open events

The Grand Challenge Cup

men's eight oars with coxswain

The Grand Challenge Cup dates from 1839, in which year the Stewards resolved that a Silver Cup, value 100 guineas, to be called the "Henley Grand Challenge Cup", be rowed for annually by amateur crews in eight-oared boats.

At this first Regatta, J. D. Bishop, of Leander Club, umpired on horseback. The race, which was between First Trinity, Cambridge, Brasenose College, Oxford, Wadham College, Oxford and Eton College, was won by Trinity.

The base of the Cup was added in 1896 and extended in 1954 and 1986 and records the names of all winning crews since the inception of the Regatta. The Book of Honour was added as an integral part of the trophy in 1954. In 1964, the winning Harvard crew of 1914 presented the Regatta with a new cup, being identical to the now fragile original of 1839; this new cup continues to be used as the trophy.

In 2014 a new base was commissioned as spaces for the names of the winning crews had run out on the old base. A small group of Harvard oarsmen paid for the new base in memory of the famous Harvard Coach, Harry Parker.

The Remenham Challenge Cup

women's eight oars with coxswain

At the 1998 and 1999 Regattas the Stewards held an Invitation Race for Women's Eights. At the Stewards' Meeting in December 1999 it was decided to make this event into an Open Women's Eights event, formally incorporated in the Rules of the Regatta and to be known as The Henley Prize.

At the 2002 Regatta the event became known as The Remenham Challenge Cup when the Stewards accepted the gift of a trophy presented by The Remenham Club. This was in recognition of the support its founding clubs had given women's rowing, and in memory of its past President, Mr. Ian Rogers, MBE.

The Stewards' Challenge Cup

men's four oars

Instituted in 1841, The Stewards' Challenge Cup is second only to The Grand Challenge Cup in seniority and is subject to the same rules of entry. In early days the boats carried coxswains.

Such an encumbrance seemed unnecessary to W. B. Woodgate, who, when competing in the event in the Brasenose four in 1868, instructed the coxswain, F. E. Weatherley, to jump overboard on the word “Go”. Lightened by the ejection of this passenger, the Brasenose four went on to win easily - only to be disqualified. In 1873 The Stewards' Challenge Cup became a coxless race.

The Town Challenge Cup

women's four oars

In 2017, a new Open event was inaugurated for Women's Fours, and a trophy was commissioned by Ottewill Silversmiths. The trophy was presented for the first time in 2018, when the event became known as The Town Challenge Cup; this recalls the name of the trophy for coxed fours which was presented alongside The Grand Challenge Cup for eights at the very first Regatta in 1839 and annually thereafter until 1883, after which it was given in trust to Henley Town & Visitors’ Regatta.

The Queen Mother Challenge Cup

men's quadruple sculls

The Queen Mother Challenge Cup was introduced in 1981, the first time there had been a race in this class of boat at the Regatta. The Qualification Rules are the same as those for The Grand Challenge Cup.

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother graciously consented to this trophy being named after her to mark the occasion of her 80th birthday in 1980, the year in which it was decided to institute this event. 

The Princess Grace Challenge Cup

women's quadruple sculls

At the 2001 Regatta an event was introduced with the same Qualification Rules as those for The Remenham Challenge Cup.

In 2003 the Stewards received approval from the Palace of Monaco for this event to be called The Princess Grace Challenge Cup in memory of Her Serene Highness.  Her brother, Jack Kelly Junior, had won The Diamond Challenge Sculls in 1947 and in 1949.

Princess Grace was the Regatta Prizegiver in 1981 and her son, HSH The Prince Albert of Monaco, presented the prizes in 2004.

The Silver Goblets & Nickalls' Challenge Cup

men's pair oars

The Pair-Oared Race was instituted in 1845 for presentation prizes of Silver Wherries. In 1850 these were discontinued and Silver Goblets were given instead as presentation prizes.

In 1895 Tom Nickalls donated a challenge trophy in the form of a Silver Peg Cup to commemorate the achievements of his sons, Guy and Vivian, who between them won eleven Goblets in the 1890s.

The event became The Silver Goblets & Nickalls' Challenge Cup. 

A century later, Steve Redgrave won the event in 1995 for a record seventh time, to be joined in 2003 by Matthew Pinsent when he recorded his seventh victory.

The Hambleden Pairs Challenge Cup

women's pair oars

At the 2017 Regatta the Stewards introduced a new Open event for Women’s Pairs, intended for crews of the highest international standard. 

In 2018, a trophy was specially made and the event became known as The Hambleden Pairs Challenge Cup; this commemorates the trophy presented for the pairs event at the Royal Henley Peace Regatta in 1919 by Viscount Hambleden, who five years later allowed a portion of his land on the Berkshire bank at the Start to be trimmed to enable the creation of the “Straight Course” on which the Regatta is still raced today.  In addition to the trophy, both members of the winning crew receive presentation miniatures.

The Double Sculls Challenge Cup

men's double sculls

To mark the Centenary Regatta in 1939, presentation goblets were offered for a Double Sculling Race. The Double Sculls Challenge Cup and medals were instituted in 1946, whilst a silver base was added in 1987.

The Stonor Challenge Trophy

women's double sculls

An Invitation Race for Women’s Double Sculls has previously been held at the Regatta in 1981 and 1982.  In 2017, a new Open event was inaugurated for Women’s Double Sculls intended, like the pairs events, for crews of the highest international standard.  

In 2018, a trophy in the form of a silver salver was specially made and the event became known as The Stonor Challenge Trophy.  This commemorates Thomas Stonor (later Lord Camoys), who chaired the meeting in 1839 at which the Regatta was set up and became one of its first Stewards.

The Diamond Challenge Sculls

men's single sculls

The race for The Diamond Sculls "for amateurs, open to all England" was introduced in 1844. At that time, The Diamond Sculls trophy was a presentation prize of a diamond scarf-pin. The Diamond Challenge Sculls was not instituted until 1850.  In that year the diamond scarf-pin prize gave way to a silver-gilt pineapple cup, which was similarly presented to the winner to keep. 

In 1957 a new case was made for the trophy as there was no more room for further silver plaques in the old case, which had held the sculls for 116 years.

The Diamond Challenge Sculls was the first open event to go abroad, J. K. K. Ooms taking the trophy back to Amsterdam as long ago as 1892.  The record number of wins in this event was achieved by Stuart Mackenzie of Australia when he won six consecutive times between 1957 and 1962, to be joined in 2018 by Mahé Drysdale when he recorded his sixth victory.

The Princess Royal Challenge Cup

women's single sculls

In 1993 an event was introduced, and counted as a round of the F.I.S.A. World Cup in the three years 1993 to 1995.  In 1996 the Stewards purchased a silver cup as a challenge trophy and were delighted to obtain the approval of Her Majesty The Queen for this trophy to be called The Princess Royal Challenge Cup and this was presented for the first time in 1997.

In addition, the winner of The Princess Royal Challenge Cup receives a set of miniature crossed sculls as a presentation prize.  The event has been won five times by both Maria Brandin of Sweden and Mirka Knapkova of the Czech Republic.