Yes, you all know that the race between Oxford and Cambridge men is the oldest ‘Boat Race’ in the world, first rowed in 1829. You are probably also aware that the second oldest student boat race is the one between the American universities Harvard and Yale, with its premier race in 1852. However, which boat race comes next? It is a little tricky, maybe…. It was rowed the first time in 1870. It is ……. Yes, well done, it is the Australian race between Melbourne and Sydney universities. Now, which student boat race is in fourth place (but pronounces itself as number 2 or 3)? Well, it is the Scottish boat race. The Scottish newspapers and both universities claim that the one between Edinburgh and Glasgow is either the second or third oldest, but being first rowed in 1877, the Australian race beats them by seven years.
Well, anyway, last Saturday on 24 May, not one but six races were rowed on the River Clyde in Glasgow between Edinburgh and Glasgow. The main races between the women’s A crews and men’s A crews, and the two races between the reserve crews, women and men, were rowed from Broomielaw Quay to the grandstand finish at the Riverside Museum, a distance of 2.6 km, while the two other eights races, between the alumni crews, were rowed on a shorter distance, a 500-metre sprint.
Hundreds of spectators, including Scottish Olympic gold medallist Katherine Grainger, who acted as starter, watched Edinburgh win five of the six races, Glasgow only taking the women’s A race.
The final event of the day was off-water, ‘a novice erg challenge, where Edinburgh’s Calum Irvine, David Duffy, Jill Scott-Dodd and Kathryn Corrie took turns rowing 250-metre on the erg until they had won the 2k race with a time of 5:58’, Charles Thompson, sponsorship secretary, writes in an e-mail.
Edinburgh’s men, who were an experienced crew and were favourites this year, managed to defend the title, which they won last year, after Glasgow had had a long victory run since 1999. Last year, Edinburgh’s women took the title, but on Saturday Glasgow’s women proved to be too strong. Rebecca Lightfoot, number 7 in the Glasgow women’s crew, told a Scottish newspaper: ‘We had a very good race and stuck to our race plan which was great. Unfortunately, Edinburgh had an issue, which held them up, but we had to carry on and worked really well to the end.’
On the University of Edinburgh’s sport website, Andy Barton, director of rowing at the University of Glasgow, said: ‘The Scottish Boat Race is a fantastic concept and is an excellent opportunity to raise awareness of the sport in this country. One of the best things as well, is that it’s not just a group of students getting together for a laugh, it is a very intense day of high-level competition with some brilliant athletes on show.’
About the regatta, Katherine Grainger said: ‘It’s been brilliant. It was pretty dominant by Edinburgh University this time round, which is a bit of a shame as it’s nice when it’s close racing all round, but it’s always a great event and it’s lovely to see so many people coming down to support it and cheer on the rowers’.
University of Glasgow: Bow Steph Tinney, 2 Heather Walker, 3 Zoe Wilson, 4 Alison Kells, 5 Hannah Duncan, 6 Claire Aitken, 7 Rebecca Lightfoot, Stroke Emma McDonald and Cox Emma Baxter.
University of Edinburgh: Bow Kathryn Corrie, 2 Jill Scott-Dodd, 3 Lucy White, 4 Lydia Stuart-Kregor, 5 Beth Simmonds, 6 Claire Harland, 7 Maddie Arlett, Stroke Robyn Hart-Winks and Cox Louisa Skevington.
University of Glasgow: Bow Luke Cerexhe, 2 Alasdair Lennie, 3 Duncan McCoy, 4 Jonny Cheyne, 5 Andrew Burchell, 6 Patrick Murray, 7 Julian Sprossmann, Stroke Leo Glass and Cox Rhona Findlay.
University of Edinburg: Bow Tom Claxton,2 Kieran Brown, 3 James Stirling, 4 Rufus Scholefield, 5 Rob Hall, 6 Graham Ord, 7 Henry Millar, Stroke Colin Barrett and Cox Eleanor Hall.
This article was corrected and updated on 27 May, at 12:00.