I had planned on posting this post a few weeks ago but a lack of being able to be awake prevented me from doing so. I will continue to post photos and video from the tournament over the next little bit.
One thing is for sure, the Australians know how to party on a grand scale. They arrive in style, pound back shots till the music starts, and then they get the dance floor going. On day four they were returning to their hotels well into the morning in preparation for a day of practice.
Most teams have now formed up and it’ll be interesting to see who can adapt to the sand. The pitch is on a flat part of the beach is harder than most everywhere else I’ve played. Parts of the field are harder than concrete and I suspect that layouts into those sections will result in some substitutions from the ocean. Oh yes, we plan on spending most of our sideline time in the ocean. With games starting at 1000 and going into the late afternoon we’ll be baking most of the day.
On Day 3 Vince, Hilco, Patrick, and I decided to partake in a Scuba diving lesson. The Aussies and Mark Scott decided to take a more advanced route and headed off to explore a shipwreck. Scuba diving was one of the best experiences of my life (this island is providing quite a few of those, isn’t it?) and both Vince and I are sure to do it again. Hilco was unable to submerge properly due to a blocked ear from a severe case of being hungover (well into the afternoon) while Patrick opted to snorkel instead. Thanks to Ben Yap (of the Dragons) who hooked us up with inexpensive lessons from Aqualife (beside Casa Pillar).
The afternoon of Day 3 was spent throwing the disc at the pickup game and moving into our new (free) accommodations. Some of us are now at Sea Wind Hotel on a quieter part of the beach and it’s a very pretty location that deserves a look. Day 3 ended with the usual party at Summer Place which resulted in one broken hand and quite a few severely drunk Aussies (well played mates).
My fondest memory of that night involves Cupcake and JD staggering towards Summer Place along the beachfront path barely able to keep their eyes open (due to inebriation) with watermelons in hand. JD sassing the girls offering massages and Cupcake drooling from an inability to do anything except (barely) keep his balance.
All in all a little bit of Ultimate and a whole lot of partying for day 3.
Day 4 was when our teams fully formed up and we were ready to practice. Team New Zealand is a pickup team with players from North America (Canada and the US), Europe (UK and Holland (and Portugal but Patrick is still Dutch)), Asia (Philippines and partially from India (Mark lives there but is American)), and of course New Zealand. From the start it became obvious that we had players with varying degrees of experience from International level players right to beginners that had just started this year. We had work to do and today was a day to gauge our strengths and weaknesses…and party in the sun.
It’s hard to describe a day in the sun where all you do is throw the disc around, jump in the background of photos, sit on the beach while others are practicing, and eat all day…oh wait…I just described it all. The main pitch on the island (for beach Ultimate) is on a flat part of the beach in front of The Beach Bum Bar which is staffed by players from the local teams. The sand at this part of the beach is at a happy medium from the coarser slopping beach to the south and the very flat and hard beach to the north. A mix of hard and soft sand (all of it fine) results in different strategies depending on which end you were attacking; a different experience from Paganello or other beaches around the world that don’t face constant tidal influence day in and out.
The day did provide a bit of competition and highlighted the match-ups in both Open and Mixed that would provide the most excitement: Australia vs Philippines. Playing on their local beach the Dragons were confident from the outset and looking to show that the two years since their last meeting had not gone wasted. The Dragons are very strong and aren’t afraid to show their hand at this early stage. The Aussies still have a few players that haven’t arrived and/or haven’t sobered up sufficiently from a night and morning of drinking. Everybody knows that in Open this will be the finals.
In Mixed the picture is less clear. New Zealand (us) clearly has experience and it will be interesting to see if the team will be able to get things together in time for the finals. The picture is clear enough to see that Australia and Philippines are very likely to meet in the finals and it will be a very closely matched three days.
In both Open and Mixed the Australians have a distinct height advantage while the Dragons have quickness, agility, chemistry, and experience on their side. The Aussies will have a battle on their hands over these next few days.
However, for now, it’s time to party.