The Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces announced on May 21, 2019, that a Canadian Armed Forces crew will be participating in The King’s Cup at Henley Royal Regatta near London, England, July 3 to 7.
The Canadian crew of eight rowers and one coxswain will be comprised of officer cadets and recent graduates of the Royal Military College of Canada, all with experience as members of the university's competitive rowing program.
“This race honors the past, contributes to the alliances of today, and builds towards the future,” said Lieutenant-General Paul Wynnyk, Vice Chief of the Defence Staff. “The Canadian Armed Forces is honored to again be part of The King's Cup, to have the opportunity to commemorate sacrifices made in the First World War, and, as this will be the first time male and female military athletes crew together in an elite international competition, to demonstrate the progressive and inclusive ethos needed to be an effective military force in today’s world.”
Henley Royal Regatta is an international rowing competition held annually since 1839, except for the years during the First and the Second World Wars. In 1919, following the First World War, the highlight of the event was The King’s Cup, a special rowing competition between military crews from Canada, Australia, France, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States, which consisted primarily of soldiers waiting to return home from the war.
A century later, this year’s organizers are commemorating the centenary of the 1919 race by inviting the original participating countries, as well as teams from Germany and the Netherlands. Rowers will recreate the event by competing in eight-person boats at Henley-on-Thames, located west of London.
This will be the first time male and female military athletes crew together in an elite international competition. All King’s Cup crews will race in identical new boats that are being gifted to the race, and will display the national colours of each participating nation.
“I’m proud that Royal Military College officer cadets were selected to represent Canada in this historic competition. Physical fitness is one of the four pillars of RMC because, as young officers in the Canadian Armed Forces, our graduates must always be ready to overcome all physical challenges anytime, anywhere,” said Brigadier-General Sébastien Bouchard, Commandant, Royal Military College of Canada.
The 2019 Canadian Armed Forces King’s Cup team is comprised of eight rowers, one coxswain, two spares, and two coaches. The rowers are: 2nd Lieutenants Billy Campbell, Drew Spinney, and Liam Cooke; Officer Cadets Frédérique Santerre, Liam Vickers, Ethan Lockie, Brittany Cooper, and Deven Deguara; and Naval Cadets Jack Murphy and Shamus Mountford. The coxswain is Officer Cadet Adam Blok. Team coaches are Paul Overvelde and Stephen Lutz. Lt(N) Carolyn Pumphrey is acting as the team’s military liaison, and has also been training on the water in order to serve as the team’s third spare.
Competitive rowing at Royal Military College dates back to 1990. Since then, the young women and men at the military university have competed against some of the top civilian universities in Canada.
“Although our rowers compete regularly against civilian universities in Canada, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to face other military crews and to represent the Canadian Armed Forces at an elite international event,” said Darren Cates, Director of Athletics, Royal Military College of Canada. “It may be offseason from our university rowing schedule, but our crew is looking forward to facing this world-class challenge. Just like every soldier rowing in the Canadian boat did 100 years ago, our student athletes will wear the maple leaf proudly, and endeavour to upset some of the more highly touted teams.”
Royal Military College takes pride in the proven valour of its graduates. Approximately 150 former cadets died during the First World War. At the time of the Battle of Vimy Ridge in April 1917, a defining moment for Canada, nearly 23 percent of the commanders and staff of the Canadian Corps were graduates of Royal Military College.