Harcourt Park 2013
Harcourt Park, Upper Hutt 16th - 17th February 2013
The 7th Harcourt Park World Invitational Jousting Tournament was held over the weekend 16th -17th February 2013. Without being too clichéd about it, it was our best one ever!
The week prior to the tournament saw the gradual arrival in Upper Hutt of our international competitors and jousters from elsewhere in New Zealand. In the week leading up to the event there is a lot happening including training sessions for all the riders so we can determine the best match ups between the local horses and overseas riders and then give them the time to get used to oneanother.
On Friday the Order of the Boar team swung into action setting up the main display area and horse lines at Harcourt Park. As other re-enactors started to arrive the site quickly took on its usual appearance of a main display area surrounded by stalls and medieval tents. The horses were next to arrive and everybody was keen to get in an afternoon practice session before handing over the display area for the foot combatants and archers to have their practises.
The weather is always a major uncertainty in organising any outdoor event - in particular this event because its costs are only partially funded going into it and we do rely a lot on gate takings from the public. Bad weather would see the organisers being personally liable to meet any shortfall in costs and because we are going this is a breakeven event with no personal payments and any parties, we are always nervous in the weeks leading up to the tournament. However, this year the weather over the weekend was fantastic and people started to arrive in numbers as soom as the gates opened on Saturday morning.
The tournament opened with our mounted skill-at-arms competition where 20 riders negotiated a complex series of exercises that tested their weapon handling and horse handling skills. Our skill-at-arms course is basically a "dressage with weapons" test as many of the movements require some advanced riding skills. The competition was won by John King from Auckland who blitzed the course and picked up a valuable 20 points to get his tilt at the new "Chalice of Courage" trophy off to a flying start. Runners up in second equal place where Rod Walker for Australia and Emily Perrin - a local rider with the Order of the Boar. Rod also got off to a great start by picking up 20 points as the highest scoring rider for the “Grail of Chivalry” competition.
Next up was a foot combat display featuring the new 20-man display team from the Taranaki Medieval Society and 20 other foot combat re-enactors from the other medieval clubs supporting the event. These battle displays are always popular with the public and this year was no exception as all the re-enactors involved had significantly upgraded equipment and skills which previously was at a high level. Following this display was the first day of the archery competition which also is popular with the public.
The first round of jousting for the day followed. This was the "Chalice of Courage" jousting where riders with very little competition experience had the opportunity to start their competitive international jousting careers. There were three jousters in this competition - John King, Emily Perrin and Bryan Ketley for Australia. North Gienow from Canada was also supposed to take part but he was unable to due to a rugby injury. Several of the senior riders from the “Grail of Chivalry” competition made up the numbers in this round by each having one match with one of the three novice riders. While each got off to a good start, midway through the round the stress got the better of Emily and Brian and they were both disqualified for hitting each other low leaving John King as the only competitor remaining in this competition. However, John had to complete the entire competition without being disqualified in order for him to be able to claim the trophy. John had to complete several matches alone against the more experienced riders came through with flying colours. Despite the disqualifications, the jousting was a very high standard overall setting a high expectation of the harder jousting to follow.
But before that happened we had further displays of foot combat and archery including the first of the "Battle of the Nations" competition and a further foot combat battle display. “Battle of the Nations” or “BoN” is a new full contact no-holds barred medieval foot combat competition that evolved in Eastern Europe and has rapidly spread throughout the world. New Zealand is sending a team to this year's main BoN competition in Paris this coming May and at Harcourt Park the team selections were being made. So the fighting was fast and furious and included members of the Australian team had come over in support.
This set the scene well for the first four “Grail of Chivalry” jousters who for the first time anywhere in the world were using new pine lance tips developed by Fred Piraux from Belgium. Up until now, balsa tips had been used in all IJL/IJA style competitions around the world. While these work well and mimic the actual breaking of a full bodied lance well, we have always been at the leading edge of modern sports jousting and wanted a new style of tip that broke harder and also used a renewable timber as opposed to Balsa which is now on an endangered list.
From the first pass the joust was fast and furious with the new tips exceeding expectations. Everybody in this round jousted exceptionally well and the horses ran brilliantly. This was followed by the next pool of “Grail of Chivalry” Jousters who took the field after a break that was filled by another excellent foot combat display and a longbow archery display by Warbows NZ who demonstrated the lethality of the full power English longbow on a series of armoured targets.
As the first day drew to a close, John King headed the “Chalice of Courage” competition as its sole remaining competitor and Rod Walker the “Grail of Chivalry” competition after he had a solid earlier run in the “Skill-at-Arms” and the highest score in the joust. But he was closely followed by a group of other riders including Sarah Hay (Australia), Fred Piraux (Belgium), Anders Fernstedt (Sweden) and Dale Gienow (Canada). The remaining riders – Simon Tennant (New Zealand), Vikki Subritzky (New Zealand) and Andrew McKinnon (Australia) were not too far behind the leading pack but would need to post some big scores on the following day to remain in contention.
After a light shower on Sunday, the popular Mounted Melee was run. This is a battle with swords on horseback where riders have to dislodge a crest on an opponent’s helmet with a blow from a sword to win. Like the Skill-at-Arms it requires a high degree of both weapon handling and sword handling skills but because of the contact nature of the Melee having a confident and dominant horse also helps! This event was a straight elimination where pairs of riders fought each other with the winner advancing to the next found. Unfortunately Rod Walker had to withdraw from this and the entire event due to aggravating a knee injury incurred in the jousting on the previous day after an old knee injury resurfaced after striking one of the wooden barriers with it during the joust. Dale Gienow progressed through to a final with Anders Fernstedt and won – adding an important 20 points to his overall score.
Following this came more foot combat and BoN displays which if anything were even more fast and furious on the previous day. Meanwhile the crowd numbers had swelled to almost full capacity. Sunday for some reason attracts even more people than the Saturday although many people come for both days.
Because of the elimination of Bryan and Emily from the “Chalice of Courage” we had to pull together a new pool of riders for John to joust from the “Grail of Chivalry” pool. We also had a couple of “Grail of Chivalry” matches from the previous day to re-run due to equipment failures. John had to joust against three much more experienced riders without being disqualified to claim the ‘Chalice of Courage” which he did. The other matches were also re-run with the jousting as fast and furious as the day before. We also used the opportunity to test another design of pine tip what broke even harder than the first design so we will be using those at most competitions in New Zealand in the future.
The second day of the archery was run and then we ran the first round of “Grail of Chivalry” for the day. This produced even more displays of hard hitting jousting. Another break in the jousting followed before the final pool of jousting for the weekend. This was filled by further excellent displays of foot combat and Warbows NZ archery.
Meanwhile in the secondary arena in the tent village, other competitions and displays were being held in the octagon arena. These included the Medieval Dagger, Sword and Buckler, Long Sword and ‘Knight School’ competitions being hosted by the Order of the Boar’s Sword Fighting team and the Lower Hutt School of Western Martial Arts. John Flower from Palmerston North won the dagger and the sword and buckler competitions while Samantha Catto-Mott from Wellington won the long sword. Yasmin Chan from Upper Hutt won the inaugural Order of the Boar ‘Knight School’ tournament. The Knight School students are all aged 6 - 13 and train at the Upper Hutt Martial Arts Academy on Saturday mornings.
Finally we came to the final event for the weekend and that was the last found of jousting in the “Grail of Chivalry” tournament. This is always the hardest round on riders, foot crew and horses as it is at the end of a long busy week of training. Several horses had to be retired from this pool and replaced by more experienced horses that had already competed in one of the earlier pools. Despite all this the jousting remained hard and fast and at the end of the pool we could not tell who had won. The NZ BoN team put on a quick display while we calculated the results.
John King had already been assured of his trophy and after rechecking all the scores Dale Gienow from Canada emerged as the winner of the 2013 “Grail of Chivalry” tournament narrowly ahead of three other competitors. Dale’s victory was particularly notable as his arrival in NZ had been delayed by 4 days due to snow storms and his armour lost in transit and which did not arrive until mid-Saturday morning so Dale’s preparation was severely affected.
The mayor of Upper Hutt, Wayne Guppy awarded the prizes. For Fred Piraux this was his last joust in New Zealand as he is retiring from jousting. Because of his massive contribution to jousting as the founder of the International Jousting League he was awarded a special gift by Dane Kingi, a local bone carver. Fred was also competing in the colours of German jouster Ulrich Keiner who died tragically late last year and both Fred’s and Andrew’s IJL points from this tournament have awarded to Ulrich.
As quickly as the event wound down the equipment was packed and the grounds tidied up. The international visitors and local crew had a farewell pizza dinner before everybody headed off either back home or for further days in New Zealand.
For us as the organisers it was a fantastic event. We estimated crowd sizes of 6,000 – 8,000 over the weekend and despite the much harder foot combat and jousting nobody (human or horse) was injured. It takes a lot of time and unpaid effort to organise and run this event and we couldn’t have done it alone. So many thanks to all of our helpers, to our sponsors the Rimutaka Trust and Upper Hutt City Council and to the public who showed up and appreciated our efforts. We plan to run the event again in February 2015.
Assessed from weighted scores (60% joust, 20% melee and 20% mounted skill-at-arms) to give final score over the weekend out of 100:
Chalice of Courage for Novice Jousters – John King (New Zealand)
Grail of Chivalry for Experienced Jousters – Dale Gienow (Canada) with a total score of 89.
Sarah Hay was 2nd overall with 81 points, Anders Fernstedt was 3rd overall with 77 points and Fred Piraux 4th overall with 72 points.
- 1st : John King (NZ) 27.5 points
- 2nd = : Emily Perrin (NZ) 23 points
- 2nd = : Denyse Clifton (NZ) 23 points
- 3rd : Rodney Walker (Australia) 22 points
- 4th : Simon Tennant (NZ) 18.5 points
- 5th : Vikki Subritzky (NZ) 18 points
- 6th : Anders Fernstedt (Sweden) 16.5 points
- 7th : Sarah Hay (Australia) 16 points
- 8th = : Dale Gienow (Canada) 14.5 points
- 8th = : Rhiannon Forbes (NZ) 14.5 points
- 8th = : Fred Piraux (Belgium) 14.5 points
- 9th : Lisa Green (NZ) 12 points
- 10th : Rosemary Hassan (NZ) 11.5 points
- 11th : Brian Ketley (Australia) 11 points
- 12th: North Gienow (Canada) 8.5 points
- 13th : Andrew McKinnon (Australia) 4.5 points
- 1st : Dale Gienow (Canada)
- 2nd = : Anders Fernstedt (Sweden)
- 2nd = : John King (New Zealand)
- 3rd = : Brian Ketley (Australia)
- 3rd = : Rod Walker (Austrlia)
- (Withdrew During Melee Through Injury)
- 4th = : Sarah Hay (Australia)
- 4th = : Simon Tennant (NZ)
- 4th = : Emily Perrin (NZ)
- 4th = : Fred Piraux (Belgium)
Grail of Chivalry Jousters over 2 Rounds
- 1st : Sarah Hay (Australia) 47 points
- 2nd: Dale Gienow (Canada) 43 points
- 3rd: Fred Piraux (Canada) 42 points
- 4th: Anders Fernstedt (Sweden) 36 points
- 5th: Andrew McKinnon (Australia) 34 points
- 6th: Simon Tennant (NZ) 32 points
- 7th: Rod Walker (Australia) 21 points
- (Completed One Round Only)
- 8th: Vikki Subritzky (NZ) 16 points