The King’s Cup: Allies At War

The 2019 Australian Defence Force King’s Cup rowing team was announced at the Australian War Memorial, Canberra, on 13 April. Details are here. The Australians won the King’s Cup in 1919 and are very serious about repeating the feat a century later. © Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence.

19 May 2019

By Tim Koch

Tim Koch on an event combining the twin attractions of fine dining and rowing history.

HTBS Types will by now be well aware that this year’s Henley Royal Regatta is commemorating the 1919 Royal Henley Peace Regatta with an event for military eights, mirroring the one held 100 years ago to mark the end of the First World War. In 1919, military crews from Australia, Canada, France, New Zealand, the UK and the USA raced in a one-off premier eights event, the King’s Cup. This year, their successors will return to compete for a presentation sword and a newly commissioned King’s Cup, this time joined by crews drawn from the armed forces of Germany and the Netherlands, and this time in mixed-sex crews. The eight boats will race in a knock-out format over the final three days of Henley 2019.

The original King’s Cup, now the perennial trophy presented to the winning state men’s eight at the annual Australian Rowing Championships. Picture:

Chris Hartley has been coordinating the international participation and is traveling from Australia to explain the historical significance of the commemoration and of the 2019 King’s Cup campaign, which has been several years in the making and has strong support from all eight nations.

The 2019 King’s Cup project has its own website and has produced the above short trailer.

Chris will be giving a talk a Leander Club in Henley-on-Thames on Tuesday, 21 May, after a two-course set supper (6.30 for 7.00). Priority is given to Leander Club members, but the organisers are happy to welcome others if space permits. To book, contact the club office on 01491 575782 or email The cost is £25. 

The first week of February saw the Royal Hobart Regatta (established in 1838) and the Australian Wooden Boat Festival taking place in Hobart. This year, they had the King’s Cup on display and the festivities included a race for wooden eights.

On 20 March, the Australian Defence Force King’s Cup Rowing Squad conducted a re-enactment of the 1919 King’s Cup and rowing training on Lake Burley Griffin, in Canberra ACT, in anticipation of the upcoming race at Henley.

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