- The Royal-Thomian regatta makes its mark in the history books as the oldest regatta in the schools’ community, the second oldest regatta in the island, and the longest standing rowing competition in Sri Lanka.
- The two schools pledge to celebrate 50 years of sweet rivalry, camaraderie sportsmanship and mere love for rowing
The Royal – Thomian Regatta marks an important juncture this year as the two schools meet yet again for the 50th time, making it the oldest and longest standing rowing competition here in Sri Lanka. Past and present oarsmen including rowing enthusiasts will be no doubt looking forward to this year’s Regatta with the two leading schools celebrating semi centennial year or 50 years from the first regatta. The Regatta is the third oldest sporting encounter between Royal College and St Thomas’ College, after the Battle of the Blues Cricket Encounter and Rugby Encounter.
Retrieving information and taking a walk down memory lane, Royal College Colombo was the first school in Sri Lanka to start its own rowing programme in 1953 with the formation of the Royal College Rowing squad. The College inaugurated the Royal College Rowing club in 1955 with a pool of just five members. In 1956 this number increased to 14. In 1958, Royal College had their very first inter house rowing competition. At this point in time, rowing was becoming popular with renown oarsmen such as M S Jebarajah and L.G. Abesekera being selected to represent Colombo at the Bombay – Colombo Rowing meet. The College’s first captain for rowing at Royal was Alavi Mohamed and the very first rowing crew in 1958 consisted of A Perera, Alavi Mohamed, S Samarasighe, A Sellamuttu and N D J Silva.
The Royalists rowed their first regatta at the Beira Lake against an all-European B team of the Colombo Rowing Club in which the Royalists won the coxed fours. Soon after the Royalist went on to race with yet another all European team from Madras Boat Club at which they won. The first ever colours for rowing was then awarded.
S. Thomas’ College was the third school in Sri Lanka to embrace the sport of rowing and commenced their own rowing program during the latter part of 1961. The College’s first Captain was C. N. Sirimanne. The initial pool consisted of 5 oarsman who then went to row the first boat race as it was called then in 1962. The very first Thomian crew consisted of Lakshman Sirimanne, Neville Sirimanne, Nigel Austin, Asoka Jayasekera and Late S J V Richards.
One of the oldest inter-school regattas in Sri Lanka, the inaugural rowing competition between Royal College and S. Thomas’ College commenced in 1962 as the Royal-Thomian Boat Race. At this event, the inaugural challenge Fours Trophy was awarded. While the Royal College team was captained by L A W Sirisena, the Thomian team was propelled by C N Sirimanne. Royal College won the inaugural regatta winning the race by1 boat length and were the first holders of the Boat Race Trophy. S. Thomas’ won their first Boat Race in 1964 beating Royal by 3
lengths. The winning Thomian crew consisted of Errol Anthonize, The late Ravi Perera, Rampe Gunatillka, Neville Sirimanne and Late SJV Richards.
In 1966, the Royal-Thomian Boat Race evolved into a regatta format with a line-up of 6 events namely Coxed Fours, Coxed Pairs (rowed coxless in the present day), and Single Sculls in two senior and junior categories. Currently it comprises of 8 races as follows:-
|Boat Race||A4+||12||Royal Thomian Boat Race Trophy|
|Senior Coxless Pairs||A2-||8||Freddie Ruax Trophy|
|Senior Double Sculls||A2x||8||Inaugural Trophy (Sirisena-Sirimanne Trophy)|
|Senior Single Sculls||A1x||6||Senior Sculls Challenge Trophy|
|Junior Coxed Fours||B4+||8||Eraj Wijesinghe Trophy|
|Junior Coxless Pairs||B2-||4||Chula Samarasinghe Challenge Trophy|
|Junior Double Sculls||B2x||4||Revival Trophy (Phillps- Moheed Trophy)|
|Junior Single Sculls||B1x||2||Ajith Goonawardena Challenge Trophy|
|Junior ‘B’ Coxed Fours||C4+||None||Percy Fernando Trophy|
All races are rowed over a distance of 1000 yards at the Colombo Rowing Club. Regarded as the most prestigious race of the regatta, the boat race or the A fours race as it is called is rowed for the Royal Thomian Boat Race Trophy-Senior Fours. It is also known as the ‘Crossed Oars. The overall winner of the Regatta is awarded the T. Noel Fernando Memorial Trophy.
The year 2019 marks the half centennial year with the two schools vying to clinch the final prize at the milestone event. Out of the 50 regattas rowed, St Thomas’ College with 23 years’ worth of wins, is being led by Dharaka Peiris with Sajjad Ajmal captaining the Royal College oarsman, who have been successful 21 times. 5 of the regattas over the last 50 years have ended with ‘ties’. Between 1973 and 1979 the regatta was not held and the series was revived by Niloo Philips – Captain of Royal and Fahim Moheed – Captain of S Thomas’ College in 1980 and continues to the present except in 2006 when the regatta was not held.
This 2019 historic regatta is scheduled to take place on the 26th of October 2019 from 11:30 am onwards, at the Colombo Rowing Club.
The event has been powered by Munchee, UTS Insearch Sri Lanka, Ceyline Group, John Keells Properties and CIMA Sri Lanka, all of who have generously pledged their support to ensure this historic regatta is a success.