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The US Navy rowing crew made history yesterday (July 7) on the final day of the annual Henley Royal Regatta, as they became the first team to win a King's Cup race at the rowing meet in 100 years. The original King's Cup race took place in 1919 as part of the Royal Peace Regatta, in which the six Allied nations competed following the end of the First World War. The 1919 race was won by the Australian Army No. 1 Crew, with the original King's Cup trophy then finding its way to Australia where it has since been used for an annual interstate rowing tournament.
Challenging for a newly designed alloyed King's Cup 100 years later, the US rowing team defeated Germany in the final by just a third of a length to win the trophy. Other nations which took part in the knock-out format competition included Australia, the UK, Canada, France, the Netherlands and New Zealand. The 2019 King's Cup incorporated materials from each of the eight nations which took part - from the US, original fittings from the frigate USS Constitution, which saw combat against the British in the War of 1812, were included.
As well as marking the first military event at the Henley Royal Regatta in 100 years, this year's race was also the first time that men and women in the military rowed in the same boat at an elite international event. The US crew included Midshipman Second Class Alexandria Vallancey Martinson, Midshipman First Class Margaret Dawson, Midshipman Third Class Griffin Dunne, Midshipman First Class John Lamb, Midshipman First Class Jared Taintor, Midshipman First Class Jacob Klosowski, Midshipman Second Class Manriki Gagnon, Midshipman Second Class Chandler Washburn and Midshipman Third Class Matthew Catanoso.
Manager of the US team, Rob Friedrich, described it as "an incredibly exciting race ... Hats off to the Germans - they put the pressure on early and often but I am so proud of our guys that they stayed patient and finished the race like we knew they could."
Acknowledging the symbolism of the event, Major Christian Luetzkendorf, Manager of the Germany team, said "This was a well deserved victory for the Americans ... 100 years ago we weren't friends but now we meet in this beautiful place, shake hands, drink Pimms and race together - this is really a trophy of friendship."
Sir Steve Redgrave, Chairman of the Henley Royal Regatta, congratulated the US team, explaining that "They have left their mark on Henley and are deserved winners of this historic event."
Chris Hartley, Chairman of the King's Cup Organising Committee, noted that "Over the past three days, we have not only honoured our past but we have sought to highlight the changing nature of military organisations around the world ... it's about celebrating our militaries' 'fittest and finest', mirroring the opportunities for women in the military, making an enduring contribution to strategic alliances and leaving a substantive legacy."
Congratulations to the US team for bringing home the King's Cup! Further information on the Cup can be found by going to www.kingscup.org