Eight competitors (four men and four women) were invited to race over the 750m sprint distance on Philadelphia’s Schuylkill River. They included men’s single sculls Olympic Champion Mahe Drysdale of New Zealand. Rio Olympic silver medallist Damir Martin of Croatia and Rio medallists in the men’s double sculls, Kjetil Borch of Norway (bronze) and Martin Sinkovic of Croatia (gold).  For the women last year’s Gold Cup winner, Kim Brennan of Australia led the list. Brennan is the Rio Olympic Champion in the women’s single sculls. Silver medallist from Rio, Genevra Stone of the United States and also fourth and fifth placed scullers from Rio, Emma Twigg (New Zealand) and Jeannine Gmelin (Switzerland) respectively.

Brennan won again this year for the women, pocketing US$10,000 for her effort. Just back from her honeymoon which included visiting the Kafue River & Rowing Centre in Zambia, Brennan proved to be in top form. Twigg finished two seconds behind Brennan with the second place earning her US$5,000. Stone was third and Gmelin fourth. Their winnings were US$2,000 and US$1,000 respectively.

Martin took away the biggest pay out by winning the men’s Gold Cup race. Borch, who won in 2015, came second with Sinkovic in third and Drysdale in fourth, all of them won the same prizes as the women.

2016 Philadephia Gold Cup Participants © Steve McArthur


Most of these scullers came to Philadelphia after competing in the Head of the Charles in Boston the weekend prior. This included all four women racing together in the women’s eight as well as Brennan and Twigg racing together to a win in the women’s double sculls. Martin and Drysdale were also at the Head of the Charles and they raced in the men’s eight together.

Before the Gold Cup race, the scullers visited local high school crews and did some coaching on the indoor rowing machines.

The Gold Cup has a rich history which goes back 94 years. The Cup was to honour the best single sculler in the world and saw the best amateur male single scullers race each other over a sprint distance on the Schuylkill River.  The first recipient of the Cup was the famous Philadelphian rower, John Kelly Sr. Kelly won gold in the men’s single sculls and men’s double sculls at the 1920 Olympic Games.

The Cup disappeared in the 1960s, but was then found in 1996 and in 2011 the Gold Cup race was reinstated with women added to the challenge for the Cup.