Players of all stripes, from Israel, Netherlands, France and Canada, joined their American brothers and sisters in-boules as they met this past weekend, November 11-13, on 68 courts constructed by host Philippe Boets of Petanque America in Fernandina Beach, Florida, to play in the largest petanque tournament in the U.S., the Petanque America Open.
As in past years, Christophe Chambers, familiar to all of us, shouldered what would be a mind boggling task to most of us by skillfully formatting the 136 teams (272 players) into an impeccably run competition of qualifying games, concours, and consolantes.
By Friday morning, the 11th, several sets of clinics were being offered to the steady stream of players arriving, boules in hand.
Many players had enrolled in the advanced clinic conducted by Marco Foyot, "Le Gran Marco", who has won so many competitions in his home country of France and on the international circuit that there is not room to list them, but being on the winning team for the "Marseillaise" 6 times gives a hint of his accomplishments on the court.
FPUSA instructors, Ed Porto, Frank Pipal put on well attended "basics of petanque" clinics, as did Artem Zuev in his "Art of the plombée" offering.
In addition to special motel rates, Philippe had arranged for easy transfer to the tournament venue and a players area at the courts featured food and beverage vendors and a large tent for taking one's meals in the company of fellow players. Everything necessary for the complete petanque experience, competition and camaraderie, was in place. Over an apero, Christophe conducted the draw.
Saturday morning, under clear skies, Philippe's welcome remarks and Christophe's announcements explained all and the tournament was under way.
After a full day of 5 qualifying games, on courts made difficult by a covering of fine fill over thumb sized rocks, players retired to restaurants for a good meal and awaited the next day's slotting of teams into the various levels of the tournament.
Sunday, players crowded the bulletin board to determine into which tournament they were placed as a result of their performance the previous day and then play commenced.
All day teams competed hoping to "end up in the money" and by just after dark on a lighted court the final game produced a winner.
Truly astounding for most spectators were the large numbers of carreaux made by shooters Marco Foyot and Damien Hureau in the final.
Full results will follow in a few days, but here are the top four teams.
1st Place- Marco Foyot (France) and Bernard Martin (Boca 2000 Petanque)
2nd Place- Jean-Pierre Subrenat (New York Petanque) and Damien Hureau (France)
3rd Place- Peter Mathis (Redwood Empire Boules Club) and Antoine Geoffroy (Canada) and Mario Gagné and Ben Gauthier (both Canada) (note: match not played for 3rd & 4th place, both teams received 3rdplace result)
At the awards ceremony that followed at a local restaurant, prizes were awarded to teams finishing in the money and gift certificates contributed by FPUSA totaling $500 were handed out by random draw to teams who otherwise had not won prize money.
Philippe Boets and Diana Jacobs(LAPC) "cut the grass"