It is one of the richest prize packages in the sport of rowing and Norwegian Kjetil Borch has won it for the men, with Kim Crow of Australia scoring the first place for the women.

The Gold Cup Challenge for single scullers was raced during the Head of the Schuylkill Regatta in Philadelphia, United States with Borch, 24, winning USD$10,000 by beating Olympic Champion Mahe Drysdale, 35, of New Zealand in the 750m sprint race.  Still, coming second earned Drysdale USD$5,000 while the 2014 World Champion, Ondrej Synek of the Czech Republic took home USD$2,500 for finishing third.

For the women, Crow won handily after getting into the lead at about the half-way point and then finishing nearly two seconds ahead of Olympic Champion Mirka Knapkova of the Czech Republic with American Gevvie Stone in third ahead of Chantal Achterberg of the Netherlands. Crow was the world silver medallist for 2014 in the women's single sculls. The prizes were handed out by the Cup's honorary chairman and five-time Olympic Champion for Great Britain, Steven Redgrave.

Kim Crow racing at the Gold Cup Challenge in Philadelphia, USA. © FISA

Photo thanks to Head of the Schuylkill

The participants in the Gold Cup Challenge come to the race via invitation with just four spots available for each of the men's and women's race. Selecting the right participants happened several months ago with the organisers tying in with Boston's Head of the Charles regatta which took place in the prior week. The rowers competed in the Head of the Charles before coming to Philadelphia (a six hour drive from Boston) in a van together.

Organiser Rebecca Katz described the trip, "I drove a large van with many of them down to Philadelphia (a six-hour drive). It was fun. Kjetil was our “DJ” and selected our music, and Kim helped me to navigate, although of course for her, I was driving on the wrong side of the road. Mostly, the rowers slept on the trip since they had been up late in Boston the night before."

The Gold Cup Challenge rowers of Drysdale, Synek, Borch, Crow, Stone, Achterberg and Knapkova then came together with an American coxswain and extra rower to race in the Head of the Schuylkill men's championship eight. The mixed-gender crew finished third overall and started a tradition that they hope will continue.

"Our goal with The Gold Cup race was to honour a Philadelphia tradition, to honour the elite rowers who devote so much to the sport and serve as inspirations for young athletes, and to honour the fans of the sport by giving them some of the most exciting rowing they'll ever see," said Katz.

The Gold Cup Challenge or Philadelphia Challenge Cup, is a tribute to Olympic gold medallist and Philadelphia local, John B. Kelly Sr. It is run in conjunction with the Head of the Schuylkill Regatta which has about 7,000 participants ranging in age from high school students through the masters rowers.

The Gold Cup Challenge was last raced in 2011 in May with the race over a 2,000m distance. This time of year did not fit in easily with elite athlete training so for 2014 it was changed to October.