The history of the Zambezi River Regatta in Zambia

Sara Drawwater
8 May 2011
Livingstone in Zambia is a town full of history that is often untold. But through the involvement of

Livingstone in Zambia is a town full of history that is often untold. But through the involvement of The River Club in the more recent Zambezi River Regatta’s and their love of the rich history of Livingstone we can enjoy a glimpse of what was then. If you love history then the River Club could be your dream safari accommodation in Livingstone, Zambia. Stories about the historic links between Great Britain and Zambia (then Northern Rhodesia), brave explorers and risk taking businessmen await you at this luxurious lodge.

But for now, back to the 2010 Regatta celebrated the Centenary of the World Professional Sculling Championships held on the Zambezi River. The event in 1910 was hosted by the British South Africa Company to ensure that the development of Central Africa included the sports world as well.

The British South Africa Company put up a purse of £1,000 to the winner. Richard Arnst from New Zealand and Ernest Barry from England, (pictured below) the two top professional rowers of their day, competed in the race which was won by the New Zealander (funnily enough sponsored by the city of Sydney).

In the 2004 Regatta Ernest Barry’s nephew, Dan Barry, rowed an exhibition race on the Zambezi River. Dan rowed for the Cambridge crew and in 2010 he competed in the re-enactment of the 1910 sculling event. Like his great uncle, Dan Barry came second, this time to Dan Arnold from London.

In 2010 Regatta (sponsored by Sun International hotels the Royal Livingstone and Zambezi Sun) had teams from Oxford, Cambridge, Cape Town and Johannesburg Universities competed in rowing events over distances of 500m and 2,000m in traditional eights shells. The rafting event was held in the gorges between rapids 1 and 7 on Tuesday 21 September. There were also a number of local competitors in the canoe, raft and makoro races. Viewing of the racing was managed by the Zambezi boat club and VIPs and sponsors were entertained on board the luxurious African Queen, African Princess and Lady Livingstone launches. Stanbic Bank, Livingstone’s Adventure, Safari Par Excellence and Sun International were the major sponsors of the races whilst other companies such as David Livingstone Safari Lodge, Protea Hotels, Bushtracks Africa, UAC and others made significant contributions the Regatta.

The Zambezi International Regatta in Livingstone has been held previously in 2004, 2005, 2007 and more recently in 2010. The event is normally open to alumni from Oxford and Cambridge Universities who pit their skills against the top Universities from South Africa. In 2007 the event also included Brown University from the USA.

In the past the races attracted Olympic Gold Medallists participation like Luka Grubor, Andrew Lindsay, Ed Coode, Jake Wetzel, Peter Reed, Andrew Triggs-Hodge and Olympic Silver Medallists Colin Smith (born in Zimbabwe) Josh West, Matt Langridge, Kieran West and Acer Nethercott. It is intended that the Zambezi Regatta be held once again in 2012 attracting high profile Olympic medallists once more. Sponsors are being sought to host the event and you can get in touch with The River Club to find out more and get involved.

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