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Kent School
Kent School
Alumni & Development Office
The following article, written by Peter Mallory '63 and featuring Kent Rowers who competed in the Henley Royal Regatta this month, exemplifies the special role of Sports in international cooperation, in this instance marking the 100th anniversary of the peace following WWI.
Kent School Plays Role in King’s Cup Win at Henley by U.S. Naval Academy
On Sunday, July 7, 2019, the rowing team from the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, representing all American servicemen and servicewomen, won the King’s Cup at Henley Royal Regatta in England.  Remarkably, its eight-oared shell included three graduates of Kent School, the culmination of a long and fruitful relationship between Kent and the Naval Academy.
The King's Cup
In this month of July, 2019, after four years of somber Centenary commemorations of devastating World War I battles, it came as welcome relief to celebrate one of the golden memories of 100 years ago.  In 1919, six months after the Armistice, as Europe began its recovery from the War to End All Wars, the Stewards of Henley Royal Regatta chose to postpone the resumption of regular annual competition and instead hold a Peace Regatta to pay tribute to the Allied Forces which were still billeted in Britain awaiting orders to repatriate to their home countries.  An eight-oared race would be held between six crews made up of servicemen from six Allied countries, Australia, Canada, France, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the USA.  
Sir Steve Redgrave, Chairman of the Regatta’s Committee of Management: “The 1919 Royal Henley Peace Regatta was a key milestone in our sport and was staged by the rowing community to help heal wounds and hasten the return to normality of the Allied nations and their troops recovering from the First World War”
King George V of England donated a Cup for the competition. 
Australian historian Andrew Guerin: “The regatta was a triumph, a cathartic celebration of the rowers’ readiness to resume the joy and honour of sport.  The energy and desire to compete was high.  For the regatta, after all, represented a winning of the peace; the unsettling readjustment to civilian life after the atrocities of war; the rehabilitation through sport of the physical wounds of war, and also the role of sport in the recovery from the severe psychological scars of war.”
Australia beating the UK in 1919
The victorious Australian crew returned home with the King’s Cup, and for generations it has been awarded to the fastest Australian State Men’s Eight at the annual Australian Rowing Championships and has become one of the most hallowed and sought-after trophies in Australian sports history. 

For the proposed Centenary celebration, the original six contestants would return, and would be joined by Germany and the Netherlands.  When the plans were announced, the Joint Chiefs of Staff chose the Naval Academy to be the branch of the U.S. Military to organize the American entry. 

To reflect the gender inclusiveness of today’s military around the world today, in an unprecedented step at an elite international regatta, a minimum of two woman rowers were included in each eight.  Navy determined that athletes from all three of its collegiate rowing programs, women, men’s heavyweights and men’s lightweights, would be included. 
Kent grads Griffin Dunne, John Lamb,
Ashlyn Dawson
The participation of three Kent rowers came about because of the close connection between the Kent and Navy Crews.
Rob Friedrich, Navy Coach: “Two of the three Kent rowers in our King’s Cup eight, John Lamb and Ashlyn Dawson, arrived at Kent in 2015 through our Navy Foundation, which advances the admission of highly qualified candidates to the Naval Academy by providing scholarship opportunities to enable aspiring young men and women to attend private preparatory schools for a year.
“Our relationship with Kent has been truly exceptional.  Many of our Foundation candidates who attended Kent have been completely prepared for the academics at Navy but have also taken on leadership roles.  Many have become team captains and true leaders in our Navy and Marine Corps after graduation. It’s been a great match and a huge strength for our Navy Rowing Program.  We look forward to continuing to foster this tight bond between two great institutions.
2019 U.S. Naval Academy King’s Cup Eight: Dawson in 2, Dunne in 3, Lamb in 4
“We recruited John Lamb because of his athleticism and his interest in Navy, even though he did not have any rowing experience prior to his year at Kent. His family lives in Hong Kong, but his sister rowed at Princeton, so we knew he understood what it took to be a Division 1 rower in college.”  

Kent Coach Eric Houston: “As a novice, John posted a 6:09 ergometer score during the winter, and that is still among the best ever in the Kent boathouse.  He ended the season as a member of our New England Champion Second Boat.”

Friedrich: “By the time John came to the Naval Academy, his ergs scores were among the best of the team, and he made the Varsity boat during his plebe/freshmen year, which is a rare occurrence in college rowing .  Since then, he has been a mainstay in our Varsity that has been improving in speed over the past three years.

“Ashlyn Dawson is actually from Annapolis and rowed at the Annapolis Junior Rowing program before going to Kent.  She made the Junior National Team and was an impressive high school athlete.  She was committed to Navy, and we were committed to getting her here.  An extra year at Kent was exactly what she needed to excel here both academically and athletically.”

Houston: “Ashlyn was one of the first girls at Kent to go through all the winter training with the boys.  In fact, she became such good friends with them that she inquired as to whether she might even row in the spring with the boys.  She ended up rowing 7-oar in the New England and National Schools Champion Kent Girls’ First Boat.”

 Friedrich: “Similar to John, Ashlyn has been a major player in the Varsity Boat here since she was a plebe.  She has raised the bar for the entire team in her hard work and determination for our women’s squad.”

Houston: “Griffin Dunne had rowed for New Trier High School in the Chicago area.  He couldn’t have been a nicer guy, but his erg score had been marginal, he was not admitted to Annapolis in 2017, and he did not make the Navy Foundation program.”

Friedrich: “Griffin took it upon himself to take a postgraduate year at Kent and reapply to the Naval Academy.”

Houston: “Griffin improved his rowing and his academics and ended his year at Kent rowing in the undefeated 2018 New England Champion First Boat.”

Friedrich: “We always knew Griffin would be a great college rower and were excited about his progress at Kent and happy to get him to Navy, albeit a year late.  Immediately, Griffin made an impact on our team for his rowing prowess, but also for his great work ethic and attitude. 

Griffin was another one of those plebes that made the Navy 1V in his plebe year, even with the rigor of plebe year, Griffin was very focused to be strong in the classroom and with the extra workload at the boathouse that our team was focused on implementing.  It paid off, and he earned his way onto our Henley trip and into the King’s Cup line-up to represent the US Armed Forces.”
Henley 2019: After a joint practice, Kent Crew on the left, Navy Crew on the right
In the week prior to Henley, the Kent and Navy Crews got together for some practice races
(“brushes” in Britspeak). The experience was meaningful on both sides.
For the Centenary of the 1919 Royal Henley Peace Regatta, the eight military crews would
compete in three rounds of Henley-style knockout racing.
A new trophy was needed, the original King’s Cup having become a precious heirloom of Australian sports. The new King’s Cup was made with pieces of historic metal from each of the countries taking part, including from the original King’s Cup
There was a lot of camaraderie and pride as the eight crews showed up for photos in their
dress uniforms, and there was obvious joy on the faces of many of the participants who had never in their lifetimes expected to be a part of an elite international regatta
But immediately there were two favorites. All citizens of Germany enter obligatory national
service, so the Bundeswehr had the pick of many mature and experienced internationals and
Olympians. Their final boating even included an Olympic Gold Medalist
By contrast, the Naval Academy rowers were all college-age with minimal international
credentials, but they had the advantage of all rowing out of the same boathouse, and all had just
participated in the NCAA and IRA National Championships in Navy 1V Crews
No one was surprised when the early rounds reduced the field to these two, Germany and the
USA in the final on the last day
The participants and the crowd watching in the stands and around the world will still be talking about this race to their grandchildren, truly a race worth waiting 100 years for.
As the two boats waited patiently at the start floats, Dawson in 2 gave Dunne in 3 a pat on the
Waiting for the start of the final
Both crews started high with the Americans very briefly nudging ahead, but as the boats cleared Temple Island the Germans drove to a lead of perhaps two seats as both crews remained near 40.  With the Germans finally settling to 38 and the Americans to 36, this nail-biting margin held steady all the way to the half-way point and beyond.  As the tension in the stands built and built, the announcer kept periodically repeating in a very neutral tone that “Germany leads the United States of America . . . by a canvas”. 
Over and over.  The crowd held its breath.
Finally at the three-quarter mile, the margin began to shrink . . . slowly, inch by inch.  The drone above showed the Americans poke their bowball ahead just as they crossed the mile mark.  Five-sixteenths of a mile to go on the eccentric Henley course.
The Germans immediately took a strong move and held the Americans for fifteen long, agonizing strokes, but when their move was over, so was the race.  The U.S. lead of a foot or two expanded to half a length in the following twenty strokes, and then both boats were engulfed by the roar from the Regatta Enclosures.
The final margin was three-quarters of a length.
After they crossed the line, Lamb in 4 collapsed back, and Dunne in 3 embraced him.
The King’s Cup was theirs for the next 100 years.  Cheers of sincere respect were exchanged between the boats.  Navy celebrated.  America celebrated.  The world celebrated.
Back at the boat tents, the Kent grads from the winning Navy boat sought out and shared the glow of the moment with Eric Houston, their former Kent Coach. 
Meanwhile, Ashlyn Dawson’s younger sister, Maura, who represented Kent at the 2019 Henley Women’s Regatta, was already beginning her Plebe Summer at the United States Naval Academy. 
The tradition continues.  
Watch Video of Race Here
Peter Mallory '63 is currently researching and writing the history of Kent Crew in preparation  for the Centennial of the program, in 2022.
Peter can be reached at:
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