20 December 2021
By Göran R Buckhorn
Exciting news comes from the Henley Royal Regatta Headquarters in Henley-on-Thames. (The following is edited from three press releases from the regatta.)
At a meeting on Tuesday 14 December, the Stewards of Henley Royal Regatta elected three new Stewards. A decision was also taken to rename The Junior Women’s Eights, The Prince Philip Challenge Trophy. For the 2022 regatta, there will be new rules for The Thames Challenge Cup, The Wyfold Challenge Cup and the Britannia Challenge Cup.
Three New Stewards
The three new Stewards, Aquil Abdullah, Jess Eddie and Adam Freeman-Pask, join, as a press release stated, “an illustrious body made up chiefly of successful rowers and scullers. The Stewards have been responsible for helping run the annual Regatta since 1885 and have become a model for other events, including the Olympic Games.”
According to the press release, Sir Steve Redgrave, Chairman of the Committee of Management, said: “On behalf of the Stewards of Henley Royal Regatta, I am pleased to welcome Aquil, Jess and Adam. The Stewards are the heartbeat of the Regatta. It is their responsibility to make sure that Henley remains true to its founding principles whilst always continuing to lead the way.”
Sir Steve continued: “There are always new challenges for each generation – something the past two years has emphasised if there was any doubt – and we have gone from strength to strength by renewing ourselves. Our new Stewards embody all the virtues of the Regatta, they have given much already, and we look forward to much more.”
Aquil Abdullah, 48, won the U.S. rowing national championships in the single sculls in 1996. He was the first African-American to win The Diamond Challenge Sculls, in 2000. The following year, he co-authored the book Perfect Balance together with Chris Ingraham. Abdullah went on to represent the USA at the 2001 and 2002 World Rowing Championships and came 6th in the men’s double sculls at the Athens 2004 Olympics together with Henry Nuzum.
Abdullah is an active member of the National Rowing Foundation Board and is also the chairman of the Pocock Rowing Foundation’s A Most Beautiful Thing Inclusion Fund, which promotes inclusion in rowing.
Since retiring from international rowing after winning silver in the GB women’s eight at the Rio 2016 Games, Jess Eddie, 37, has become a key part of the Henley Royal Regatta television commentary and social media team. She won The Remenham Challenge Cup for eights on her first appearance in 2004, the first of eight appearances and four victories in the eights.
Adam Freeman-Pask, 36, was part of the British lightweight team from 2008 to 2015. He won the Scullers Head, British Senior Trials and three World Cups in different disciplines. He won silver at the 2012 European Championships and bronze at the 2013 World Championships in the lightweight coxless four. Since retiring from active rowing, Freeman-Pask has volunteered to help rowing programmes at home and abroad. He has been a big supporter of Henley Royal Regatta and also volunteers as part of the commentary team.
The Prince Philip Challenge Trophy
To commemorate The Duke of Edinburgh, who passed away on 9 April this year, aged 99, The Junior Women’s Eights, which was instituted last summer, will become The Prince Philip Challenge Trophy. The event for Junior Men’s Eights is called The Princess Elizabeth Challenge Cup and was created in 1946.
“The historical roots of Henley Royal Regatta are entwined with the Royal Family, and we wanted to honour and celebrate the life of Prince Philip, whose ties with the rowing community were appreciated by all,” Sir Steve said.
The inaugural final of the Junior Women’s Eights last summer was won by Headington School.
The new rules for The Thames Challenge Cup, The Wyfold Challenge Cup and the Britannia Challenge Cup can be read here.
Starting next summer, Henley Royal Regatta will be a six-day event. The dates for next year’s regatta are 28 June to 3 July 2022.