The Disher Challenge Cup is awarded to the winner of a rowing race for eight oared boats over a distance of approximately 3 miles. The only competitors are the Australian Defence Force Academy (ADFA), the Royal Military College of Australia, Duntroon (RMC), and the Australian National University (ANU). Other crews race by invitation, but cannot be awarded the Cup. The race is run annually and is normally held during the first half of the year. The exact date varies to accord with the commitments of the students at ADFA and RMC.
The race was first run in 1971, between ANU and RMC (ADFA was not established until 1985) to provide a healthy outlet to the boisterous rivalry between students at the two institutions. It has been held every year since then, with changes to provide additional races for other boat types; for female crews; and course changes to make it fairer.
The Cup was named after Captain H.C. (Clive) Disher of the Australian Army Medical Corps, who stroked the 1919 Australian Imperial Force (AIF) Number 1 crew. This crew beat Oxford University in the final of the Inter-Allied Services event at the Henley Peace Regatta after the end of the First World War. Clive Disher was able to present the Disher Cup to ANU in 1971, the inaugural winning crew.
The race is rowed on Lake Burley Griffin, a 10km long artificial lake in the centre of Canberra, Australia's capital city. The original course was 4.8km from Sullivan's Creek at the ANU to the mouth of the Molonglo River near Duntroon. The course was changed to a fairer and safer one that is 4250 metres and begins at Aspen island, tracks under Commonwealth Bridge and finishes at Yarralumla. Both the men's (for the Disher Challenge Cup) and women's eights race are over the 4250 metre course. Races for men's and women's coxed fours over 2000 metres are also held as a part of the Disher Cup Regatta.
Other trophies contested for at the Disher Cup Regatta are:
The inscription on the Disher Challenge Cup reads: