THE Hong Kong Amateur Rowing Association are looking at building training and competition centres in Tai Tam Bay and Tai Po in the hope of making the sport more accessible to the general public. Bob Wilson, president of the HKARA, said they have had preliminary talks with the Government on the Tai Tam site, although much depends on what plans the post-1997 administration has for the area. But Wilson said that rowing's current catchment area for youngsters is limited to the Sha Tin proximity, which is close to the Hong Kong Rowing Centre on the Shing Mun River, near the Sports Institute. Said Wilson: 'There is so much water area in Hong Kong which is suitable for rowing and membership of the association is also increasing. 'Of course, we would like to have centres in as many areas as possible, but we've identified Tai Tam Bay and Tai Po as sites that can be developed. 'We must increase the number of centres in Hong Kong, otherwise the sport will be confined to a relatively small number.' The HKARA are already working with the Hong Kong Tourist Association in the hope of revamping the current course at the Shing Mun River into a world class facility for both rowing, canoeing and dragon boat racing. But in a report submitted to the Sports Development Board seeking renewal of rowing's target sport status, the HKARA identified the need to regionalise the programme to include other areas in Hong Kong. Wilson said there is no proper rowing facility at Tai Tam Bay at the moment, while the Tai Po site, which could also serve as a dragon boat racing venue, has a spectator stand. Wilson said the HKARA would also like to take advantage of water facilities of other associations, like the Scouts Association. But the use of these facilities are somewhat restricted and Wilson would prefer more 'walk-in' centres for the public's general use. The report says that about 3,000 people per year make enquiries to join the HKARA's introductory courses, proving that the sport, which was practically non-existent in the territory 16 years ago, has captured the imagination of the Hong Kong public. Wilson is confident that rowing will retain its target sport status, for which it receives extra funding from the SDB, next April, especially after Hong Kong's success at October's Asian Games in Hiroshima. The territory won one silver and two bronze medals in Hiroshima with all five of their crews reaching the finals of their respective events.