a timeclock counting down to the days to the championships and a sculpture commissioned by world-renowned artist, Malcolm Robertson. A long list of other community-involved events including Row for the Cure, and opportunities for the public to paddle and kayak around many of the area’s beautiful waterways will also be occurring. A ticket launch begins soon and event goers will have the opportunity to purchase a variety of passes, including everything from one-day tickets to full-week passes and luxury suites that will also be available.
The local economic impact from the World Rowing Championships is expected to exceed $25 million and the events will bring in tens of thousands of visitors, discovering the distinct attributes of the Sarasota/Bradenton area. The ancillary effects on hotels, restaurants, shops, and the like, will be phenomenal for local business owners. The event is considered to be a “two-county initiative,” according to Max, encompassing Sarasota and Manatee counties and will be co-chaired by a representative from each county. Ed Chiles, owner and CEO of the Chiles Restaurant Group which operates the Sandbar, Beach House, and Mar Vista restaurants, along with Ed Hershberger, founder of PGT Industries, Inc. in Venice were both chosen for the esteemed positions, which are entirely volunteer-based. An intricate planning process has been in place well in advance of the event, and both men oversee the various teams plotting the details.
So what can locals expect when race week arrives September 23? For starters, with 1,700 of the best rowers in the world competing, including Olympic rowers, riding an adrenaline wave after a great showing in Rio, edge-of-your-seat, nail-biting action is a no-brainer. Spectators will be thrilled by some of the fastest, most-skilled scullers on the planet doing what they do best, moving water at lightning speeds. With expanded grandstands, a 2,000-meter course and infrastructure to handle the throngs of median and spectators expected, Max and his group are confident Nathan Benderson Park, Sarasota, and Bradenton will shine when the international spotlight is cast upon our beautiful Suncoast.
What began as a manmade water pit used for mining sand and shell has evolved into a world-class rowing destination. Nathan Benderson Park has grown up before our very eyes and Max Winitz was there to report on a large portion of it. With years of experience in the media as a news broadcaster and reporter, and as a resident of the area familiar with the special qualities of life here, he is uniquely qualified for the position he now holds. Add in his father’s wish that he be involved with rowing and it just makes the experience that much sweeter. Max Winitz is perfectly positioned to deliver the best performance of his life, and this time it’s from behind the camera!
To get more information about the 2017 World Rowing Championships, please visit www.wrch2017.com.
photos from Rowing Website, Facebook & Max Winitz