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 is on the right of this picture.
We started selecting in October last year – the race requires crew members to be full or part time military (including reservists). In 1919 the demographic of the militaries was almost exclusively male, in 2019 all the 8 countries have women in their defence forces who actively contribute to war fighting capabilities. It was considered essential to display the combined crews working together. The female headcount must be representative of the percentage of women in our defence forces but no less than 2 and since roughly 18% of our workforce are women we will have 2 women in the Australian crew.
Kings Cup Unique Factoids
- This is the first time HRR has allowed mixed crews at the regatta.
- It’s also the first time countries compete – because national crews race as a club normally at HRR.
- The first time national flags will be on the gunwales of the boats.
“I got over 40 expressions of interest which I was very pleased with with and they had already done a 2k test against a time target – men under 7 minutes and women under 8:30. We ran training camps and selection in March which whittled the group down to a team of just under 20 including travelling reserve athletes.
Because our people are working in different locations, they were given both on and off water training programmes. Five people applied from Darwin – where there are crocodiles so they don’t do on-water training there! From 3rd June we brought everyone to one place to train as a team.”
After arriving in the UK, the crew will also be rowing (as they did in 1919) at Marlow and Reading Regattas as warm-up events. There are some publicity activities being organised too and they will row the HRR qualifying event even though we don’t have to qualify. The Kings Cup competition starts on Henley Friday. And you’ll be able to spot the Australian athletes from their green and gold blazer with an emblem based on the one worn in 1919.
What about the other countries?
Alison doesn’t know a lot about the other countries and how they chose their teams. Some are forming around military academies and some are brought in from everywhere including all ranks and all services.
We don’t know what we are up against from the other countries. We do know that Germany and Italy still have national service and use that for elite sport athletes. The Kings Cup crews are meant to be amateur and so we insisted we didn’t want to race the Deutschland Achter!