Alison Creagh is the Australian Defence Force Kings Cup Team Manager and she is leading the squad to compete at Henley Royal Regatta later in July. She kindly agreed to speak to SSRS.
Rowing in the Aussie Military
Within the Australian armed forces there are actually two separate rowing clubs who have combined to make up the squad heading to the UK. They come from Royal Military College Duntroon RC and ADFA Rowing Club. Australian Defence Force Academy combines the Navy, Army and Air Force officer training. The crew is now centralised and training together out of their shed on Lake Burley-Griffin in Canberra.
Alison’s personal interest and background in rowing is relatively recent, in 2009 she started rowing out of Canberra RC and there were a few masters military members in the club at that time. Together they thought it would be good to start an ADF Rowing Association – Lt Commander LCDR Kym Fischer agreed to establish this also based out of the ADFA boat shed. ADF membership is for anyone in the military anywhere in Australia. The military has always encouraged sport as beneficial in building resilience and teamwork as well as rehabilitation. The rowing association recently supported the Invictus Games indoor rowing team and it races annually for the Disher Cup for military eights
“We encourage them to train with civilian clubs locally and periodically we come together to compete at the Australian Masters Rowing Championships. One of the aspirations that Kym and I had was the centenary of the 1919 Henley Royal Peace Regatta.”
Creating a new rowing trophy
When Rowing Australia first started looking at how they might recognise the centenary of the Kings Cup, they canvassed ideas and Alison put forward the suggestion of having an ADF crew compete at Henley. This was encouraged by Chris Hartley who is both a member of Leander Club and an Australian – he became the project officer appointed by the Henley Stewards to set up the Kings Cup in a special event as part of the HRR in 2019.
As this will be the first time in a century that the Kings Cup will be re-raced, Rowing Australia will be bringing the original cup to Henley to show it off (and taking it home again afterwards).
A new Kings Cup Trophy has been commissioned by the Stewards and it will remain under the control of HRR. The 8 countries coming together to row for this decided to make it personalised – each country was asked to make a metal contribution to the pouring of the cup. In this way the cup will have significance for each country.
“All prizes will contain hugely significant contributions from each of the competing nations contributions including from two Royal Households, America’s first President, Canada’s first Parliament and Australia’s War Memorial.”
Australia has contributed brass door handles from the original Australian War Memorial Building and a plaque for the Roll of Honour and slivers of the original Kings Cup and the Disher Cup. Alison says it’s
“a little bit of our military heart and soul, have all been gifted to this new cup.”
Tomorrow we’ll review how the crew was selected.
Read our first article about the 1919 Peace Regatta re-enactment with ADF Rowing.