Royal St John's Regatta

The Prince of Wales, later Edward VII, visited in 1860 and offered £100 to the winner. Times improved in the late 19th century, and in 1901 a crew from Outer Cove set a record time, 9:13.75, that was not broken until 1981 (the crew has been elected to the CANADA SPORTS HALL OF FAME).

Rowing at Quidi Vidi Lake
The first formal rowing race in North America may have taken place on this lake in 1818, just north of Signal Hill, St John's, Nfld (courtesy Canadian Tourism Commission).

Royal St John's Regatta

 Royal St John's Regatta, believed to be the oldest continuing sporting event in North America, is a series of ROWING races over a 2.45 km course in long, fixed-seat shells carrying 6 oarsmen. The regatta originated in sailing and rowing races in St John's harbour in the early 19th century, but the first recorded race took place 12 August 1816 on Quidi Vidi Lake, which lies just north of the harbour and Signal Hill. The first official, organized regatta was held on 22 September 1818.

The Prince of Wales, later Edward VII, visited in 1860 and offered £100 to the winner. Times improved in the late 19th century, and in 1901 a crew from Outer Cove set a record time, 9:13.75, that was not broken until 1981 (the crew has been elected to the CANADA SPORTS HALL OF FAME). The current record, 8:51.32, was set in 2007.

After a suspension during World War I, the regatta resumed in 1919 and has continued since then. A lively carnival is held during the regatta, often overshadowing the rowing. Regatta Day is a statutory holiday for the city of ST JOHN'S under provincial legislation and the first Wednesday of August is set aside for it. The regatta's organizing committee has the authority to determine if conditions are right for the races. If inclement weather prevents it from being held on the Wednesday, the races are postponed to the following day. In 1993 it received its title as the "Royal St John's Regatta.”