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‘Fiercely competitive’ UoA seek another River Dee victory

Rivalry of Aberdeen Boat Race ‘immense’ says ‘potentially stronger’ RGU crew


By Jake Roslin

Courtesy of the Committee of the Dee


Top rowers from Aberdeen University and RGU will head to Aberdeen’s southern river on Saturday (2 April) for the annual Aberdeen Boat Race where UoA will defend last year’s title.


Modelled on the 200-year-old Oxford-Cambridge Varsity Boat Race on the Thames and the Edinburgh-Glasgow University Race on the Clyde, the local derby began in 1996, with AU Boat Club leading RGU Boat Club with 18-8 wins. But while AUBC dominated the early years, since 2006 each university has taken eight victories.


‘The race is held on the River Dee, where we usually train,’ AUBC President Emily Carruthers told The Gaudie.

‘We have two racing lines... Torry side and City side, to ensure there is minimal risk of the boats crashing, and allow for exciting side by side racing all the way from the start to the finish. It is 3.7km long so requires stamina from both crews, as well as relying on our coxes to keep a good line and keep us motivated throughout!’


It is tradition the losing crew each year challenge the winners to the subsequent race In January, RGUBC’s President Sarah Cameron threw down the gauntlet to Carruthers for what promises to be a full scale event, unlike 2021, when only the primary crew raced due to Covid-19 restrictions. In a rare cross-university collaboration, the two clubs train together most of the year. However this weekend the competitive spirit between the blues and purples is back with a vengeance.


Three races will take place in 2022: First VIII, Second VIII and Alumni.


‘The rivalry surrounding the race is immense,’ said Cameron.

‘Throughout the year we are all friends, but the weeks before are filled with tension as everybody wants to win.’

The clubs also participate in other competitions in Scotland and beyond, including the Henley Royal. Taster days for new recruits take place in September for those who have never rowed before. ‘You don't need to be superfit when joining,’ Carruthers added, ‘And we take on people of all experiences, our Second VIII this year is made up completely of those who only learnt to row in September 2021! Even if you don't make it into the First VIII, there are plenty of opportunities to win medals and compete at events all over the UK’.


Some rowers study Sports Science at RGU, and Cameron told The Gaudie many have gone on to become professional athletes. ‘Two years ago we had an individual who won the para indoor rowing championships,’ she said, ‘Similarly there have been a number of individuals who have trialled and rowed for Great Britain’. The clubs also organise fundraising events, such as a 24 Hour Row for the local Four Pillars charity in February.


The race itself is fiercely competitive,’ added Carruthers, ‘however these are our teammates we are racing against, so the ball held on the evening of the race is always a fun event to celebrate the winning crew and ensure friendships between AU and RGU are strengthened!’


‘It’s hard to tell who will come out on top this year,’ mused Cameron, ‘We are a less experienced crew but potentially stronger, so we’re hoping to take the win home for RGU.’


The Aberdeen Boat Race begins at 3.30pm on Saturday 2 April at the Bridge of Dee with the finishing line by Aberdeen Boat Club. Supporters are urged to wear university blues and purples and scarves will be on sale along with refreshments on the day.