This summer St. Catharines, Ontario, will welcome some 60 countries as it plays host to the 23rd FISA (Fédération Internationale des Sociétés d'Aviron) World Rowing Championships.
To commemorate this pre-eminent sporting event, Canada Post will issue a full-colour domestic-rate stamp. Created by internationally recognized designer Paul Haslip, the World Rowing Championships issue will be featured on a pane of 20 and on official First Day Covers.
The design posed a challenge to Haslip and photographer Curtis Lantinga. "We couldn't shoot outside because it was winter," said Haslip, and "because of the lack of control of both subject and lighting." The solution was an indoor training facility for rowers one of only six in Canada. In the resulting design, a single high-contrast image of a rower is repeated in multiple colours and overlapped to convey the strength and motion of a team in unison as well as the games' multi-national character.
As a sport, rowing began as far back as 450 BC and was practiced by the Greeks, Romans, Egyptians and Japanese. Canada's first rowing race, which took place in Halifax harbour in 1811, pitted the Halifax garrison against a crew from a visiting Royal Navy warship.
While England is the recognized birthplace of the equipment and competitions we know today, the biggest revolution in boat design the sliding seat was a Canadian invention. Fitted with wheels, the seat slides on runners and permits oarsmen to make full use of their legs in each stroke.
The history of FISA can be traced back to 1892, when it was founded as the world governing body for the sport of rowing. It sanctioned the first World Championships in Lucerne, Switzerland, in 1962.
The 23rd FISA Championships marks the second time St. Catharines has hosted the event, the first being in 1970. This highlight of the international rowing season will see 1,500 athletes compete in 24 events as qualifying for the 2000 Olympic gets underway. Canada's entry will be selected by Rowing Canada Aviron, the national governing body for the sport. Given its many past rowing triumphs, the Canadian squad is a serious contender that is sure to respond to the pressure of this prestigious competition.