It’s been five months since Timon Wernas took over as new director of the LUCERNE REGATTA. We seized the opportunity to sit down with him and ask him a few questions about his first few months.
Timon Wernas, you started as director of LUCERNE REGATTA just under 5 months ago. If you were to describe your start with 3 words, which would you choose?
Exciting, intensive and informative. Every new job should be exciting, but this one was a bit more exciting than expected because I don’t have a predecessor and the position as such did previously not exist. In an organisation that has been around for almost 120 years… Where do you even start? How do I define my tasks? These were (and to some extent still are) very exciting questions.
Intense because the time until the next LUCERNE REGATTA is running (today there are just under 200 days left) and there is still an incredible amount to learn and understand. The organisation of a rowing regatta at the level of the LUCERNE REGATTA is complex in itself, but with the previous fully voluntary organisation, many processes have been very neatly adjusted and optimized over many years to make them as efficient as possible. No time to waste when you are sacrificing your weekends and evenings… In turn, this means that all changes have to be very well thought through. And while I am now making a living with this task, the big bulk of the organization remains volunteers.
It’s also been very informative first five months, because in addition to being director of the LUCERNE REGATTA, I work in a company that organises other large sporting events in Lucerne. There are a lot of potential synergies and, above all, a huge wealth of experience from which I and the whole regatta can benefit.
As you already mentioned, you work for athletics sportconsulting GmbH, which also provides the office for the SwissCityMarathon Lucerne and the “Luzerner Stadtlauf” (Lucerne City Run). How is the collaboration going?
It’s going really well, I’ve been able to integrate very well and have a very helpful team on site here. Reto Schorno (managing director of the marathon), a former board member of the LUCERNE REGATTA, is also part of the team and already knows a lot about the regatta. I don’t work full time for the regatta, and am allowed to spend the rest of my time helping the other ASC events. So this year’s marathon certainly counts as one of my highlights. Here I was able to experience for the first time how things work during such a big event and how the team functions.
Back to the LUCERNE REGATTA, where is the current focus of your work?
In the first few weeks, I have mainly been working on getting to know the existing organisation: Who is responsible for what? Where are the most important interfaces? And, of course, a lot of attention was paid to financing. In the past years, the association has been very careful with the available funds and has created a solid basis which allowed the professionalization in the first place. Now, however, the first step is to secure the professionalisation in the long term and, to do so, raising additional funds. This will allow to further develop the association and with that, the LUCERNE REGATTA as such.
You’re talking about further development? What can we expect from the LUCERNE REGATTA in 2023 and in the future?
First and foremost, we want to continue doing what we’ve done so well so far: having the world’s top rowers at the start in Lucerne and offering exciting rowing sport. Beyond that, however, we can certainly continue to develop as an event and improve the event character of the regatta. In the future, we want the World Cup Weekend to attract more people who are not (yet) die-hard rowing fans. From a sports point of view, the inclusion of para-rowing, for example, is an important milestone in order to be able to hold major international events again in the future. The latter remains our goal. While this is a big challenge, especially for our logistics at the Rotsee, it also offers a lot of opportunities. Rowing is a sport for everyone, and people with disabilities should have the opportunity to compete with each other on the highest level and on the best stage as well. The last rowing world championship titles in Lucerne were awarded in 2001. With the successful European Rowing Championships in 2019, we have shown that we are ready for more international championships. For 2023, it is still a little early for further concrete measures at the moment, but I am confident that some changes will be noticeable on Lake Rotsee. So it is definitely worth coming by.
Thank you for your time!