World Caber Championships
We are delighted that this year Inveraray is again hosting the World Caber Championships, kindly sponsored by the George Hotel, Inveraray. This is a highly prestigious event in the Games calendar and attracts the highest calibre of athletes from all over the world – as far afield as Australia, USA, Canada, etc – not forgetting our own home grown talent.
The winner is presented with the Scottish Highland Games Association Medal. It is a true test of skill and physical prowess as the caber at the World Championships is one of the biggest, if not the biggest on the circuit, measuring over 20 feet and weighing in at over 140lbs.
The caber is scored for accuracy as though the thrower is facing the 12:00 position on a clock face. A judge behind the thrower calls how close to the 12:00 position the small end of the caber lands, 12:00 being a perfect toss.
Putting the Shot or Stone
By tradition a smooth, round stone from the riverbed is used, weighing approx. 16lbs.
The stone, and now also a cast ball or shot, is putted from behind a straight stick 4’6’’ long and 6’ high called a trig. The throw is measured from the centre of the trig to the first mark made by the stone. The stone being used today is from the River Aray.
Weight for Distance
The weight is a ball and chain with a handle on the end weighing 28lbs or 56lbs. Nine feet is allowed for stepping back. The thrower stands facing the trig, swings the weight to the side and then round behind him. On the third pivot the thrower heaves the weight round and throws it as far as he can.
The Scots Hammer had a wooden shaft and developed from throwing the blacksmith’s hammer or farm mallet. Today’s hammer with its round head and whippy shaft was developed because the standard hammer broke so easily. Today the shaft of the hammer is made from Molakin cane. The thrower stands with his back to the trig and digs in with the aid of two 6’’ spikes which protrude from the front of his boots. The shaft is grasped firmly with hands made sticky with resin. He then swings the hammer round his head 3-4 times and lets go.
Weight over the Bar
This weighs 56lbs and is thrown over a bar. Three attempts are allowed at each height and failure to clear leads to elimination. The competitor stands underneath the bar, picks up the weight with one hand, swings it between his legs and then heaves it up and over the bar – hoping the weight misses him on the way down!
Track & Field Events
The rules of Scottish Backhold wrestling are simple and easy to understand, the opponents shake hands, when they do this the referee checks his watch as only thirty seconds are permitted to take a hold. Once both wrestlers have joined hands the referee shouts ’’hold’’ and the bout commences. Should any wrestler break his hold, he loses that fall, and in any case the first to touch the ground loses. If both land together it is called a ‘’dog fall’’ and they start again.
Bouts are either best of three or best of five falls, but finals are always best of five. Some historians think that the reason why the right arm is always placed under the left is because in an ancient battle if a man swung a sword or axe at you and missed, the defender would trap his sword arm, trip him then finish him off on the ground. Nowadays much is said about Oriental ‘martial arts’ which are often not very practical, but Backhold was one of the martial arts of the Vikings and in its day a very necessary skill to help ensure survival on the battlefield.
Rob Roy MacGregor was not only a skilled swordsman who had won many duels, he was also a formidable wrestler. Often after he has sold his cattle at a Tryst, he would have a few drams in a local howff, then celebrate his sale by challenging anyone to wrestle, and there was always someone bold enough to accept his challenge.
The competitors at highland gatherings are usually very aware of the traditions and history of their sports. They also know that the modern Olympic Games were inspired by the sporting events and ideals which were exported from Scotland during the 18th and 19th centuries; wherever we Scots travelled we took our ancient sporting customs with us.
90 Metre Race
200 Metre Race
400 Metre Race
1600 Metre Race
3200 Metre Race
800 Metre Race – Handicap
1600 Metre Race – Handicap
3200 Metre Race – Handicap
De’il Tak the Hindmost