The Lipton Cup

The Sir Thomas Lipton Cup stands over three feet in height. In the thoughts of hundreds of oarspersons each year in the mid-western area of Canada and the United States, who are members of the Northwestern International Rowing Association (NWIRA), the size of the trophy and its valuation, are not the paramount significance, but rather the physical manifestation of the accomplishment.

The Annual NWIRA Championship Regatta is the culmination of the rowing season. All the effort and struggle of a year’s training is reduced to two days of rowing. At the completion of the regatta’s often tension packed races, the huge trophy emblematic of the championship is placed in the arms of the winning rowing club.

The Lipton Cup is a symbol of dedication and hard work and it is appropriate that the man who presented the Cup to the Association, Sir Thomas Lipton epitomized these characteristics.

As a young man, Tom Lipton stowed away on a ship bound to New York from his native England. He was a man who through hard work and determination became the millionaire head of the Lipton Tea empire. He was knighted for the great things he had accomplished in establishing good will between England and the United States.

In 1914, he presented the gleaming silver cup to his friend, Con Riley of Winnipeg, as a means of promoting the sport of rowing in this area. Since then the rowing clubs of the Association have fiercely battled each year for the honor of having their names engraved upon the Lipton Cup.

The Lipton Cup is awarded each year to the rowing club scoring the greatest number of points at the NWIRA championship regatta. Over the years, domination of aggregate points has shifted from the Duluth and Winnipeg clubs in the teens and twenties to Thunder Bay and the Minnesota Boat Club during the post-war years. In recent years, the Minneapolis Rowing Club has dominated the championship regatta. In 2007, Saskatoon Rowing Club won the Lipton Cup for the first time. And in 2009 for the first time in 15 years, the Minnesota Boat Club won the Cup for the 30th time.

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