Rupert Guinness at Champion Lakes Regatta Centre
For intensity, they are as close to an Olympic or Paralympic Games or World Rowing Championships race that a rower can experience in Australia.
They are the annual King’s and Queen’s Cup events for interstate dominance in Men’s and Women’s Coxed Eights competition.
“I think so,” said Rowing Australia Performance Director Paul Thompson MBE, one of international rowing’s great coaches. “It’s a one-off race, but also because it really means something.”
Thompson’s view is shared within an Australian rowing community that on Sunday will turn its attention to the Interstate Championships at the Champion Lakes Regatta Centre near Perth. That include the two marquee events; the King’s and Queen’s Cup.
The interstate regatta brings to an end the Australian Rowing Championships that also included races for clubs and schools. And in the Interstate Championships on Sunday, the King’s Cup for men and Queen’s Cup for women are the blue riband events.
It is a day that smacks of state-versus-state rivalry, where every crew races for bragging rights, and where on every shoulder the weight of history dating back to more than a Century sits heavily. It is a day where all is on the line in one 2000m race.
There are no heats, no second chance repechages, no semi-finals or build-ups to the title race; just one opportunity to hone every ounce of mental and physical energy into one and hope it converts to glory.
Thompson, a three-times King’s Cup rower, loves the King’s and Queen’s Cup events for all the passion it evokes. He experienced it winning the King’s Cup with Victoria in 1985, and racing for South Australia (1987) and NSW (1988).
The history, Thompson says, adds to the layer of expectation, hope and eventually pressure that every crew experience.
While the Men’s Coxed Eights race has been held since 1878, the King’s Cup was first raced for in 1921 when the first interstate women’s race was held, but for Fours. In 1999, the women’s race became an eight-oared event and the Queen’s Cup – the Queen Elizabeth II Trophy – was also introduced.
“State parochialism is in the Australian DNA,” Thompson said. “It’s a bit like the State of Origin … mate against mate, state against state. That brings out real passion in the event.
King’s Cup: 2022 NSW 2021 Victoria 2020 Did Not Race 2019 NSW
Queen’s Cup: 2022 Victoria 2021 Victoria 2020 Did Not Race 2019 NSW
How to Watch the Race
If you’re lucky enough to be here in Perth, head on down to the Champion Lakes Regatta Centre and grab yourself a full day pass for just $53.
But fear not, if you can’t make it in person, you can still be a part of the action by joining us via our livestream. Follow the link here: https://livestream.com/accounts/7329366/events/10796923 and catch all the excitement, drama, and glory of #ARC23 from the comfort of your own home.
“The interstate racing, the history of the King’s Cup, the developing histories of all the other boats and famous [rowers who] have done it. They are all standing on the shoulders of giants and the passion that comes with it.
“If you want to win something, make sure you win that one. “
There is no downplaying of the preparation behind the state crews this year. It means as much to them as any in the past.
Jack Hargreaves OAM, a member of the NSW King’s Cup Eight that won the race last year at Lake Nagambie in Victoria, said their defence of the Cup has been a year in the making.
“We have been thinking about this race since last year,” said Hargreaves, who won Gold and Bronze in Open Men’s Coxless Four and Single Scull respectively at the national regatta.
“This is a big race. These other races are good. They’re fun, and it’s good to try and perform well in them. But all the results kind of disappear if you get the last one right.”
Jackson Kench, a crewmate with Hargreaves in the Open’s Men’s Coxless Four, will row in the NSW Eight. He said the interstate regatta is a prime chance for rowers “to represent their [state] colours and what it means to be in state teams”.
The significance of the Interstate Championships is just as strong among all the state crews, Tara Rigney assured.
For Rigney, who won Gold representing Sydney University in the Open Women’s Single Scull and Double Scull events at the national titles this week, it offers a positive shift in focus.
“I love it. It brings out such great camaraderie between all the States and a lot of banter,” said Rigney.