"They're actually on the water now," Lake Lanier Olympic Venue manager Morgan House said Wednesday from the venue. "I expect teams will be on the water pretty much all morning and throughout the day leading up to the competition."
The races take place Saturday and Sunday.
John Ferriss, president of the Lake Lanier Rowing Club, said entries are up 10 percent from last year, with 277 teams to compete.
"That's the number of different teams entered in the regatta, so that's approximately 1,700 athletes maybe," he said.
With coaches and staff, the number comes close to 2,000, he said, and friends and family coming to watch will likely bring hundreds more.
House, who has managed the venue since March, said he hopes the race will help further establish a premier reputation in front of the growing collegiate event as the venue looks to revitalize.
"This is a standard for national venues and competitions around the world," he said. "We want to find more of those types of regattas, ones that bring in rowers and paddlers from all over the country, and the world."
Such events, he said, "really pay tribute to the fact that we are, I believe, the best rowing facility in the Southeast."
Meanwhile, local businesses said they are hoping the presence of several hundred athletes would set a good tone for Memorial Day weekend consumption; several area hotels said bookings were noticeably higher because of the event.
Marisol Leal, assistant manager at the Guest House in Gainesville, said it was the hotel's fourth year hosting at least three teams.
"We actually have four teams this year. Two of the four are ones that came for spring training with us as well, and we get about 10 teams that stay with us throughout the year," she said.
The athletes do sometimes seek a calm, collegiate atmosphere and often have meals at Brenau University, but will "definitely look for a great place to hang out" when not focused on the race, Leal said.
Last year, Wild Wing Cafe in Gainesville set aside tables for teams to host large groups, and will plan on accommodating them again this year.
Albert Reeves, owner of the Monkey Barrel on Washington Street, said his restaurant also sees entire teams come in after spring practices.
"Oh, yeah. They eat double meals," he said with a laugh.
Those out-of-town visitors could expect two things if they venture to the square this weekend, Reeves said.
"Beautiful weather; live music."
Information from: The Times, http://www.gainesvilletimes.com
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