The races are rowed over a distance of 1000 yards and take place on the Beira Lake in Colombo. The regatta takes place in the month of October and is usually held on the last Saturday of the month at the Colombo Rowing Club. The Royal Thomian Regatta is the oldest inter-school rowing regatta in Sri Lanka, with Royal the first school to take up school rowing in the country.
The Boat Race is still regarded as the most prestigious race. The Boat Race is rowed for the Royal Thomian Boat Race Trophy (Also known in the rowing fraternity as the 'Crossed Oars'). The overall winner of the Regatta is awarded the T. Noel Fernando Memorial Trophy.
Boat Race 2003 close to the finish line S. Thomas'(nearside) win by 1/2 foot.
Royal College first began rowing in 1953 as the first school in Ceylon to do so, the first Captain was Alavi Mohomed. S. Thomas' College began rowing a few years later.
In the years to follow the idea of a race between the two schools was agreed upon and in 1962 the 1st Boat Race was held on the Beira Lake and the Royalist's led by L.A.W. Sirisena beat the Thomians led by C.N. Sirimanne by 1 boat length and were the first holders of the Boat Race Trophy. S. Thomas won their first Boat Race in 1964 beating Royal by 3 lengths.
In 1966, the 1st Royal Thomian Regatta was held with a line-up of 6 events. Coxed Fours, Coxed Pairs, Single Sculls in two categories Senior and Junior.
Between 1973 and 1979 the regatta was not held due to a dispute between the two schools. The series was revived in 1980 and continues to the present except in 2006 when the regatta was not held.
In 2007 the Royal College led by Maalik Aziz created history by winning all races and winning the Overall Trophy with a margin of 40 points to nil. Royal College created new record timings for most events including lowering the Boat Race Trophy record by 8 secs to 3 mins 11 secs.
In 2008, history was written yet again although in a different manner with every record being broken as a result of tough competition on either side. Though S'Thomas College led by Manil Salgadoe and Devaan Hallock made most of the records including the Boat race(3.06), Royal college too managed to scrape in two records to stay in the count(Junior coxed Fours, Junior 'B' Coxed Fours).
In 2011, the Royal College Rowing Team led by skipper Chirath Karunanayake added a few more records into the books. Among the records set were; a) The biggest winning margin Royal 48-04 (2011)(Previously held by Royal 40 -00 in 2007) b) A new overall course record AND the first ever sub-three minute race, for the Senior Four - 2:55 (Crew consisting of Chirath Karunanayake (B), Ajmal Sideek (2), Jehan Smarasekera (3), Sanjiva Jayasuriya (S) and Coxed by Pasan Ranaweera) c) Junior Four - 3:03 d) Senior Pair - 3:12 e) Senior Sculls - 3:28 f) Junior Sculls - 3:29
All Races are rowed over the distance of 1000 yards.
Each event has specific number of points allotted towards it the aggregate points is equal 40 points (up to 2008), the winner of the each event/race receives these points and at the end of the regatta the school with the highest aggregate of points will be declared the Overall Winner and be the holders of the T. Noel Fernando Trophy.
Royal Thomian Boat Race Trophy
Senior Coxless Pairs
Freddie Ruax Trophy
Senior Double Sculls
Inaugural Trophy (Sirisena-Sirimanne Trophy)
Senior Single Sculls
Senior Sculls Challenge Trophy
Junior Coxed Fours
Eraj Wijesinghe Trophy
Junior Coxless Pairs
Chula Samarasinghe Challenge Trophy
Junior Double Sculls
Revival Trophy (Phillps- Mohdeen Trophy)
Junior Single Sculls
Ajith Goonawardena Challenge Trophy
In 1999, The Junior 'B' Coxed Fours was introduced but the event carries no points.
Junior 'B' Coxed Fours
Percy Fernando Trophy
In 2008, Senior and Junior Double Sculls will be introduced as exhibition events. In 2009 Senior and Junior Double Sculls were awarded 8 and 4 points respectively, with inclusion of the two doubles sculls the overall regatta will be worth 52 points.