There's more to Belgium than high-class chocolates. At least, rower Tim Maeyens would like you to think that's the case.
Belgian Maeyens, who takes on Mahe Drysdale in the Billy Webb Challenge on the Whanganui on Sunday week, has been training at Karapiro for the past month and, as much as he loves New Zealand, he's feeling a touch homesick.
"New Zealand's very beautiful but it's empty of people. Back home there are 10 million people living in the size of half the North Island."
But Maeyens, 28, knows he has bigger problems to deal with than homesickness.
Just how does he plans to beat the world champion Drysdale over 5000 metres?
"Go very fast from the start. That's what Olaf [Tufte] did last year and that's what I'll have to do. Somehow get a good lead and hold on to it."
Maeyens says he and Drysdale are rivals on the water "but off it we have a laugh and a chat". He began rowing at age 10 after giving up on soccer.
"My parents insisted I play a sport, so I went for some rowing lessons and liked it."
He feels rowing is a growing sport in his homeland, especially now there is a better coaching system in place. He knows little about the Whanganui but will have plenty of time to check it over when he arrives in the city on Wednesday.
He watched last year's race on the internet and was suitably impressed.
Maeyens, who was fourth at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and fourth again at the worlds in Poland this year, must look at the imposing physical presence of Drysdale and wonder "what if".
"I'm a little man. I only weigh 85kg, so I don't have the firepower of someone like Mahe," says Maeyens.
All the more crucial he makes a flier on Sunday week.