Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN) trainee mine clearance diver Sub Lieutenant Rob Creasy thought his rowing days were long gone.

But this month he lined up for the prestigious Henley Royal Regatta in England.

Sub Lieutenant Creasy, 38, is part of a New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) rowing squad competing for the King's Cup, 100 years since the event was first held at the end of World War I featuring troops waiting to return home.

The Cup was run from 5-7 July at Henley-on-Thames. Australia won the 1919 Cup from New Zealand, the United States, the United Kingdom, France and Canada, and this year the original six nations will be joined by Germany and The Netherlands.

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Sub Lieutenant Creasy, who attended Whanganui Collegiate and calls New Plymouth home, is no stranger to elite sport, having won three World Triathlon Championship age group titles. He has also competed in the Hawaiian Ironman twice.

He rowed for Whanganui Collegiate and New Zealand Universities and then had a hiatus from the sport until a few months ago.

"I remember from when I was rowing that the Olympics was the ultimate, then World Champs and then Henley was the next major regatta," he said.

"So when I saw that we were putting together a team for a Henley regatta I thought, 'Well, I've got to try'. I hadn't been rowing for a long time but I knew I was fit."

Sub Lieutenant Creasy joined the RNZN only three years ago, following a 12-year career in high-performance sport. He was a sports scientist for Triathlon New Zealand for eight years, working with its elite team and travelling to events including the Beijing and London Olympics, the Commonwealth Games and world championships.

Sub Lieutenant Rob Creasy competed for the New Zealand Defence Force rowing team in the King's Cup race at the Henley Royal Regatta.
Sub Lieutenant Rob Creasy competed for the New Zealand Defence Force rowing team in the King's Cup race at the Henley Royal Regatta.

However, he was looking for a change and had family in the military, including brother Lieutenant Warwick Creasy, 35, an RNZN trainee mine clearance diver.

"He talked to me about it and said it was a career I should consider," Sub Lieutenant Creasy said.

The opportunity to row at the Henley Regatta highlighted the opportunities available in the NZDF, he said.

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"That's the beauty of the Defence Force – you get these opportunities that you never expected. It's one of those wildest dreams kind of things – you think the chance has gone by and here it is. It's pretty good."

The NZDF squad for the event is: Leading Aircraftman Alex Hill (coxswain), Major Emily Hume, Lieutenant Commander Juliet MacLean, Corporal Rebekah Salt, Flying Officer Connor Broughton, Sub Lieutenant Rob Creasy, Lieutenant Ricky Daniel-Nield, Lance Corporal Mark Evans, Private Ryan Flintoft, Second Lieutenant Ashton Lovell, Lance Corporal Jack Proudfoot, Ordinary Rate Cathan Tamarapa, Rachel Gamble-Flint (coach), Wing Commander Rhys Taylor (manager).