The Boat Race was first conceived in 1995 by a group of previous Aberdeen Universities rowers following the tragic and unexpected death of a fellow rower. It has since been held in honour of his dedication to the sport and commitment to the promotion of rowing amongst Universities students within Aberdeen. Following its conception the race has become a regular fixture in the British rowing calendar growing from strength to strength each year since.
Held on the River Dee it see Aberdeen’s two Universities, Aberdeen University and Robert Gordon University, battle over a 3.5km stretch of water. It is fair to argue that this makes the atmosphere around the race even more tense, as it is a true ‘winner takes all’ situation, taking everything from glory to prizes – a considerable value of money from the Boat Race sponsors Aberdeen Asset Management, and not least the bragging rights for the coming year.
Having raced the 3.5km distance against each other 18 times in the Boat Race, the current score is 14 – 5 to Aberdeen University. Thus the Aberdeen University rowers know that there is much more than just the prize at stake.
The composition of the crew is a mixed, 4 male rowers, 4 female rowers and of course a cox of either gender. The Aberdeen University crew is selected at the discretion of the AUBC president, the decision based on many factors. This can include seat racing, erg testing and video sessions during which the technical skills of each rower are evaluated. Thus becoming a part of the AUBC first crew is not something the rowers take lightly.
The day of the Boat Race consists of several races throughout the day. The Second Crew’s Race, the Alumni’s Race, the Media Cup and the Boat Race itself. Before each race a coin toss takes place to determine which side of the river the crews will be racing on. Depending upon the conditions on the day certain advantages can be found at certain points in the river, the use of these advantages depends to a large extent upon an experienced cox and how well he or she knows the river.
The Second Crew is also a mixed gender crew with both clubs traditionally agreeing to select only people only in their first year of rowing . Thus it is something for people new to the sport and for them to aim towards. This race is also much shorter than than the other races and is more a of sprint over 800m.
The Alumni’s Race is as the name says a race between rowers who have previously rowed for the two clubs but are now graduates. This race is the same distance as the first crew namely 3.5km.
The Media Challenge Cup consists of races between local media celebrities in coxed ‘tub’ pairs over a sprint 300m distance, compared to the other races of the day, the Media Challenge Cup is a more light-hearted event which can amuse all spectators regardless of which club one is cheering for.
Followed by a day of battling it out on the water, competitors, club members and organisers get together for the glamorous Boat Race Ball, something which, win or lose, is a truly enjoyable evening involving a black tie dress code, fine dining, speeches and ceilidh.
The date of the 2015 Boat Race is yet to be determined but rest assured that it is an event well worth experiencing whether as a competitor or as a spectator!