A LONG-TIME breeding ground of top-class international rowers, Tasmania is also increasingly being used as a training base for them.
Rowing Australia has based several crews in the state but other countries have also started taking advantage of the ideal facilities with the Canadian women's squad enjoying Launceston's hospitality in preparation for next week's world cup being held in Sydney.
The visit sees the country's senior women's coach John Keogh deliver on a promise to bring the squad, including half the crew that landed an Olympic silver medal in the women's eight last year, back to the city of his birth.
``We want to enjoy the journey of being an international athlete so having access to places like this and knowing the city makes it a lot easier,'' said the 43-year-old father of two, who twice finished fourth in lightweight fours at world titles.
Keogh has spent the past eight years guiding British and Canadian crews to international success but still calls Trevallyn home having won two school state championships at Queechy High, an under-23 lightweight men's pair national title with North Esk and represented Tasmania in both youth eight and lightweight four.
He said quality training venues were in short supply and he received extensive assistance from the Tasmanian rowing community for his idea to bring the Canadians here.
``They have to acclimatise somewhere so why not here and they seem to like it. We rowed up the Gorge this morning and they even got to see some kangaroos.''
Keogh, who began coaching at Scotch Oakburn, was optimistic about beginning another Olympic cycle with an eight which last year secured Canada's first medal in heavyweight women's rowing in 12 years by finishing 1.47 seconds behind the US.
``To come away with a medal was really important. We went to win gold but the Americans were too strong and we can be proud of our performance.
``Sydney will be a bit of an unknown for us. We're using it as an opportunity to race and test ourselves.
``A lot of countries have new combinations so we don't know who we're racing against.''
From that London crew, Krista Guloien, Ashley Brzozowicz, Darcy Marquardt and cox Lesley Thompson-Willie are joined by four newcomers plus two single crews and a lightweight double in Launceston this week.
Marquardt said the rowers were enjoying conditions having left behind a frozen Lake Fanshawe in Ontario.
``It's my first time in Australia and it's warm and beautiful here,'' said Marquardt, who finished fourth at both Beijing and Athens Olympics and has a full set of world championship medals.
``I did not know much about Tasmania before I got here but the people have been really helpful to us.''
Asked what Keogh had told them about his homeland, Marquardt, who will turn 34 in Sydney next week, replied: ``He showed us all the dangerous animals that live here, snakes and spiders and anything poisonous, but also pictures of Launceston and where we would row here.
``The river here is good when the tide is in and having four clubs so close together speaks volumes about the culture of Tasmanian rowing. To see a lot of kids of high school age coming through is fantastic.''