The Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces today announced that a Canadian Armed Forces crew will be participating in The King’s Cup at Henley Royal Regatta near London, England, July 3 to 7.
The Canadian crew of eight rowers and one coxswain will be comprised of officer cadets and recent graduates of the Royal Military College of Canada, all with experience as members of the university’s competitive rowing program.
This will be the first time male and female military athletes crew together in an elite international competition.
“This race honours the past contributes to the alliances of today and builds towards the future. The Canadian Armed Forces is honoured to again be part of The King’s Cup, to have the opportunity to commemorate sacrifices made in the First World War, and, as this will be the first time male and female military athletes crew together in an elite international competition, to demonstrate the progressive and inclusive ethos needed to be an effective military force in today’s world,” says Lieutenant-General Paul Wynnyk, Vice Chief of the Defence Staff.
Held on the River Thames by the town of Henley-on-Thames, England the Henley Royal Regatta is an international rowing competition held annually since 1839, except for the years during the First and the Second World Wars.
In 1919, following the First World War, the highlight of the event was The King’s Cup, a special rowing competition between military crews from Canada, Australia, France, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States, which consisted primarily of soldiers waiting to return home from the war.
“Although our rowers compete regularly against civilian universities in Canada, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to face other military crews and to represent the Canadian Armed Forces at an elite international event. It may be offseason from our university rowing schedule, but our crew is looking forward to facing this world-class challenge. Just like every soldier rowing in the Canadian boat did 100 years ago, our student-athletes will wear the maple leaf proudly, and endeavour to upset some of the more highly touted teams,” says Darren Cates, Director of Athletics, Royal Military College of Canada.
A century later, this year’s organizers are commemorating the centenary of the 1919 race by inviting the original participating countries, as well as teams from Germany and the Netherlands.
“I’m proud that Royal Military College officer cadets were selected to represent Canada in this historic competition. Physical fitness is one of the four pillars of RMC because, as young officers in the Canadian Armed Forces, our graduates must always be ready to overcome all physical challenges anytime, anywhere,” says Brigadier-General Sébastien Bouchard, Commandant, Royal Military College of Canada
Rowers will recreate the event by competing in identical eight-person boats that have been gifted to the race and will display the national colours of each participating nation.
Each nation competing in The King’s Cup will make a symbolic contribution, which will be melted down and included in prizes. Canada’s contribution is copper reclaimed from a recently renovated portion of roofing on Parliament Hill in Ottawa.