Annual Aberdeen Boat Race promises to be city classic

Friday 10 February 2023

Presidents, Kirsten and Michael
Excitement is building for this year’s Aberdeen Boat Race as Robert Gordon University (RGU) and University of Aberdeen prepare to go head-to-head on Saturday 11 March.

On this, the 28th annual race between the two institutions, the teams are to race under the theme of ‘row it like you own it’ and hope to see supporters of both sides join them at the Aberdeen Boat Club to cheer on their respective side.

Aberdeen’s answer to the famous Oxford-Cambridge showdown, and currently the longest running boat race in Scotland, has been running since 1996 and takes place on a 3.5km stretch of River Dee between the Bridge of Dee and Aberdeen Boat Club.

Honours were even going into 2022’s headline event after the second crew race was won by RGU before University of Aberdeen won the alumni tie.

Sealing the bragging rights though was University of Aberdeen who cruised towards the finish line to comfortably beat their rivals with a time of 8m 22s.

Their victory leaves the current overall standings at 19-8 against RGU who had been slowly clawing back the deficit. Their first win didn’t come until 2006 but since then it’s faired fair more evenly, standing at 9-8 towards University of Aberdeen.

Steve Olivier, Principal and Vice Chancellor of Robert Gordon University, said: “The Aberdeen Boat Race is a significant event for the city that shows off the sporting prowess of both universities in the region.

“The teams put in a huge amount of training for the event and I am looking forward to celebrating their commitment with many of our University’s community on the day.”

Professor George Boyne, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Aberdeen, said: “The Aberdeen Boat Race offers the North East public a unique opportunity to share a celebration of sporting rivalry and athleticism on the beautiful banks of the River Dee.

“I’d encourage everyone, whether they are part of the local community, have friends or family taking part or are current students or alumni to come along and show their support for this very special event.

“Both teams train incredibly hard for this competition which is a highlight of Aberdeen’s sporting calendar and I wish everyone taking part good luck.”

Testing the crews physical and mental endurance to the limit, it takes each competitor around 5,500 strokes to get through the gruelling race with the record time coming in 2016 by RGU – a mightily impressive 7m 38s.

UoA first crew winners
RGU first crew prepare for racing
Aberdeen Boat Club
UoA first crew enter the Boat Club to applause
Lynn Kilbride thanks crowd and organisers
RGU second crew winners
UoA alumni winners
RGU alumni crew
RGUBC and AUBC 2023 crews
Kirstin McCallum and Michael Troy

President of the Robert Gordon University Boat Club is Michael Troy, a fourth year Biology student who has past experience in this race as well as further afield, even representing Scotland.

He said: “I couldn’t be more excited about this year’s race. I have such strong belief in our crew this year, we’ve got such a great team spirit and cohesiveness and I feel we have a great chance.

“We'd encourage all to come down to the river on the day and watch all events as they're assured to be as exciting as one another. This is the highlight of our year representing our universities’ - putting all our time training for this event on the line to win against our counterparts.”

Michael’s rival on the day is Kirstin McCallum, President of the Aberdeen University Boat Club and fourth year Economics student. She added: “Both universities have been training very hard and it’s shaping up to be the closest boat race we’ve seen in a while.

“I hope the strength of the squads and some healthy competition between us will push us to finish in quick times on the day. Both crews will be fighting right to the line so will be a great race to come and watch!”

The day’s first race, the university second crews, will begin at 14:35 before the alumni race and ultimately the main event which will begin at 15:45 with supporters encouraged to show their support by cheering from the riverbanks throughout.

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