October 30, 2009

Pétanque jugglers

Arsène Dupin and his artist friends had a couple of hours to kill last week between performances at the Texas Renaissance Festival. So they played 3 hours of pétanque and then showed off their juggling skills. Among others Clan Tynker and Flourish & Fool.

Unfortunately Arsène cannot make it to the Open due to commitments at the Festival until November 29... We'll miss him!

But two excellent teams from Austin will represent Heart of Texas pétanque: Jeanne & Drew and Amine & Saïd.

Canadian champions coming!

Serious heavyweights are coming in from Canada:

Mario Latour was part of the Canadian national team in 2003 and this year again. Three times vice-champion in the shooting contest, plus a number of national awards.

Alain Brunette was Canadian champion in the 2009 shooting contest, part of Mario's national team in 2003, and with others in 2005 & 2008.

Mario and Alain will team up in Amelia Island.

Then there's also Pascal Héneault, Yves Chenette (who many know from his days in Chicago), and a series of top players we all know very well, because they often play in South Florida: Roger Arpaia w/ Claude Laulhé and Ben Gauthier w/ Claude Lopez.
Laurent Mirabeau from Ottawa is still looking for a partner but already has his ticket.
I hope I didn't forget anyone!

There is no doubt that there has never been a pétanque contest of this high a level in the history of pétanque in the USA.

October 26, 2009

The predecessor of pétanque

There's not much footage of "boule Provençale" or "la longue" (the long one) available online.
A TV station in Draguignan (due North of St Tropez) just uploaded a report on local competitions. It is still popular in certain towns in SE France.
Pointers must take one step (one only), and then throw with either both feet on the ground or one in the air. Shooters on the other hand must take 3 steps before aiming for an opponent ball.
It's spectacular and not easy at all. Look at 1:40!
No wonder Jules le Noir asked his buddies in 1907 to shorten the distance and do away with the fancy footwork. In so doing, everyone would be - literally - on equal footing. He, sitting in his chair with his feet on the ground. The others standing (or squatting) with both feet on the ground.
It suddenly made the game much more inclusive as to age, strength, and gender.
And so pétanque ("feet anchored") was born....

October 24, 2009

Ladies at the Open

So pleased to note that 1 out of 4 players (around 40) will be ladies.
From Erin McTaggart who's flying in from Sonoma CA to Isabelle Rakotoarvielo, arriving from Madagascar.
Some have played the game all their life, like Gisèle Lich from Hopewell VA and Josse Krauer from San Francisco, who both grew up in France. Others, such as Shirley Jones from Lexington NC or Nancy Banks from Tallahassee FL picked it up in recent years, but are as 'gung ho' as anyone else.

Unfortunately we'll miss the US National Women's team that will defend our colors in Thailand that very same weekend. But we'll cheer them on from here!

Read FPUSA's summer newsletter: Women players in the USA

Traditionally in France, the guys play all day, and then go home for dinner. In the US, guys & gals play together, and then go out for dinner ;-)
But - as I posted in 2005 - things are changing!

October 21, 2009

"Just drop it." - " Where ???"

A sitcom writer could not come up with a more implausible story.
On Wednesday morning, David had this gorgeous court - compacted and all.

To make sure it would fit nicely into the surrounding lawn, he ordered a truckload of soil, and grass sods. The pétanque court would look like it had been there forever.

"Drop the dirt around the new sand area" was the message. Loud & clear.
The truck driver was either deaf, blind, or both - but this was the result this afternoon:

Smack on top of... the pétanque court. It was so unbelievable, they all cracked up.
Many hours later, David, Bryan, Jason & Co were still shuffling dirt.
Actually - I felt so bad about the whole story - I went to help them.

More to come!

Lots of boules!

Around 18,000 lbs of boules arrived yesterday, to be ready for the year-end season.

It was a nice surprise to see them roll up in a blue "Delmas" container. Many moons ago, when I was working in the shipping business in Antwerp, "Delmas-Vieljeux" - now part of the CMA-CGM Group - was a household name.

To ascertain that our warehouse doesn't look like a boring place, we unpacked some of the Ricard decoration that we will use for the Open tournament.

La Boule Dawgs beat French Consulate

Athens, Georgia - report from Paul Kos:

Yesterday, October 18, we had a great tournament in Athens, GA, between teams hosted by the French Consulate of Atlanta with Etienne Abobi and Connie Lewis as their organizers and our La Boule Dawgs of the Lamar Dodd School of Art at the University of Georgia. The French brought French cuisine and the Athenians had Southern style cooking. We played at our off campus court at 585 Barber Street in Athens. 48 players competed in triplette. La Boule Dawgs came in first with the French in second place.

The two final teams:
The last round on YouTube

There will be 2 "Boule Dawgs" teams in Amelia Island next month!

October 18, 2009

Amelia Island weather in November

Several people have asked me what to expect in mid-November.
First off: we have a lot of balls in our warehouse, but none of them are crystal ;-)

This weekend was uncommonly chilly and dry, but so is the entire South.

Click on the image for historical averages. You can find more data here.

I think it is safe to say:
T-shirt & shorts should be OK during the day, but definitely have a sweater or jacket handy at all times. Being close to the waterfront, some breeze is a given.
At night and early morning: an extra layer.

October 17, 2009

First home court on Amelia Island

David, one of the very first people I met in Fernandina Beach, and now a dear friend, has been fascinated by this odd game from day one.
Very competitive - an avid golfer and bowler - he's been asking questions and trying it out on the beach for months.
Yesterday his son Bryan called me: "Stop by the house, Dad has a surprise!".

David and Jason, one of his neighbors, were fighting it out when I arrived.
Believe me, I have seldom seen such precision at a "beginner" level.
When Jason told me he's been a baseball pitcher for 13 years, I understood.

With a small truckload of crushed limestone, treated 2 x 6's and stakes, a shovel and a rake, they'd set up the court in a matter of hours.
Today they're going to compact it and it will be perfect.

October 14, 2009

PA Open registration closed

"That's all, folks!" - as Porky the Pig would say.
In this case it is ..... the shrimp (yet to be named) who says we have to call it a day.
80 teams (160 players) is a nice number, and manageable for a smooth 2-day tournament.
After a sudden surge in registrations, including several from Canada, we're closing the sign-up.

In recent days there's been a lot of interest from people in Amelia Island and surroundings. We will (a) make sure there's ample space for the public to play pick-up games around the tournament area, and (b) provide spots in the 'consolante' tournament on Sunday.

Who'd have thought so many people want to play pétanque in a nice place?

October 13, 2009

Atlanta Falcons trying out pétanque

A delegation of the Falcons visited Park Springs community in Stone Mountain last week.
And ended up on the beautiful pétanque court for a lesson by the residents.

I recognize my friend Stephanie - the charming 92-year old lady who kicked my butt in May - explaining the game to Thomas DeCoud!

Park Springs welcomes Pro Football Players

October 10, 2009

Who plays pétanque?

Earlier this year, I wrote about the eclectic mix of professions you encounter at pétanque games.

Looking at the list of players that are coming to the Open, one trade definitely sticks out: chefs. And not just any chefs!
Jacques Pépin, Michel Nischan, and Jean Banchet are some of the names that sounded extremely familiar. We're honored that they're taking time out from their busy schedule to join in.

Apart from the fact that gourmet food and France - the birthplace of pétanque - go hand in hand, what makes pétanque so appealing to them?

Suppose you have an hour to kill between lunch and dinner. That's not enough time to get to a tennis court or - even less so - to a golf course. Not even worth getting in your car to drive anywhere. But plenty of time to pick up a set of boules and play a couple rounds of pétanque with your colleagues in the backyard behind the kitchen.

The same goes for people in the movie industry, whose schedule often looks like gruyère cheese. They have to wait hours for the next shoot, but must to stay on location. A quick game of pétanque between the RV's does the trick.

In both cases, when duty calls, it is easy to stop the game after a round, just remember the score and pick it back up where you left off.

Except in the old days in France, when movie producers had to wait for the actors to finish their games...

October 7, 2009

Claudy Weibel coming to Florida!

If ever the saying "Friendship knows no borders" applied - it did this week.

Xavier Thibaud, who was at the Petanque America Open in Miami in 2005, and who won the New York Open this past weekend with teammate Jean-Pierre Subrenat, had been talking to his friend Claudy Weibel for a while. "Why don't you come and see what pétanque is like in the USA?"

They've known each other for almost twenty years, from the days Xavier was living in Brussels, Belgium, and have kept in touch ever since. Meanwhile Claudy was part of the Belgian winning team (World Championships in Faro, Portugal - 2000) and just this summer became European Champion in precision shooting in Nice, France.

And Claudy said - "Why not?". He has never visited the US and is one of those players who love the game for its friendly atmosphere just as much as for the merely competitive angle.

Will the Weibel / Thibaud team be a juggernaut at the Open? Not necessarily. Remember there is always a luck factor in petanque. A little stone here, an unexpected groove in the terrain there. And there are quite a few other teams that have made tremendous progress lately.
One thing is certain: players and the public alike will see live shots that most pétanque players can only witness on YouTube.

Here's one such example. A shooting competition in 2000 between Claudy Weibel (in the blue shirt) and Philippe Quintais (considered one of the top 3 players in the world). This was a side event where players must perform intricate individual shots, at increasing distances. Call it "Ringers on your own". Look at the slow motion replays.

We'll make sure Claudy has a great time in Amelia Island and gets to meet as many folks as possible. I hear he's also an expert at pool. Maybe we'll spot him at the Hammerhead as well!

Petanque at the Palace

Not any 'royal' Palace, but the Palace Saloon, Florida's oldest continuously operated 'drinking establishment' - since 1903.

It will be the locale for some of our get-togethers during the tournament weekend, and since it has a nice backyard we are setting up a play area right there. Enough for two games to go on at the same time and thus an ideal training place - from now till Nov 14 - for the Amelia Island teams!

How fitting: the Palace was "born" in 1903, the game of pétanque in 1907. Both close to the waterfront, in a fishing village.

October 5, 2009

The perfect ice breaker

A group of Parisians who have lived abroad, and non-Parisians living there, came up with a way to meet and get to know each other.
What better way than some pétanque games in front of the Eiffel Tower?

Mix up everyone and let them play (ànd talk, ànd have a drink) together. The new group has been a success.

Social network breaks the ice in Paris

October 3, 2009

Boules & bikes ...

Chris & his bike friends in Annapolis MD have started monthly petanque meets on Fridays. And having fun.

By the way, Chris sells a range of bike bags that come in handy if you go to the courts by bike. If a baguette can fit, 3 boules should fit as well ;-)

Palm Desert Open

La Boule du Désert welcomes everyone on Sun October 25.

On the brand new petanque field at Palm Desert Civic Center Park.

Teams of 3 players.

More details & registration