‘Tossing the Caber’ Too Easy

Braden-Caber-TossOrganisers at this years Pitlochry Highland Games were forced to replace the caber with a heavier pole when complaints were received after last years event. Traditionally only top heavyweight athletes competing in Highland games have the strength and technique to manage to toss a caber. However almost every single burly competitor at last years event were able to flip their 17 foot, 92 lb wooden pole.

This year the competitors had to toss a much heavier 18ft long pole, taken from a spruce tree felled in a Perthshire wood. The object of the caber toss is to flip the pole so that it lands directly opposite the competitor at a ’12 o’clock’ position and not, as is widely believed, simply to throw it the longest distance.

Heavy Events organiser Raymond McIntosh said the old pole presented no challenge. “The local guys from Highland Perthshire found it too easy because their standard has improved dramatically in the last ten years. Pretty much all of them tossed it last year and you don’t want that.”

President of the Highland Games  Association Jim Brown said that while the weight of a caber is important, the length is the essential thing to sort out real caber tossers. “Really strong men who are not caber tossers prefer shorter, heavy cabers because it’s only them who can lift them. But the real caber tossers have tremendous style and speed and get a tremendous lift on the caber. It’s really is an art which is not always amongst the strong men.”

Mr Brown continued: “Cabers also dry out over the years if they are not looked after and lose their weight. A lot of games organisers put their cabers into a burn before the games to soak up the water and make them heavier.

“And a lot of cabers now are redundant telephone poles because they are treated and won’t dry out. A good larch pole is what you require because it’s a hard timber and will remain a caber for a lot more years than spruce which is a softer timber.”


About Nadine Lee

Originally from New Zealand, Nadine is a documentary researcher now based in the north east of Scotland.

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