NEWS RELEASE: ROYAL ST. JOHN’S REGATTA COMMITTEE ELECTS FIRST FEMALE PRESIDENT/VICE-PRESIDENT TEAM IN THE HISTORY OF THE EVENT
JANUARY 27, 2022 (St. John’s, NL): At its virtual Annual General Meeting last evening, the Royal St. John’s Regatta Committee elected a new Board of Directors for 2022, marking history with the first time both the President and Vice-President roles were held by a female, simultaneously.
Noelle Thomas-Kennell completed her two-year term as Vice-President/Captain of the Course and has been elected into the role of President for the 204th Anniversary Royal St. John’s Regatta. A prestigious position, which hasn’t been encompassed by a female since Gail Malone served a two-year term, ending in 2005.
“I am thrilled to have been elected as the second female President of the Royal St. John’s Regatta Committee and am honoured to lead our team in planning the Province’s oldest sporting event,” said Noelle Thomas-Kennell. “This year provides an extra layer of excitement as the Province has declared 2022 as the official “Come Home Year”. It is our sincere hope that we are at a place in the pandemic that allows us to safely execute a traditional Regatta in 2022, and make it the biggest celebration since our 200th anniversary in 2018. The Committee and the rowing community have weathered this storm together, and we will be ready to celebrate when the time is appropriate.”
The Regatta Committee, with its first iteration in 1826, consists of approximately 50 volunteers and is comprised of community members who generously donate time, skills and expertise based on their passion for fixed-seat rowing and the Regatta events. Whether through legacy or as an athlete, all members have a connection.
“The Regatta is in my blood, not only as a previous rower, but also as a third generation Committee member. My mother, Karen Harvey, was the second woman ever voted onto the Committee, alongside Gail, setting the example for the next generation of women. To our knowledge; my mother, grandfather (Alexander (Sandy) McKinlay), and I were the first three living generations serving on the Committee at the same time. My fondest memories are down around the lake on Regatta day following behind the Committee, hoping one day to follow in their footsteps.”
– Noelle Thomas-Kennell
The Vice President of the Regatta Committee also serves as Captain of the Course, the individual responsible for all aspects of race day from schedule creation to the safety of participants and volunteers. Ashley Peach, a seasoned volunteer, championship rower and former coxswain/coach has been elected as the fifth female Vice-President, succeeding a list of strong female leaders; Siobhan Coady, Sharon Tiller, Gail Malone and Noelle Thomas-Kennell.
“My love for rowing started in high school, as a member of a slide-seat team who then moved into fixed-seat shortly thereafter. Given my history as a rower and time as a volunteer with the Committee, I recognize that the Vice President role is no small feat. However, I am eager to embrace that challenge while collaborating with Noelle, Committee and Staff to further advance the modifications initiated by our predecessors, predominantly around female equality within the sport.’
– Ashley Peach, Vice President and Captain of the Course
The Committee is governed by the 11-person Board of Directors and continues to make strides in enhancing the event, while ensuring preservation of tradition and history. The members each hold a unique portfolio and are responsible for a specific area pertinent to Regatta Day and its associated events.
The 2022 Board of Directors includes the following elected volunteers:
The Royal St. John’s Regatta is the oldest continuing organized sporting event in North America, with 2022 marking the organizations’ 204th anniversary.
More information about the Royal St. John’s Regatta, including details regarding operations, learn to row programs, learn to coxswain programs, and resources on how to establish a rowing team can be found at www.stjohnsregatta.com.