RGU v Aberdeen: Boat Race 2017

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Aberdeen University have defeated RGU to win the Aberdeen boat race for the first time since 2011.

The event, held every year on the River Dee, is in its 22nd year. And on a rainy Saturday, Aberdeen claimed a 4 length win to end RGU’s winning streak, stretching back the previous 5 years.

Four races were held on the day, between the alumni and seconds of both universities, alongside the main race and two media crews.

Those crews were meant to be the BBC and Original FM 106, but after the former bailed, a backup crew was scrounged together, christened “Fake News”, and sent to compete in the race-the final race before the main event. Despite their commendable efforts, it was FM 106 which claimed victory in that fixture.

At 17:30, the one everyone had been waiting for finally kicked off. From their starting point at the Bridge of Dee, the boats set off, neck and neck in the initial stages. Aberdeen inched into a half-length lead, but by the bend at Duthie Park RGU had overhauled their rivals; every announcement drawing murmurs from one set of supporters, muted cheers from the other. Then, Aberdeen surged. Upon reaching the Railway Bridge-over halfway there-RGU were behind by 1 and a half lengths. Upon reaching the home stretch, that lead had grown to a 2 and a half length chasm. As soon as the crowd at Aberdeen boat club caught sight of their teams, the result was in no doubt. The ringing of the bell as Aberdeen crossed the line little more than a formality.

Joy for Aberdeen Uni, disappointment for RGU. The streak was over.

The second crews had raced first, beginning at 16:08. RGU got off to a fast start, leading by a length early on, but Aberdeen retook the lead and - to mixed cries of “Go on Aberdeen!” and “Go on RGU” from the boat house balcony - Aberdeen claimed victory by less than a second.

RGU bounced back quickly. 10 minutes after the seconds crews had disembarked,  the alumni-who themselves held a 6 year winning streak against their rivals-took the lead 200 metres into their own race; a lead they would hold all the way to the end, their cold, wet and loyal fans cheering them all the way.  Until they realized there was a problem.

After much confusion, the announcer Terry McNeil declared that, after an infringement, RGU had been disqualified, and that Aberdeen had been awarded the victory. Controversial, but final: Aberdeen had won that event as well, and would go on to complete the hat-trick soon after.

Their reward? Collecting bragging rights and trophies from the Lord Provost at the same time. As for RGU? Well, there’s always next year. 

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