The 1930s heralded the beginning of rowing on the Rotsee. Since this time, the idyllic and environmentally protected waters on the outskirts of Lucerne have regularly hosted national and international rowing regattas.
Between 1959 and 1962, at the behest of the Lucerne Regatta Association and with financial support from the city and canton of Lucerne as well as the Swiss Association for Physical Education (now known as Swiss Olympic), the Rotsee was established as the centre for Swiss rowing. In 1962, the inaugural FISA World Rowing Championships, which proved to be most successful with the public, took place. Since then the Rotsee has become the worldwide Mecca for rowing.
In 1962, the property was transferred to the newly founded ‘Rowing Centre Lucerne-Rotsee’ Foundation, thereby disconnecting it from the Regatta Association.
For the second World Championships in 1974, the rowing centre was enlarged by way of an extension in order to satisfy the requirements of FISA. This was also the first World Championships to feature women’s events. The Rotsee was also the venue for two further World Championships in 1982 and 2001.
When not in use for regattas, the facilities are made available mainly to the three Lucerne-based rowing clubs and the Swiss Rowing Federation for training purposes between May and October. For many years the Rowing Centre was regularly used by students as an ideal location for their Project Weeks.
A distinct lack of space as well as out-dated infrastructure led to difficulties for the regatta course over the years. The fact that the application for the Rowing World Championships in 2011 was not considered made it clear that there was an urgent need for action at the Rotsee. In order to take into account the different interests of rowers, nature and landscape protection, local residents, fishermen and other stakeholders, the ‘Naturarena Rotsee’ Association was founded in 2010. The aim of the association was to modernise the rowing centre’s facilities while paying due regard to conservation regulations. Based on a broad-based feasibility study, work commenced on the upgrade in 2012.
The first phase of the project was the replacement of the Finishing Tower. The project was financed by way of a partnership between the public sector and private grants (also called Public-Private Partnership).
On May 12th 2016, shortly before 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Qualifying Regatta and the annual World Rowing Cup, the centre was officially opened and ready for use once more. The successful conclusion of this almost ten-year long and extremely demanding project is a yet another important milestone in the glorious history of Lucerne-Rotsee rowing.