Records broken at Aboyne Highland Games
Games day may have started with a drizzle on Saturday but as the skies cleared competitors at Aboyne Highland Games displayed record-breaking performances for the cheering crowds who gathered in droves on Aboyne Green.
Eight pipe bands marked the start to the day’s proceedings as they marched through the village and onto the green, before the official raising of the Chieftan flag by Earl of Aboyne, Alistair Aboyne, Deputy Chieftain. Welcoming visitors from near and afar he said that “absence makes the heart grow fonder,” and that certainly appeared evident as 12,500 people flocked through gates to enjoy the return of the games.
A strong field of competitors in the heavy events were once again present at Aboyne. James Dawkins took 1st place in the local events whilst Vlad Tulacek from the Czech Republic held the packed crowds in anticipation throughout the day as he won the most open heavy events and broke the ground record for the 56lb weight over the bar. Previously the record stood at 17ft 2in set in 2015 by Lukasz Wenta but Vlad Tulacek set a new record clearing a height of 17ft 3in.
Vlad also won the open caber event and was given the opportunity to throw the special Aboyne Caber. Measuring over 23ft long and weighing 130lbs, it was introduced in 2017 to the 150th anniversary of Aboyne Highland Games and was dedicated by Her Majesty The Queen. Despite the enthusiastic crowd, he was unable to successfully land the caber, and so that challenge continues for another year.
Elsewhere, Kyle Randalls broke the 22lb heavy hammer record which was set in 2000 by Bruce Aitken. It was 115ft 7.5in and it now stands at 117ft 2in.
Aboyne hosted this year’s Scottish championships for the 56lb weight for distance competition, won by Sinclair Patience while Finlay Murray took first place in the Scottish Championships 800m footrace. In the light athletics events, it was Stewart Clark who leapt and ran to overall victory and was presented with the Ferguson Challenge Trophy.
In the Highland Dancing competitions, a large number of dancers took part across the various age categories. Among those competing were Hamish McInnes and Tristan Wainwright, both of whom had travelled from Australia to compete in the games. Both joined local dancers Rachael Walker and Michelle Gordon in performing a special Highland Reel to mark the 70th anniversary of the Aboyne Dress.
In the hill race, the men’s race was won by Sean Chalmers, whilst first across the line in the ladies race was local, Stephanie Provan.
Calum Brown from Cults, Aberdeen, was overall piping champion with firsts in March, Strathspey and Reel, Hornpipe and Jig. Russell Kostulin was the winner of the Peter Milne trophy in the 16 years and over open fiddle competition for Slow Air, March, Strathspey and Reel.
It was the tug o’ war contest that carried on to the bitter end with Cornhill eventually being crowned champions of the G & A Catto Trophy before the sounds of the beating retreat closed off the 155th Aboyne Highland Games.
Chairman of Aboyne Highland Games Alistair Grant said: “It’s been an absolutely fantastic day from start to finish. The crowds have arrived in force in Aboyne today and there’s been a real sense of community and coming together. We’ve all needed that after the last two years and it’s just been amazing. We’ve thoroughly enjoyed welcoming local and international visitors at the overseas tent and Clan Village.
“Hearing the mass piped bands march onto the green to open the games was a poignant moment for reflection and anticipation. The competitors have demonstrated their best performances throughout the day with more than one record being broken. The huge crowds have been behind them all day, cheering and applauding. It’s been a wonderful sight.”
Founded in 1867 and held annually on the first Saturday in August, Aboyne Highland Games is one of north-east Scotland’s leading traditional events. Featuring a programme of traditional highland games events, including highland dancing, tossing the caber, piping and fiddle competitions, the event on the town’s green attracts visitors from around the world and makes an important contribution to the local Deeside economy.
Further information on Aboyne Highland Games can be found at www.aboynegames.com.