I don’t mean those things that happen spontaneously whenever university students and alcoholic beverages are gathered together. No, I’m talking about properly convened formal events with trophies and prizes. Events with scrutineers, timekeepers, electronic timing devices, assorted other officials and competitors in different categories. The beverage being consumed was beer, generally DB draught delivered for the occasion by mini tankers from the Fitzherbert Tavern.
A consequence of the outcome of the annual event was the selection of a team to represent Massey at the Winter Tournament. The Tourney, as it was known, also involved proper sports, like hockey, rugby, netball and so on. It was hosted on rotation by each of New Zealand’s universities. Successful participation would result in a University Blue being awarded. I’m not sure if Blues were awarded for drinking, but I wouldn’t be surprised. The world was a bit different back then, particularly society’s attitudes towards the consumption of ale.
Some drinkers had specialist events. Some participated in all that were on offer. For the benefit of any teetotallers who may be reading this, I should note that beer is not a performance enhancing drug, so things generally tended to get a bit untidy as the day unfolded.
The “guns” were generally exponents of the single glass events, the 7 and 11 ounce categories. There were specialist jug and yard drinkers who would usually wait for their event to roll along before they started drinking. Others were less disciplined. A goodly sized crowd could be relied on to offer encouragement to the day’s participants.
Precision and exactitude were also hallmarks of the day’s events. It was, after all, a competition.
A filled glass of ale was placed on an electronic trigger. Removing the glass would activate an electronic timer. Putting it back again would stop it. A 7-ounce exponent would need to down the contents of their glass in less than 0.3 of a second if they wanted to be competitive. Jugs were about the 4 second mark. Spillage was carefully monitored, with disqualifications handed out if this exceeded 5%.
The starter’s orders generally went something like: “Ready”, “Gentlemen (or ladies), blow your froth”, and “Go”.
There were heats and finals for each event. Contestants could compete in multiple events, and many did. There were mens’ and womens’ sections.
There were even team events – Boat Racing, as it was known. Twos, fours and eights. Seven ounce glasses were consumed consecutively by each team member. The fastest team won, spillage considerations notwithstanding.
The day’s proceedings concluded with what was known as the Chunder Mile. The event was broken into quarters, each requiring the consumption of a measure of ale and a cold pie. Yes, gentle readers, the objective was to complete the course in the fastest time with, as the event’s name suggested, mandatory regurgitation. At least one Technicolor Yawn™ required per competitor. Few starters were sober by this stage of the day.
Once all of the official proceedings were completed and prizes awarded, it was time for the after-match festivities and a bit of cleaning up for the organisers.
I understand that today’s tertiary students are motivated solely by academic success and minimising their student loan debt levels. Bless them.