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Official rules governing Scottish Highland Games in North America
as approved by the Scottish American Athletic Association (SAAA)

Tossing the Caber - A Technical Description...

There is no standard size or weight of a caber, but the caber should be of length and weight beyond the powers of all but the best athletes to turn. The caber is to be made only of wood. It is recommended that a back judge and a side judge be used. The caber shall be placed upright by the stewards in balance, with the heavy end uppermost, ready for the athlete to make their attempt. As soon as the athlete receives the caber and the stewards stand clear, the attempt commences. The judge may set boundaries if he feels the ground in a certain area is not suitable for the caber to be tossed. Safety should be of concern and the caber should not be too close to the spectators at anytime during the toss. The athlete may take any length of run they wish and may toss the caber from where they choose, as long as it is within the judges boundaries. If the athlete allows the caber to fall before lifting it off the ground, this shall count as one of their attempts. If the athlete drops the small end of the caber back to the ground after having picked it up, this shall also count as one of their attempts. Where the ground is uneven a mark should be made from near which, and not beyond which, the toss shall be made. On no account should a fixed trig or stance be used. The caber must pass through the vertical position in order to count as a turned caber. The vertical position is 90 degrees and it is up to the side judge to determine if the caber has passed through it. The "clock face method' of judging shall be used. The caber in a perfect toss will pass through the vertical position and land with the small end pointing directly at 12 o'clock in an imaginary straight line extending from the athlete through the initial landing point and in line with the direction of the run.
An overhead view is drawn below to demonstrate a 12 o'clock toss.

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A valid throw is when the small end of the caber passes through the vertical position and falls away from the athlete to land within the 180 degree radius between 9 o'clock and 3 o'clock. An overhead view is drawn below to demonstrate some turned cabers and how to score them.

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The direction of run is determined by the path taken once the athlete is deemed, by the judge, to be in control of the caber. The athlete may run in one direction and then stop and change direction, as long as they maintain control of the caber. If the caber lands in a 12 o'clock position pointing away from the athlete but not in a direct line with their run, then the judges must determine the athlete's original direction of run and establish where a true 12 o'clock toss would be. He must then give an appropriate judgment based on the amount of deviation from the line and the amount of control demonstrated. At the discretion of the judge the athlete may be assessed up to a 1 hour penalty.

If the caber is not turned by the athlete, then it is the responsibility of the side judge to determine the angle at which the caber was tossed with respect to the 90 degree vertical. The side judge should be perpendicular to the athlete's line of approach in order to make an accurate call. A picture of a view from the side judge's position is shown below.

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Each athlete is allowed three attempts, the best of these to count in the determination of his/her placement in the competition. The CABER must pass through the vertical position in order to count as a turn. The order of placing shall be determined by the nearest to 12 o'clock toss made by an athlete. If the athlete did not turn the CABER, then placing shall be determined by the toss closest to the 90 degree vertical. In the event of a tie, the place shall be determined by the next best turn or turns. If this does not produce a first place winner one additional attempt by the tied athletes shall be made. If a winner is not determined by this additional attempt, then the event shall be declared a tie. Ties for places other than first not broken by the next best attempt shall be declared a tie. If after one completed round the CABER has not been turned by any athlete and the judge agrees, the CABER may be cut or substituted. The CABER shall be cut from the large end and the amount to be determined by the judge. This process can be repeated until the CABER has been turned. If the CABER breaks during the competition, then the placing is determined by the completed round or rounds. If another CABER of equal size and difficulty is available, then all three rounds of the broken CABER are not considered in the placing. When a qualifying CABER is used then any successful turn qualifies the athlete for the next CABER.

View an Animation of Tossing a Caber