One of the objects of the Melbourne Amateur Regatta Association was to provide Challenge Cups for perpetual competition at âHenley-on-Yarraâ along similar lines to the Henley Royal âHenley-on-Thamesâ Regatta. The Grand, Stewards', and Yarra Challenge Cups were those originally purchased by MARA in 1903, and competed for at the first Henley-on-Yarra in 1904. The Ladiesâ Challenge Cup was on the programme for the second Henley in October of that year. The Elswick Challenge Cup dates back to the first Melbourne Regatta in 1860 and was the trophy for the principal race, the Challenge Fours.
Through the proprietors of The Argus and Australasian, Mr. Henry Woolnough presented the cup to the Melbourne Amateur Regatta Association in 1905. In 1912, the Founders' Challenge Cup for Junior Eights was established to commemorate the names of the men who founded Henley-on-Yarra â Mr. A R Blackwood, Mr. G Fairbairn (later Sir George) and Captain W C Rivett. A pair of silver oars, the original challenge oars trophy for scullers at the first Melbourne regatta in 1860, were presented to the MARA in 1914 by Mr. Charles Tuckett, whose brother, Mr. Arthur Tuckett, of Banks Rowing Club, had won them outright in 1880 following three wins of the event. The sculls now go with the Yarra Challenge Cup under the name Yarra Challenge Cup and Silver Sculls. Over time the list of permanent trophies has been increased by others including the Lord Mayor's Challenge Cup, which is competed for by Maiden Eights, the Executive Challenge Cup for Womenâs Masters Eights, the International Challenge Cup for Menâs Masters Eights, the Old Oarsmenâs Challenge Cup for the menâs masters four and the Brian Doyle Challenge Cup for Under 21 Menâs Eights.
The Custodians of the Challenge Cups have been:
Mr D W Todd (1982 till his death)
Mr R H Richardson (1982-2003)
Mr P J Ainsworth (2003-2009)
The Associationâs archivist and curator of the Challenge Cups is Mrs A B Ainsworth.
The Ballarat Gold Museum kindly stores the trophies. The Melbourne Amateur Regatta Association is indebted to the Ballarat Gold Museum for the maintenance, preparation, storage and exhibition of the Australian Henley Challenge Cups over many decades.
The Association acknowledges the following people who thoroughly catalogued the Challenge Cups:-
Silver smithing descriptions - Mr D W Todd
Provenance - Mr R H Richardson, Mrs R A Richardson
Collation and additional descriptions - Mrs R A Richardson