In a re-enactment of a rowing event at the end of the First World War, military teams from around the world will race on the Thames River in England.
Maple Ridge’s Adam Blok will coxswain the Canadian boat in the 100th anniversary of The King’s Cup.
The Henley Royal Regatta is an international rowing competition held annually since 1839, with the exception of the years during the two world wars.
The Peace Regatta of 1919 marked the resumption of the storied Henly race after the First World War, and military crews from Canada, Australia, France, New Zealand, the United Kingdom the U.S. took part. They were soldiers in England, waiting to come home.
This year, on the 100th anniversary of that Peace Regatta, those nations as well as Germany and the Netherlands have been invited to re-create that event. Military teams will race again at Henley on the Thames, near London.
Blok is attending the Royal Military College of Canada in Kingston, on his way to becoming an army officer. The college was selected to enter and eight-person rowing team to represent the Canada Armed Forces.
“It’s the ultimate competition in the world of rowing,” said Blok. “I know our crew is incredibly honoured.”
Blok’s job is to steer the boat with a rudder, give directions to the crew during the race, and push them harder as they race down a 2.1 km course.
He’s not on an oar, so he is making it easier on the team’s rowers by dropping as much weight as possible. He trains as hard as any rower, running and hitting the gym. He started at a fighting trim 158 pounds, and has dropped to a sleek 137. His goal is 130 for the race.
He said the Canadians are younger than some of the competitors, but they are a close-knit group of classmates and friends, who have been training hard.
“The crew looks really good, and we’re definitely up for the challenge.”
The Maple Ridge secondary grad of 2016 is studying honours political science with a minor in history, about to start his fourth year, and then will continue training as an officer cadet.
He was a rugby player with the Ramblers and the Bruins club team. Rowing is new, but he loves the sport.
“It’s fantastic. The energy in a race is electric. To coxswain a crew to a win… there’s no better feeling in sports.”
The racing will be held from July 5-7.
“This race honors the past, contributes to the alliances of today, and builds towards the future,” said Lieutenant-General Paul Wynnyk, Vice Chief of the Defence Staff. “The Canadian Armed Forces is honored to again be part of The King’s Cup, to have the opportunity to commemorate sacrifices made in the First World War, and, as this will be the first time male and female military athletes crew together in an elite international competition, to demonstrate the progressive and inclusive ethos needed to be an effective military force in today’s world.”