The Scottish Heavy Events are composed of eight separate events that test both strength and power. Events include the Sheaf Toss, Caber Toss, Stone Put, Hammer Throw, Light Weight Throw, Heavy Weight Throw, Weight for Height, and Weight for Distance.
- Competitor Biographies
The Sheaf Toss
The sheaf toss has been a traditional event in the highland games for many years. Competitors hurl a 16-pound (7 kg) burlap bag stuffed with straw over a horizontal bar above their head. Each competitor has three chances are given to go over the bar, without touching it. After all challengers have made their attempts, the bar is raised with successful competitors moving on to the next height until all, but one athlete is eliminated.
The caber toss is a traditional Antigonish Highland Games Heavy Event. Competitors toss a large tapered pole called a “caber”, usually a Larch (juniper) tree approximately 19 feet 6 inches (5.94 m) tall and weighs 175 pounds (79 kg). “Caber” derives from the Gaelic caber, referring to a wooden beam.
The competitor who tosses the caber closest to 12 o’clock is the victor. The caber goes end over end, straight ahead or “12 o’clock” the tosser. Distance thrown is unimportant.
The origin of this sport is said to have come from the need to ford a stream where a log was tossed across the water.
Many times, an invading army or scurrying marauders found the need to proceed or escape over a waterway. The Marquis of Montrose wished he could have had a few good caber tossers in his last battle. It quite possibly would not have been his last battle.
The stone put is one of the main heavy events at modern gatherings. An ordinary farmer’s field stone of varying weight, usually 16 to 26 pounds depending on whether the event is using Braemar or Open stone.
The hammer throw features a “hammer” which is a metal ball attached by a steel wire to a grip. The hammer size or weight is 16 pounds, measuring 3 feet 11 3⁄4 inches or 121.3 cm in length. Competitors throwing motion usually sees two swings of the hammer to get it started from a stationary position, then the athlete rotates their body three, possibly four times rocking on a heel-toe movement of the foot. The hammer gradually increases in velocity with the thrower releasing the hammer from the front of the circle using their judgement of speed to achieve the greatest distance.
In Scottish styled games, there are two separate weight throw events, the light and the heavy weight. In either event the weight is attached by a short chain to a metal handle. The light weight is 28 pounds, or two stone (12.7 kg). The heavy weight is 56 lb, or four stone (25.4 kg). The technique sees an athlete throw the weight one-handed from inside a rectangular area usually 4.5 feet by 9 feet from behind a fixed positioned toe board.
The athlete must stay behind the board to have their throw count. While athletes may vary their technique it usually involves a turning motion for momentum then the excruciating “grunt” before the power release. Each athlete is permitted three attempts. Distance places determined by the best throw.
The weight for height will have a competitor throw a one-handed weight over a bar set at increasing heights above the thrower. The athlete is permitted three attempts for each successive height. Places are determined by maximum height reached with the fewest misses.
The size of the weight is usually a 56 pound or 25 kg weight. The technique developed by athletes to develop speed for height involves a swing of the weight between the legs then the swift uplift with momentum before pulling the weight up and directly overhead and over the bar.
The Tug-of-war competition was reintroduced to the Antigonish Highland Games in 2005 and has rapidly become one of the most highly spectated and thrilling events. Traditionally, this event has been showcased at Maritime Agricultural Exhibitions. Teams are assembled in the fall to compete after planting and before harvest. With the Games in early July, it is a challenge to land sufficient competitive teams. Each year we start early, promote our competition and offer an exciting stage to host competitors.