The Regatta draws crowds of up to 50,000 people annually to the shores of Quidi Vidi Lake. It is widely known as “The Largest Garden Party in the World” because it has been about socializing as much as amateur sport.

green FLAGLast Updated: 4:45am - Jun 18, 2018
Regatta Day St. John's

The Royal St. John’s Regatta is the oldest organized sporting event in North America. It has been a part of Newfoundland history for almost 200 years. The first record of an organized event was in 1816, but rowing matches were common among ships crews in St. John’s Harbour since at least the 1700’s. These days, the Regatta draws crowds of up to 50,000 people annually to the shores of Quidi Vidi Lake. It is widely known as “The Largest Garden Party in the World” because it has been about socializing as much as amateur sport. Concession stands, wheels of fortune, games of chance, and food & drink are just as much part of the Regatta’s history as the races.

The Hall of Fame

The Regatta Hall of Fame was established in 1987. In its first year, two crews and nine individuals were inducted in three categories:

  • Rower/Crew
  • Coxswain/Coach
  • Builder
Learn More

The History of the Royal St. John’s Regatta Project

For more information about the history of the Royal St. John’s Regatta, be sure to visit the Collections Canada website: “The History of the Royal St. John’s Regatta Project”.

Project Website

Origins

Many local historians believe that rowing and sailing competitions between the crews from various ships in the harbour and the local populous pre-date any of the records we have been able to verify. St. John’s, with its magnificently sheltered harbour, had become a growing centre of activity and early settlement in the early 1700’s. The fishing and trading season generally lasted from May to September. This gave the transient and local population only a few months to form summer friendships and raise a challenge to each other’s sailing and rowing skills. The boat racing, which later became our Regatta, came into existence as a natural form of friendly competition among a seafaring people.

The rivalry amongst the crews of the various ships in the harbour sparked both sailing and rowing challenges. Brief early records give reference to the use of “gigs”, “jolly-boats”, and “whale” boats which were used in early competition. A “gig” is defined as: a light, narrow clinker-built ships boat, adapted either for rowing or sailing. Little else is known of a “gig”s dimensions or use. Most of the boats used during this early period were owned by the local merchants.

The very earliest verifiable mention of a rowing competition dates back to 12 August 1816. In its early days the boat races were held over a space of three days, and old-fashioned gigs and yawls and long boats were manned by brawny sailors and fishermen who won monetary rewards and fleeting fame and the plaudits of a merry crowd of holiday makers.

In the early years challenges were for either sailing or racing. Crews and boats had to be classified or matched so that all challenges could be met. Sailing matches were initially held in the Harbour with rowing matches reserved for Quidi Vidi. Eventually all races moved to Quidi Vidi, perhaps to avoid interfering with a busy port’s activity and possibly to accommodate the growing crowds of spectators so eager to watch the festivities.

1816

Long before Newfoundland was granted a Representative Government there was Regatta in St. John’s. The Royal Gazette in its issue of 6 August 1816 records the arrival in the port of St. John’s of:

the sloop, George
the schooner, Elizabeth
the brigantine, Fame
the brig, Azores
the brig, Unanimity
the brig, Lightning

In the same issue of the Royal Gazette there is a report on a rowing match (which) will take place on Monday next between two boats upon which considerable bets are depending. They are to start at half past one o’clock from alongside the prision ship. The prision ship was moored in the harbour and there are references to boat races being held on the harbour in these early years.

1818

Throughout the history of Newfoundland the ardent loyalty of Newfoundlanders to the King/Queen and Country remains a proud facet to their character. The evolution of the Regatta also shares very strong links to the major events which surround the Monarchy. The races of 1818 were held on September 22 in order to coincide with the 47th anniversary of King George III’s official coronation on September 22,1761. It is from this date that the Regatta Committee takes its anniversary.

OFFICIAL RECORD TIMES
OFFICIAL RECORD TIMES

Official Record Times

  • Female
  • Male
  • Championship
  • Course Records

Female

Race Category Time Year Crew
Female Amateur 4:56.70 2003 OZ FM
Female Mercantile 5:15.82 1997 North Atlantic Petroleum
Female Intermediate 5:11.15 2004 Compusult
Female Juvenile 5:25.66 2002 Noble Drilling
Female Midget 5:48.39 2001 Noble Drilling
Female Commercial 5:33.19 2001 Thrifty Car Rental
Female District 5:29.86 2001 CFS St. John’s-Sports Shop
Female General Workers 5:30.56 2004 RJG Construction
Female All Comers 5:45.91 2001 Appleton Rum
Female Masters 5:12.53 2012 OZ FM
Female Memorial 5:38.78 2012 Hanlon Realty
Female Club 5:44.23 2005 Bella Vista
Female Service 5:55.68 2011 Labrador Motors
Female Labour 5:46.39 2012 Statoil
Female Squirt 2:37.60 2016 FW Connolly

Male

Race Category Time Year Crew
Male Amateur 8:54.06 2007 Crosbie Industrial Services
Male Labour 9:22.99 1987 H.M. Penitentiary
Male Intermediate 9:23.27 2001 Academy Canada
Male Masters 9:40.11 2012 3M Masters
Male Midget 5:00.79 1995 East Coast Marine
Male Juvenile 9:43.07 1989 Outer Cove-East Coast Marine
Male All Comers 9:24.80 1995 Concrete Products
Male Service 9:03.64 1991 Smith Stockley-Outer Cove
Male Squirt 2:26.90 2016 GreenSleeves/Men’s Den
Male Commercial 9:17.79 1991 RNC Sportscraft
Male General Workers 9:15.72 1981 Smith Stockley

Championship

Female 4:57.78 2005 Compusult A/Canada Games
Male 8:51.32 2007 Crosbie Industrial Services

Course Records

Full Course (2.450 km.) 8:51.32 2007 Crosbie Industrial Services
Half Course (1.225 km.) 4:56.70 2003 OZ FM Female Crew
CHAMPIONSHIP TIMES
CHAMPIONSHIP TIMES

Championship Times

  • Male Championship Times
  • Female Championship Times

Official Male Championship Times: 1873 – 2012 (Times from 1816-1872 are unavailable)

YEAR TEAM TIME BOAT
1873 Outer Cove 12:05.0
1874 CANCELLED DUE TO RAIN
1875 All Comers 11:35.0
1876 Outer Cove 10:40.0
1877 Placentia 10:28.0
1878 All Comers 09:58.0
1879 Outer Cove 10:11.0
1880 Broad Cove 10:04.0
1881 Broad Cove 09:45.0
1882 Amateurs 09:21.0
1883 Outer Cove 09:45.0
1884 Outer Cove 10:13.0
1885 Outer Cove 09:20.0
1886 Outer Cove 09:35.0
1887 Outer Cove 09:40.0
1888 Tradesmen 10:08.0
1889 Outer Cove 09:52.0
1890 Torbay 09:30.0
1891 Torbay 09:42.0
1892 CANCELLED DUE TO FIRE
1893 Outer Cove 09:56.0
1894 Outer Cove 10:27.0
1895 Torbay 09:45.0
1896 Juveniles 09:58.5
1897 Tradesmen 09:45.8
1898 Tradesmen 09:30.6
1899 S.O.E 10:00.8
1900 Torbay 09:29.0
1901 Outer Cove 09:13.8
1902 Outer Cove 09:22.0
1903 Job’s 09:56.3
1904 Blackhead 09:21.3
1905 Blackhead 09:40.3
1906 Blackhead 09:34.0
1907 Outer Cove 09:53.2
1908 Outer Cove 09:45.0
1909 Outer Cove 09:38.2
1910 Torbay 09:36.6
1911 Torbay 09:45.0
1912 L.O.A 09:54.0
1913 Torbay 10:51.0
1914 Logy Bay 09:46.0
1915 CANCELLED DUE TO WAR
1916 CANCELLED DUE TO WAR
1917 CANCELLED DUE TO WAR
1918 CANCELLED DUE TO WAR
1919 Logy Bay 09:32.2
1920 Truckmen 10:06.0
1921 Truckmen 09:55.4
1922 Outer Cove 09.40.0
1923 Outer Cove 09:47.0
1924 Truckmen 09:51.0
1925 Truckmen 09:44.2
1926 Outer Cove 09:41.0
1927 Amateurs 09:50.8
1928 Truckmen 09:55.2
1929 Labourers 09:42.0
1930 Labourers 09:45.6
1931 Fishermen 09:47.0
1932 St. Joseph’s 09:44.0
1933 Fishermen 10:14.6
1934 All Comers 09:29.0
1935 Police 09:47.0
1936 All Comers 10:12.0
1937 Police 09:41.0
1938 Police 09:37.2
1939 Police 09:36.8
1940 CANCELLED DUE TO WAR
1941 Ex-Servicemen 10:20.0
1942 Canadian Navy 10:09.0
1943 Nfld. Regiment 10:07.8
1944 Labourers 09:46.6
1945 Labourers 10:00.2
1946 Police 09:55.2
1947 U.S. Army Docks 09:59.4
1948 Labourers 11:09.0
1949 Higher Levels (Intermediate) 10:45.0
1950 Higher Levels 11:11.4
1951 Amateurs 10:27.2
1952 Labourers 10:15.0
1953 Labourers 09:51.4
1954 U.S. Air Police 09:56.0
1955 U.S. Air Police 10:06.0
1956 Patricians 10:01.0
1957 St. Bon’s 10:10.0
1958 City Police 09:45.0
1959 William Summers Jr. 09:49.2
1960 William Summers Jr. 09:51.0
1961 William Summers Jr. 10:10.0
1962 William Summers Jr. 10:01.4
1963 William Summers Jr. 10:08.0
1964 William Summers Jr. 10:07.8
1965 Jerseyside 10:54.8
1966 Newfoundland Light & Power 10:03.0
1967 Warrens Texaco 10:12.2
1968 William Summers Jr. 10:27.0
1969 Newfoundland Light & Power 10:03.0
1970 Crosbie Services 09:50.0
1971 Newfoundland Light & Power 10:02.0
1972 Crosbie Services 10:06.0
1973 NAVFAC 09:51.0
1974 NF Light & Power and Hickman’s (Dead Heat) 10:10.0
1975 Hickman’s 10:02.8
1976 Placentia 09:56.8
1977 Placentia Lion’s 09:54.2
1978 Boys Club 09:52.0
1979 Smith-Stockley 10:01.3
1980 Boys Club 09:46.9
1981 Boys and Girls Club 09:23.2
1982 Outer Cove 09:12.3
1983 Outer Cove 09:05.3
1984 Outer Cove 09:21.2
1985 Smith-Stockley 09:06.2
1986 Smith-Stockley 09:19.3
1987 Smith Stockley 09:55.1 The Native
1988 RNC-Lakeshore Homes 09:29.3 The Viking
1989 RNC-Lakeshore Homes 09:01.2 The Blue Peter
1990 RNC-Lakeshore Homes 09:10.0 The Viking
1991 Smith Stockley-Outer Cove 08:59.4 Good Luck
1992 Smith Stockley-Outer Cove 09:04.5 Good Luck
1993 Outer Cove-Coldwell Banker 09:20.2 Dictator
1994 Smith Stockley-Outer Cove 09:08.3 Good Luck
1995 Butternut Bread 09:01.1 Good Luck
1996 RNC-Grand Banks Alliance 09:22.6 Miss Molson
1997 Butternut 09:11.1 Good Luck
1998 RNC-Discovery Springs 09:16.3 Captain Morgan
1999 NTV 09:15.7 Good Luck
2000 NTV 09:08.6 Miss Molson
2001 NTV 09:08.4 Miss Molson
2002 NTV 09:07.2 Miss Molson
2003 NF Power 09:05.6 Miss Molson
2004 NTV 09:12.7 Miss Molson
2005 The Independent 09:04.0 Miss Tubular
2006 Crosbie Industrial 09:24.5 Miss Tubular
2007 Crosbie Industrial 08:51.3 Miss Tubular
2008 O’Dea Earle 09:22.2 Miss Molson
2009 East Coast Maintenance Services 09:09.7 Miss Tubular
2010 Rogers Bussey Lawyers 09:32.8 Miss Tubular
2011 Rogers Bussey Lawyers 09:10.8 Miss Tubular
2012 Rogers Bussey Lawyers 09:16.6 Miss Tubular
2013 Toyota 09:23.4 Miss Tubular
2014 Bussey Howrood Lawyers 09:14.5 Iceberg Gold
2015  Max Arts. Athletics Wellness  9:26.32
2016  Outer Cove  9:09.68

Official Female Championship Times: 1979 – 2012

YEAR TEAM TIME BOAT
1979 Health Science 06:11.3
1980 General Hospital 05:50.0
1981 Dunne’s Fuel 05:36.3
1982 General Hospital 05:29.1
1983 Dunne’s Fuel 05:23.7
1984 Central Dairies 05:34.2
1985 Central Dairies 05:19.1
1986 Ryan’s Construction 05:24.8
1987 Ryan’s Construction 05:53.0 The Blue Peter
1988 OZ FM 05:20.3 The Native
1989 OZ FM 05:22.1 The Native
1990 OZ FM 05:08.3 Blue Peter VI
1991 Trinity Bay Offshore 05:11.0 Dictator
1992 VOCM-Hibernia 05:17.8 Good Luck
1993 OZ FM-Mark’s Work Warehouse 05:11.7 Dictator
1994 OZ FM 04:59.5 Good Luck
1995 Keyin Tech 05:02.0 Good Luck
1996 Keyin Tech 05:18.6 Miss Molson
1997 Keyin Tech 05:10.3 Captain Morgan
1998 OZ FM 05:04.5 Good Luck
1999 Keyin College 05:03.6 Good Luck
2000 OZ FM 05:07.8 Good Luck
2001 Keyin College 05:11.4 Good Luck
2002 OZ FM 05:08.3 Miss Tubular
2003 OZ FM 04:58.7 Miss Tubular
2004 Jungle Jim’s 05:06.5 Miss Tubular
2005 Compusult A/Canada Games 04:57.8 Miss Molson
2006 OZ FM 05:16.2 Miss Tubular
2007 O’Dea Earle 05:06.2 Miss Tubular
2008 H.J. O’Connell Construction 05:03.5 Miss Tubular
2009 JAC Marketing & Advertising / Canada Games 05:08.3 Good Luck
2010 M5 05:05.2 Miss Tubular
2011 M5 04:59.3 Miss Tubular
2012 Roebothan McKay Marshall 05:04.2 Miss Tubular
2013 Max Girls 1 05:12.4 Miss Tubular
2014 Max Athletics Women 05:11.8 Pomerleau
2015 Roebothan McKay Marshall 5:18.44
2016 M5 05:10.16

The Royal St. John's Regatta Record Book

From champions of the past to our latest record breakers, you’ll find them below. Each name is a testament to the spirit of sportsmanship that embodies the Royal St. John’s Regatta.

Vintage Regatta Crew

The Church Lads Brigade Regimental Band

This year marks the 114th anniversary of the CLB Regimental Band. In the beginning, it was just a small fife and drum band, but it eventually evolved into the full military band which we all enjoy today.

Over the years, the band has performed on many special occasions including the visits of various members of the Royal Family, the visit of Pope John Paul II, for the veterans of both World Wars, when the band lead them at their departure and upon their return home. In fact, the CLB Band still provides music at parades for the various branches of the armed forces in the St. John’s area.

Since 1964, the CLB Regimental Band has been a well known and important feature at the annual Royal St. John’s Regatta. The Band’s rendition of “The Banks of Newfoundland”, what has become known throughout this province as “Up the Pond”, is as much a part of Regatta tradition as each race at which it is played.

The Royal St. John’s Regatta Committee thanks the the CLB Band for providing the music during Regatta Day. We salute all members of the Band and thank them for the past 46 years of continuous service at the Walter F. Learning Bandstand.

Walter F. Learning Bandstand

The Bandstand at Quidi Vidi Lake represents a long-standing icon of the Royal St. John’s Regatta, providing a “home” to the Church Lads Brigade (“CLB”)’s Regimental Band on the day of the Royal St. John’s Regatta as the band entertained spectators and rowers alike.

Major Walter Francis Learning accepted the position of Bandmaster of the Regimental Band in 1964 and provided guidance and leadership to the band for 36 years, until his retirement as Bandmaster following the conclusion of the 2010 Royal St. John’s Regatta.

Major Learning was a long time member of the Church Lads Brigade, having joined the CLB in 1939 under the regimental number 5293. Throughout his 73 year involvement, he progressed through the ranks of the CLB and took a fond interest in music and joined the CLB’s Regimental Band. Major Learning was a member with the Band for 68 years and played a leading role in recruitment classes, wherein he, and others, taught new recruits how to play, eventually taking on the position of Assistant Bandmaster for several years.

Through his involvement with the CLB Band, Major Learning participated in or lead the Band in the Royal St. John’s Regatta for 47 years, performing numerous songs from the Bandstand at Quidi Vidi Lake, at the start and finish of each race, and at various times throughout the day. Rain or shine, cold or heat the Band under Major Learning’s guidance, performed admirably.

Major Walter F. Learning was awarded the highest award of the CLB, the Medal of Merit in 1992. He was appointed a member of the Order of Canada in 1995. In 1996 he was named the Knights of Columbus Citizen of the Year and in 2000, was presented with the Freedom of the City, by the City of St. John’s. With the unfailing support that wife, Marjorie, provided for Walter throughout his career with the CLB band and the Regatta over those many years, these achievements could not have happened.

The Learning family has had a long involvement with the CLB and The Royal St. John’s Regatta. Walter followed in his father’s footsteps as he too played at the regatta, and his son Donald and son-in-law Gunnar were also members of the band. Mrs. Learning worked at the CLB concession and daughter Sheri sang the opening to the Regatta, the Ode of Newfoundland for many years. In fact with that involvement, encouraged by Walter, they didn’t take their family vacation until after the first week in August!

With this background, passion for the Regatta and the CLB Regimental Band, it seemed only fitting, and truly deserved, for the Bandstand to be named the Walter F. Learning Bandstand in recognition of Major Learning’s almost 50 years of contributions to the CLB Regimental Band and the Royal St. John’s Regatta!