The Boat Race Organising Committee has confirmed that the annual Aberdeen Boat Race will go ahead this year with significant changes to the usual format.
Every year, Aberdeen University and Robert Gordon University (RGU) battle it out in a 3.5 kilometer boat race from Bridge of Dee to Aberdeen Boat Club.
This year’s race will be the 26th of its kind, and is due to go ahead on May 26.
Changes have had to be made to the structure of this year’s race due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and consequent social distancing measures. Aberdeen is currently in level 3.
This year will be different
While the race usually features a first crew race, a second crew race, an alumni race and a media race, this year will be different.
Bob Newton, chairman of the committee explained the changes that can be expected: “In light of ongoing national restrictions, and following detailed discussion over the format of this year’s university boat race, both universities and the Boat Race Organising Committee have decided that this year’s race will go ahead but in a limited format.
“This will see only one single boat race between the respective university teams, to take place later this month. The traditional second crew boat race, alumni race and media race will not go ahead.”
In past years the race has been a large event in the city.
Mr Newton addressed the issue of spectators at this year’s race: “We must emphasise that this is not a spectator event, and our strong advice is that people should not attend given ongoing national restrictions. We are currently exploring options that will see a recording of the race being made available afterwards.”
History of the race
The first boat race was held in 1996. It was set up by students Nathan Birch and John Langley who were envious of the race between Glasgow and Edinburgh universities.
In the history of the race, Aberdeen University has 17 wins under its belt while RGU has 8. A coin toss has always decided river stations.
Aberdeen University won last year’s race so will be looking to defend their title this year.
A return to normality
Mr Newton hopes the race will return to normality next year.
He said: “We hope that the boat race can return in its usual format next year, but our priority this year is on ensuring it can go ahead safely, with limited risk to participants and the public.”