A report on the 2019 season from Wing Commander J O Thorley, Secretary of UK Armed Forces Rowing

This summer Henley-on-Thames served yet again as a theatre for international rowing for five days, however this year, as we commemorated the 100th anniversary of the King’s Cup and the Royal Henley Peace Regatta in 1919, the focus of the Royal Regatta was squarely on the athletes from the eight military crews drawn from across the world. Competing for the newly presented King’s Cup, they represented their respective Armed Forces on the biggest stage and at the top of the billing. Whilst the United States of America took the spoils, the winner was ultimately rowing as a sport as the event served not only to highlight the quality of military crews but also the depth of talent that resides within our own Armed Forces. The UK Armed Forces Rowing squad may not have won the prime event, but has well and truly formed critical mass after an 8-year hiatus. Over 50 athletes emerged, with a fantastic rowing pedigree from across the Royal Navy, British Army and Royal Air Force, while the event motivated a few that were new to the sport to overcome steep learning curves to represent the best of the UK Armed Forces. Strong performances were given at top UK domestic events, with wins at Reading Amateur Regatta and at the Metropolitan Regatta. Indeed, the UK Armed Forces crew which won at Reading was a mixed male-female crew and beat civilian male-only crews. For the first time, a female UK Armed Forces crew raced at Henley Women’s Regatta, competing in the Championship category, the highest level possible.

As we close this year of UK Armed Forces rowing, I thank you for the support which Team ETHOS and its supporters, in particular SC Group and Avon Protection, has afforded the UK Armed Forces Rowing squad, support which enabled high quality coaching and a smart re-brand for our best rowers to represent the UK military. Whilst a decision by the Henley Royal Regatta Stewards on the frequency of the King’s Cup will be made in due course, the pool of athletes that was generated this year is now readying for the 2020 season, with strong potential to compete against the best in the country at future national events and even represent Great Britain.

Thank you for your support of elite rowing in the UK Armed Forces.

(main image courtesy of www.jeanmiphotographies.ch)

Image courtesy of Sgt Ray Vance (Australian Army)


Image courtesy of www.jeanmiphotographies.ch