Uni rowing teams come out fighting ahead of varsity Boat Race

The University of Aberdeen's rowing team in action.
Oar-some: The University of Aberdeen team in training for Saturday's race. STV

Members of Aberdeen’s top university rowing teams are gearing up for the biggest race of the year, as they prepare to lock oars at the annual Aberdeen Asset Management Universities’ Boat Race on Saturday afternoon.

The University of Aberdeen and Robert Gordon University rowing teams will battle it out in the main varsity race on the River Dee as part of the Aberdeen Asset Management Universities’ Boat Race.

Now in its 18th year, the race will see the university rowing teams take to the water, ready to take on their rivals in Aberdeen’s equivalent of the Oxbridge race.

The two teams, each comprising of five women and four men, will negotiate a tough course which will present its own difficulties on the day depending on the wind and river conditions

The two teams will congregate at the Bridge of Dee for the coin toss, which decides which side of the river they will row on, either the Torry station or City station. The teams then try to take advantage of their positions as they negotiate a tricky bend in the first kilometre before passing through their designated arches at the King George VI Bridge.

A long bend at Duthie Park leads the way to the Railway Bridge, where the current switches in favour of the City station rapidly, which will see both teams vye for a straight course through the middle of the stream.

Finishing at the Aberdeen Boat Club just past the Queen Elizabeth II Bridge, spectators can see first hand who will be 2013’s winner – and also have a perfect view of the prize giving and the traditional soaking of the winning team’s Cox.

Aside from the customary bragging rights, winning the race comes with an additional cash prize allowing the victors to purchase new equipment, improve their facilities and accommodate more members.

For the first ten years of the race, Aberdeen University dominated the river, but since RGU’s first win seven years ago, the playing field has levelled out. The University of Aberdeen still holds the advantage of four wins to RGU's three in recent times.

And going into the race, RGU will take with them the tag of favourites with a wealth of rowing talent amongst their ranks including rising star Iona Riley, who is tipped to compete in the 2016 Rio Olympic Games and Lewis McCue, who competed in the World Junior Championships last year.

Ingibjørg Thomsen, the University of Aberdeen's team president, said: "I think it's quite clear that it's going to be a tough race but I think we've got a good crew and we've got a good chance.

"We're reasonably confident as we've put a lot of effort into it. As I said, it's going to be tough but we'll do our very best."

However, anything can happen once the the first stroke is made and RGU believe they have what it takes to go all the way.

Rachel Joyce, RGU team president, said: "Coming up to boat race day is when we start to get quite competitive against each other. It's nice for the rest of the year to be friends but then this big race day to have the competition between the two of us."

The Aberdeen Boat Race takes place on Saturday, March 2, with the main race beginning at 4.30pm.