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Pearl of the Danube

Budapest strives to establish itself as a rowing destination

On a warm day in early April, sitting on the Budapest banks of the Danube watching crews putting their boats in, it's hard to see how Hungarian rowing isn't as big as other central and eastern European nations. The first club dates back to 1862, but in the dramas and turmoil of the last century, rowing in the region barely survived Communist rule and now has an energetic but small following of around 600 rowers. The Budapest Cup Regatta, launched in earnest in 2011, aims to rectify that. The Budapest rowing community – including the board of the Hungarian Rowing Association – talks big: of world cups, world championships, and rebuilding an entire rowing community in Hungary.

Water sports are a big deal in Hungary – particularly water polo, swimming and kayak, in which the nation excels – but rowing has a lower profile. This is the first challenge, says Zita Vimi, one of the organizing committee: "We are trying to showcase that rowing is for everyone," she says, and to "make the Hungarian community more aware of rowing. We do believe this is a sport which should be much more popular."

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About Row360

Welcome to Row360, the world’s only global, independent rowing magazine. Row360 brings you features from around the world, profiling the best athletes, coaches, and others from the whole rowing community – Olympic, Paralympic, college, club, ocean, and more.