Aarhus University Seal

Ready, set, sail … and drink!

The biggest event organised by students in Scandinavia takes place in the University Park on 3 May, and this is one that international students at AU should definitely

Party committees from various AU departments paddling across the lake in the University Park and drinking beer against the clock, with the winner of this very special Aarhus Boat Race being presented with a golden bedpan. It doesn’t sound like something that would ever attract massive crowds and huge enthusiasm. But it does! And any international students wanting to go home with an indelible impression of a uniquely Danish event should come along to the University Park on 3 May just after midday to join in the fun.
Twelve different AU departments will be paddling their boats and drinking against the clock, hoping to make it to the final round and win the trophy. Christian Emil Møller and Andreas Bugge Tinggaard, who organise the event and are part of the Medicinerhus team, compare the occasion to the Roskilde Festival: “The park is packed with 20,000 people,” says Andreas. “Half the event is about the competition, and half is about socialising.”
The day begins early as people arrive at the park around 7 or 8 in the morning in order to get the best spots, enjoy their breakfast and start drinking. “That’s what it’s all about,” says Andreas. Christian explains that some people even camp out in tents and have a barbeque the night before the race. Before the competition begins, each team makes a grand entrance. Andreas says that the audience gets extremely excited and that the intros, perhaps bigger than the whole race, can get crazy. Christian and Andreas both explain that one year an elephant was used in an introduction. “I get nervous just thinking about it,” says Christian, as he reminisces about last year’s introductions.
Then the competition starts. Each team member begins by drinking a beer as fast as possible, spinning around ten times, and jumping into a boat to paddle across the lake. The teams train for the event for months before the big day. This year, René Holten Poulsen, who won a silver medal in canoeing at the Beijing Olympics, came along to help the teams prepare. “People take this seriously,” says Christian.
They also take their drinking seriously: who can drink a beer faster than anyone else? “We have competitions between ourselves,” says Andreas. He explains that the quickest beer drinker can finish a bottle in 2.2 seconds. “There are lots of different techniques. Some people spin the bottle while they drink it, and people have even broken teeth trying,” adds Christian.
So if you’d like to witness a deeply serious competition featuring huge excitement and thousands of fanatical spectators – plus a generous helping of Danish irony and alcohol culture thrown in for good measure – don’t miss the great event on 3 May. This is a day you will never forget!