The Australian Henley is an amateur rowing regatta which is held annually in Melbourne, Australia, under the auspices of Rowing Victoria. Also known as Henley-on-Yarra, it is organized by the Melbourne Amateur Regatta Association. This event is based on the Henley Royal Regatta and features a two-lane knock-out format.
First staged in 1904, the Australian Henley was established to raise sufficient funds to send Australian crews overseas and to bring international crews to Australia.
Bobby Pearce, Merv Wood, Stuart Mackenzie, Kim Crow, Peter Antonie and members of the Oarsome Foursome have all won this prestigious event. International winners include crews from Lithuania, Japan and England, as well as Germany's Thomas Lange and Brenda Lawson from New Zealand.
The regatta has school, club and open events and all amateur rowers are eligible. Entrants compete for Challenge Cups, some of which are among the oldest perpetual trophies for amateur rowing in Australia. Winners of senior events take home a prized 'Henley pot'.
This cup was established for the 2009 Regatta (to be confirmed) following Brian's sudden death. Brian was the stroke of the Australian Men's Eight at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics and was instrumental in getting the Henley regatta back into the rowing calender in 2008. The cup is currently used for the Men's U21 Eights.
The cup was originally the trophy for the Grand Challenge Senior Fours at the Melbourne Regatta, which was founded in 1860. The trophy was won outright in 1862 by the Elswick Rowing Club, winners of the event in 1860, 61 and 62. In 1905 the cup was presented through the proprietors of the Argus and Australasian by Mr. Henry Woolnough who was a member of the winning crew in 1861-2 and was used as the perpetual trophy for Junior Fours until 1986. Then cup was used as the perpetual trophy for the Men's Heavyweight Senior C Fours with Cox. Currently the trophy is used for the Women's B Eight.
The cup features two fours rowing downstream on the Yarra River towards Princes Bridge. In the background the buildings of the City of Melbourne are realistically represented, with a steam train can be seen approaching Flinders St. Station. The trophy was made locally by William Edwards.
On the 15th February 1972 the Annual General Meeting of Subscribers approved the purchase by the Association of the Cup to recognise the efforts of the Executive Members of the Association since its inception. The cup was originally contested by maiden fours, but is now used for the Women's Masters Eight.
On the motion of Mr John Lang, it was decided "to establish a Founders' Cup as a perpetual trophy for the Junior Eights in order to record the names of the men to whose ideas and work the foundation of the Melbourne Amateur Regatta is due - viz -
Mr Arthur Blackwood
Mr George Fairbairn
Capt W C Rivett
The design submitted by Messrs Walker & Hall was approved and the Cup ordered to be made in solid silver.
At the inaugural meeting of the Association held at "Dunraven", Clendon Road, Toorak, the residence of George Fairbairn, on 6 May 1903, it was agreed that "subscriptions be invited for the purpose of securing Challenge Cups; that the rules be those of the Henley-on-Thames Regatta and that the Cups be a facsimile of those rowed for at Henley."
The Grand Challenge Cup is the first of the three original cups established for the Australian Henley regatta in 1903, and, like it's namesake, it was contested in the race for the Men's Senior Eights. Within the front cartouche is an embossed inscription - "GRAND CHALLENGE CUP" and in the rear cartouche is embossed the Melbourne Amateur Regatta emblem. The cup was made in England by Walker and Hall.
The International Challenge Cup was purchased in memory of Toshiji Eda, who coxed the Japanese men's eight at the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne. The cup was made locally by Peter Gertler in 1996, and was contested by senior men's eights. The cup is now used for the men's masters eight race.
On 29 June 1903 the Executive Committee recommended the purchase of the above cup "for School Crews of Eight Oars", which was manufactured locally by William Barnard Ltd. All races to be rowed in clinker racing eights. In 1907 it was altered to School Crews of Four Oars in clinker boats; then due to lack of entries it was changed to Lightweight Four for the 1951 Regatta. From 1986 it has been for Men's Lightweight Senior C Four with Cox, then 1994 Men's Youth four and finally in 1996 the women's elite eight.
The Lord Mayors' Challenge Cup was donated to MARA in 1952 by Cr W J Brens, who was Lord Mayor of Melbourne in 1952-53. The cup features a badge with the insignia of the City of Melbourne, and was originally used for maiden eights. From 1986, the cup was contested by men's intermediate eights, and is now the trophy competed for by Women's U21 eights.
This cup features swan head finials and is surmounted by an oarsman holding an oar, however, the origins of the trophy remain obscure. It was originally contested by lightweight eights, an event which was first contested in 1938, but there are no records of this cup before 1956. The cup is now used by Men's Masters Fours.
The Silver Sculls were originally the trophy for the senior sculls event at the Melbourne Regatta, which was founded in 1860. The trophy was won outright by Mr W H Tuckett of Banks Rowing Club who won the senior sculls event in 1878, 1879 and 1880. In 1914 the Silver Sculls were presented to Australian Henley by Mr Charles Tuckett, (a brother of Mr W.H. Tuckett), and were used as a perpetual trophy, (to join the Yarra Challenge Cup), for the senior sculling event.
In 1994 Mr P T Antonie equalled the record of Mr H J Turner and won the Silver Sculls for the sixth time. Mr Turner viewed this race at Australian Henley as the guest of the committee.
The sculls were made locally by William Edwards.
The Stewards' Challenge Cup is the second of the original three cups established for the regatta. Manufactured in England by Walker and Hall, the design replicates the Stewards' Challenge Cup of the Henley Royal Regatta, and was first contested by the Men's Senior Four. In 1986, the event was redefined as the Men's Heavyweight Senior Four with a Cox, and in 1994 as the Men's Elite Four with Cox.
The Yarra Challenge Cup is the third of the original cups for the regatta. It is an urn-shaped vessel which features base handles in the form of swans with wings displayed facing outwards from the cup. Manufactured in England by Walker and Hall, it was first contested by the Men's Senior Sculls, in 1986 by the Men's Senior A Sculls, and from 1986 as the Men's Elite Sculls. The cup is currently competed for by the Women's Single Sculls.
Melbourne Amateur Rowing Association Committee
President: Sir Rod Carnegie, AC
Chairman: David Yates
Honorary Treasurer: James Wilson
Honorary Secretary: Stuart Alexander
Regatta Secretary: David Pincus
Race Manager: Rowing Victoria
Committee Member: Leeanne Ambrose
Committee Member: Andrew Cassidy
Committee Member: Lea Partridge
Committee Member: Sally McKenzie
Committee Member: John O'Dowd
Patron: Her Excellency the Honorable Linda Dessau AM, Governor of Victoria