Making a splash!  With the Covid restrictions receding and the world being eager to again ‘come out and play’, it was tremendous to have the opportunity to join the many thousands taking part and supporting the Henley Royal Regatta; a fantastic ‘Ascot on water’!

Blessed with an all too rare glimpse of the sun, Team Ethos created an event to remember in support of sport, and in particular UK Armed Forces Rowing. Some 130 guests enjoyed hospitality on the banks of the river, and the chance to once again engage with friends, colleagues, partners and sport as team after team raced over the line in what is a relentless display of rowing excellence in the exceptional and unique atmosphere created at Henley on Thames.

Fortunate to have a prime location hosted at the Upper Thames Rowing Club, the assembled throng of many sponsors, supporters and guests were able to enjoy the racing in a carnival atmosphere, so missed over the last 18 months. The dry, sunny day certainly helped to lift spirits and really helped make the occasion even though, despite a fantastic effort, the UKAF crew came a close second in their race.

Thanks as always goes to all those that help produce the wherewithal to bring such an event together and raise the funds to support a resurgent UKAF rowing club with its aspiration to develop and grow competitive forces rowing.

After support to adaptive shooting at Bisley, forces motorsport at Goodwood, forces equestrian at Tidworth, rowing at Henley and the support to various sporting challenges, it finally feels like we can see some normality returning. Thank you all for seeing this through and we look forward to a busy September and beyond.

UK Armed Forces Rowing – Henley Royal Regatta 2021

Report from Wing Commander James Thorley, Chairmain UK Armed Forces Rowing Association.

The UK Armed Forces Rowing crew competed in the Wyfold Challenge Cup for coxless fours at Henley Royal Regatta on Wednesday 11 August. While the season had been disrupted due to overseas exercises and a COVID case, the crew‘s speed had increased during training at the UKAF host club of Upper Thames Rowing Club in Henley-on-Thames, under the watchful eye of their coach Will Fletcher (himself a member of the Team GB Rowing Team in Rio 2016). After strong results earlier in the season at the Metropolitan Regatta, and the Marlow International Regatta, both of which were held at the London 2012 Olympic venue at Eton Dorney, the crew were in a good position for the race.

In one of the fastest and closest races of the day in their event, the UKAF boat battled neck and neck against their opponents from Thames Rowing Club for the entire 2112 metres of the world-famous Henley course. However, Thames just pipped the UKAF boat by 3/4 of a boat length at the finish. While not the result that the crew wanted, their performance showed rowing in the Armed Forces in a very positive light for the future.

View the race between UK Armed Forces RC & Thames RC  ↓

The UK Armed Forces Rowing crew: Flt Lt Ed Mace, Lt Sam Hayes (SCOTS), Capt Rob Johnston (RE), and Capt Stephen Jones (RE)

UK Armed Forces Rowing – A Short History

In its broadest sense, the UK Armed Forces Rowing Association (UKAF Rowing) exists to promote and coordinate rowing across the Armed Forces and to bring together the best rowers from across the three service rowing associations/clubs, in order to field the most competitive service crews possible at selected high-profile regattas and championships, both indoors and outdoors.

The aim on the water is to enter competitive crews into Henley Women’s Regatta, Henley Royal Regatta (HRR), and the British Rowing Senior Championships – with the aim of winning! Army Rowing won at HRR in 2005 and 2006, and there have been notable individual successes by service rowers all the way up to Olympic gold, but we have to go back to the 1950s to see the glory days of services’ rowing crews.

While our aims are mainly domestic, if our crews are of the right standard and have committed to the significant training required to succeed, we will also look to promote the UK Armed Forces by entering events overseas. Regattas such as Ghent form part of the lead-in to a successful Henley programme, but the Head of the Charles event in Boston, USA held in late October every year is a favourite of the athletes, and helps to keep the momentum from the summer season and build for the following season.

While Services’ rowing has existed primarily to promote on-the-water rowing, the advent of Indoor Rowing as a recognised sport within the military has seen UKAF Rowing recently adopt Indoor Rowing to promote the very best athletes and enter world class events. In early 2021, despite the Coronavirus lockdown, success was seen at the virtual World Rowing Indoor Championships as the UK Armed Forces team came third in the men’s team event and fourth in the women’s team event.

You can follow UKAF Rowing on Twitter or Instagram