The first oblas rowing championship took place in the Khanty-Mansi autonomous area of Russia. Oblas is the name of a small unstable boat hollowed out of a single log and used from time immemorial in this area rich with rivers, lakes and forests. The major population of the area consists of Khanty and Mansi - small in numbers nationalities of the Russian North.
13 teams representing various regions of this enormous area took part in the rowing race on unusual boats. The winners became sportsmen from the city of Nizhnevartovsk, one of the "oil capitals" of Siberia. The victory was not a chance one, oblas rowing championships had been staged in the Nizhnevartovsk region for already 24 years. In addition to that local masters are considered to be the best manufacturers of such boats.
Specialists from Nizhnevartovsk received orders to manufacturer 100 oblases for the future championship which would take place in 2003 in the Khanty-Mansy area.
The choice of the city of Helsinki is not incidental as the capital of Finland had hosted US-Soviet negotiations on the limitation of nuclear stockpiles in 1969