Thieves have stolen thousands of dollars worth of gear from the Austrian rowing team just days before the start of the World Championships.

Seven bags containing cameras, iPods, phones and team uniforms were nicked from the Mercer Rowing Club in Pukekohe yesterday while the team were training.

World Rowing Championships 2010 chief executive Tom Mayo said the theft was a major inconvenience for the rowers.

"It's disappointing that this has happened. Unfortunately there are these opportunists out there and it's very sad," he said.

"From an organising committee we go to great extents to put on a good show but crime can happen all over the world.

"We will do all we can to get their things back."

Mayo added that the theft would not affect the team's preparation for the championships which starts at Lake Karapiro on Saturday.

He said: "They are a resilient bunch. Nothing was irreplaceable and we would expect them to have travel insurance."

Mercer Rowing Club president Graeme Fausett said the theft was a "devastating blow" for the club. "We were very proud to have the Austrians training with us and it's just terrible for our little club.

"Saturday was the first day they had decent conditions to train and to come back to find their stuff gone was terrible. We just loved having them here. We feel like we have let them down."

Fausett said the Austrians had been great ambassadors for the sport and had been inspiring young local rowers.

"They were young, enthusiastic and they have integrated well.

"They were just young guys, texting their girlfriends all the time, and now they have lost all their kit."

Police were investigating the theft.

The Austrians are one of 50 teams who arrived this week for the championships, the biggest international sporting event hosted in New Zealand since the 1990 Commonwealth Games.

More than 800 athletes, including world champion single sculler Mahe Drysdale, are competing.

A 10,000-seat grandstand has been built to accommodate spectators.

The Mercer club has produced New Zealand star Eric Murray, who will defend his men's coxless pair title with Hamish Bond.