Princess Elizabeth Challenge Cup

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The Princess Elizabeth Challenge Cup is a rowing event at Henley Royal Regatta open to school 1st VIIIs.


The event was instituted in 1946 for public schools in the United Kingdom. It was opened to entries from overseas in 1964, and that year Washington-Lee High School (United States) became the first overseas crew to win the event.

The inauguration of this race coinciding, as it did, with the first visit to the regatta of Princess Elizabeth (now Queen Elizabeth II), permission was graciously given to name the trophy "The Princess Elizabeth Challenge Cup".

The PE (as it is usually abbreviated) is one of only a few races in the regatta which does not allow composite crews to be entered, and as such each race is a straight competition between one club and another. As the most prestigious race of the schoolboy rowing year, the event attracts strong competition both from the UK and abroad. For British crews, winning the PE can be the final victory needed to win “the triple", a prestigious achievement which comprises winning the Schools' Head of the River Race, The National Schools Regatta and finally the Princess Elizabeth Challenge Cup, all in the same year.

Eton College have won the event 13 times, Ridley College (Canada) and St Paul's School have both won the event 5 times and Abingdon School, Bedford School, Hampton School, Pangbourne College, Shrewsbury School and St. Edward's School have each won the event 4 times. Radley College is the most frequent losing finalist having done so on 6 occasions, Eton College have done so on 5 occasions. Hampton School, St. Edward's School and St Paul's School have been the losing finalists on 4 occasions. The King's School Canterbury shares the record with Oundle School for most losses (4) in finals without having ever won the event. The event was opened to foreign crews in 1964, since when American crews have won the event 14 times, Canadian crews 7 times and Australian crews 3 times.[1]

The current record holder for the event is St Paul’s School, having finished the course in 6 minutes 06 seconds in the final against Eton College in 2018, completing “the triple” in doing so. They beat the previous record for the event by 11 seconds, held by Abingdon School.




2000 onwards[edit]

Record times[edit]

The course record times for the event are:

  • 1.46 to the Barrier (St. Paul's School 2018)
  • 2.58 to Fawley (St. Paul’s School 2018)
  • 6.06 to the Finish (St. Paul's School 2018)