July 6, 2023 (St. John’s, NL) – The Royal St. John’s Regatta Committee is pleased to announce two new inductees into the Regatta Hall of Fame: Charles Cook, in the category of builder, and Ed Williams, in the category of rower.
“This year we have added two worthy inductees to the Regatta Hall of Fame,” said Noelle Thomas-Kennell, President of the Royal St. John’s Regatta Committee.
“Past President and Regatta Committee Member Charles Cook and Rower Ed Williams have both generously given of their time and expertise to the sport of fixed seat rowing, and we are happy to honour their dedication and many contributions to the Royal St. John’s Regatta.”
The Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony will be hosted by the City of St. John’s on Wednesday, July 26, 2023 at the St. John’s Convention Centre.
Director of Communications
T: (709) 693-2722
Charles Cook, a stalwart and dedicated member of the regatta community, has left an indelible mark on the Royal St. John’s Regatta. With unwavering commitment and a passion for excellence, Mr. Cook has served the Regatta Committee with distinction, making significant contributions in various roles over the years.
His journey began in the late 1970s when he took to the waters as a rower in the Fun ‘n’ Fast men’s senior team as a rower, Mr. Cook experienced firsthand the exhilaration and challenges of the regatta, fostering a deep-rooted connection and love for the sport.
Following his father Charlie Cook, Mr. Cook began his participation as a Regatta Committee member in 1990, eager to lend his skills and expertise. It wasn’t long before his exceptional abilities were recognized, and he was appointed as the Director of Ground Space. Embracing this responsibility wholeheartedly, Mr. Cook proved himself to be a capable and efficient leader. His unwavering dedication and meticulous planning were instrumental in creating an optimal environment for regatta participants and spectators alike.
In recognition of his outstanding contributions, Mr. Cook was entrusted with the vital role of Treasurer. Stepping into this position, he faced a formidable challenge—the regatta had a burdensome long-term debt of $200,000. Driven by his determination and financial acumen, Mr. Mr. Cook worked tirelessly, implementing sound fiscal strategies and rallying the support of the regatta community. Within a mere 3 years, the debt was paid off, and an impressive $100,000 surplus was accumulated in the bank—a testament to Mr. Cook’s unwavering dedication and financial stewardship. Mr. Cook’s commitment to the organization’s financial wellness was proven again in 2023 when he rejoined (and continues to serve on) the finance committee.
Elevating his involvement further, Mr. Cook assumed the roles of Vice President in 2006 and 2007, followed by the position of President in 2008 and 2009. His visionary leadership and exceptional organizational skills set new standards of excellence for the Regatta. Mr. Cook’s tenure as President marked a period of tremendous growth and success, with his strategic decision-making and collaborative approach propelling the regatta to new heights.
Recognizing his invaluable contributions, Mr. Cook was bestowed the honor of becoming the Hall of Fame Chair after serving two years as Past President. As Hall of Fame Chair for a notable 6 years, he spearheaded the induction process, ensuring the Regatta’s most exceptional contributors were rightfully recognized and celebrated.
Mr. Cook’s dedication extended beyond administrative roles, as he actively participated in various committees. As a longstanding member of the Rules Committee, he played a pivotal role in maintaining the integrity and fairness of regatta competitions. Embodying a true hands-on spirit, he’s also often seen in the boathouse and on the water, readily stepping in to assist the boathouse manager with daily operations and shell maintenance.
Additionally, Mr. Cook contributed his expertise to the 200th-Anniversary Committee, assuming the chairmanship in 2016. Under his guidance, the Winners’ Circle and the Hall of Fame monument were realized, serving as enduring symbols of the regatta’s rich history. His tireless efforts included extensive coordination with all levels of government, resulting in securing an impressive $3 million in funding throughout his years on the Committee —an achievement that exemplifies Mr. Cook’s ability to bridge diverse interests and accomplish remarkable goals.
Charles Cook’s extraordinary journey with the Royal St. John’s Regatta is a testament to his remarkable leadership, organizational acumen, and unwavering dedication. This exceptional commitment and outstanding contributions have made him a true icon within the Royal St. John’s Regatta community.
Ed Williams’ prestigious career as a rower embodies an unparalleled combination of athleticism, dedication and achievement. His decades of commitment to the sport of fixed seat rowing is not only proof of his personal abilities and success as a rower, but an inspiration to his contemporaries and generations of rowers to come.
Starting in 1987 with the Re/Max Crew, Mr. Williams rowed until 2007 after competing in numerous championship races that culminated in two Placentia Regatta championship wins and six Royal St. John’s Regatta championship wins. Mr. Williams also holds two Regatta long course records and was named 1994 oarsman of the year.
Mr. Williams’ first championship was in 1999 with the NTV crew, who would go on to win four straight championships. Though this achievement is remarkable in and of itself, Mr. Williams would also go on to win two more championship races with Crosbie Industrial crew in 2006 and 2007. Crosbie Industrial, considered one of the greatest crews of all time, would break the nine minute long course barrier, including the historical 2007 Regatta where the Crosbie Industrial crew would break the course record, not once, but twice in the same day. This achievement is considered one of the greatest single Regatta performances of all time, resulting in Mr. Williams and the team being awarded the prestigious Lord Warden’s Medal for their efforts. 8:51.32 continues to be current long course record 15 years later. Now, on the 15th anniversary of this record performance, Mr. Williams is back in the boat competing in the men’s masters’ category.
Mr. Williams contribution extends beyond his success as an oarsman, working at the boathouse in the early 1990’s teaching many crews how to row. He has also competed as coxswain and coach.
Culturally, Mr. Williams has also contributed to the Regatta, both by writing a song about the 1884 tragedy of the death of members of the Torbay Crew titled “Ghosts Upon the Shore” and penning the famous poem “The Last Race of the Day”, which was featured in the 1995 Regatta program and currently hangs on a plaque in the Regatta museum.
For these many achievements and his years of dedication to the sport of fixed seat rowing, Ed Williams is recognized and honoured as a 2023 Royal St. John’s Regatta Committee Hall of Fame Inductee.
The Hall of Fame Committee puts out a call for nominations in the spring of each year. The three categories are: Rower/Crew, Coach/Coxswain, and Builder. The Committee receives and reviews applications, and certificates are presented at a special luncheon the Wednesday before the Regatta.
The 2023 Royal St. John’s Regatta Hall of Fame Committee members are: Don Kelly (Chair), Bob Whelan (Secretary), Brendan McCarthy, Brian Madore, Mike Power, Wayne Purchase, Gail Malone, and Chris Neary.
“We take pride in ensuring deserving candidates are inducted into the Hall of Fame each year,” said Mr. Kelly. “We take passion in recognizing these exceptional individuals and highly encourage people to submit a nomination for future inductees.”
The Regatta Hall of Fame was established in 1987, with three objectives. The first is to recognize, honour and pay tribute to individuals or crews on the basis of ability, sportsmanship, character and achievement or extraordinary distinction in fixed seat rowing, whether amateur or professional.
The second is to recognize, honour and pay tribute to those individuals, groups or associations who have given distinguished service and who have made a major contribution to the development and advancement of fixed seat rowing in Newfoundland.
And the third is to encourage the development of all aspects of fixed seat rowing by permanently recording the achievements and history of such individuals, groups, associations, or crews.
The 205th Royal St. John’s Regatta will take place on Wednesday, August 2nd (weather permitting). Additional information about the regatta can be found at www.stjohnsregatta.com.