The business end of the world rowing championships starts today and with several Kiwis in contention for gold medals, organisers are hoping local fans will start showing up in force.

The banks of Lake Karapiro were awash with colour yesterday as supporters, some draped in flags or with their national colours painted on their faces, came to cheer their teams.

Others enjoyed the off-water festivities, revelling in the music, foods on offer and light-hearted banter between fans from the rival nations.

Among them was Alicia Elkland from Duesseldorf, Germany, and her husband, Johan, who were savouring a pre-midday pint of beer in the fine and warm weather.

The pair, who are holidaying in New Zealand for six weeks, were backing New Zealand pair Eric Murray and Hamish Bond against British rowers Pete Reed and Andrew Triggs-Hodge yesterday.

"If Germany can't win I'd like to see New Zealand win probably because we love it here," said Mrs Elkland.

"But really it could be anyone but England," she laughed.

The chief executive of the championships organising committee, Tom Mayo, said he believed up to 10,000 overseas fans had come to Karapiro for the championships.

He said crowds had been good, but he hoped men's lightweight pair Storm Uru and Peter Taylor leading the charge of New Zealanders racing in six of today's seven finals would attract locals to back them.

"We've sold 51,000 tickets so far which is to the end of the weekend but we are wanting to sell 80,000 to get across the line ... so we are depending a lot on big walk-up crowds over the weekend.

"We are under a bit of pressure but we did start the event out of the recession."

Despite showers this morning that should clear by midday, the weather will continue its warm run with light southwesterly breezes today and a temperature of about 18C.

MetService duty forecaster Micky Malivuk said southerly breezes could cool things at Karapiro tomorrow slightly but there was little chance of rain. Sunday would be fine and calm for the final day of racing.

Championships spokeswoman Penny Dain said several options were available to people wanting to attend the weekend's races.

The number of park and ride buses from Cambridge was being doubled.

The Hamilton event shuttle from the Transport Centre on the corner of Bryce and Anglesea Sts in Hamilton was another option for people not wanting to drive.

Cyclists and those preferring to walk could use the new 5km Te Awa cycleway from Cambridge to Karapiro.

"Today is going to be a big day with so many New Zealand teams in the running, so there's no reason for people not to get along," said Ms Dain.

PARK & RIDE: From 7.30am to 8pm. Free for ticketholders. Located at the corner of Lamb and Carlyle Sts in Cambridge and Maungatautari Rd south of the Mighty River Domain venue.

HAMILTON EVENT SHUTTLE: Return bus service direct to Lake Karapiro from Hamilton. Buses leave from the Transport Centre on the corner of Bryce and Anglesea Sts. See

BICYCLE: The five-kilometre Cambridge to Karapiro cycleway uses a three-metre-wide concrete path following Maungatautari Rd and takes 20 minutes. Bike racks are at the venue.

FOOT: Use the same path and allow at least an hour to get there.



CROWD NUMBERS: Saturday: 6380. Sunday: 5421. Monday: 4299. Tuesday: 5671. Wednesday: 5725.