The Jousting Life

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Jarek Struczynski Wins the "Tournament of the Phoenix 2013"

Editor's Note: My deepest apologies for the lateness of this article, and my sincere thanks to everyone who provided information/pictures for it. They were prompt in delivering their help; I was late in delivering the article. My life was a bit complicated for a while.

This year's annual "Tournament of the Phoenix" was held the weekend of October 18-20 near San Diego, California, USA. The jousting competition included six competitors from five different countries: Jezz Smith of New Zealand, Wouter Nicolai of the Netherlands, Jan Gradon of Poland, Jarek Struczynski of Poland, Jeffrey Hedgecock of USA and (as a last minute replacement for the injured David Young of USA) Marc Hamel of Canada. In addition to the tilting(what most people think of as the actual jousting) competition, there were also a mounted melee and pole axe duels as part of the overall tournament competition.


Jarek Struczynski, Tournament Champion(photo by Clarence Alford Photography)

Polish jouster Jarek Struczynski earned the title of tournament champion, just beating his fellow Pole Jan Gradon by three points. Here is what Jan had to say about the tournament:
"I was invited to the TotP["Tournament of the Phoenix"] for the second time. I won the tournament back in 2011, and was very happy to come back together with Jarek Struczynski. I was really looking forward to jousting there as I really enjoyed the joust in 2011. I knew I was going to ride again on Petrus who is a great horse. I knew all the competitors except David Young, whom I never jousted before. Unfortunately, he damaged his hand prior the event and couldn't compete. Marcus Hamel, who was to be the Knight of Mercy stepped in.

Prior the tournament, we had a great time in California. We rode a cowboy trail with Chad Waldhauser, who also provided horses for the TotP, had some roping practice, and did a trail in Grasslands preserve. We also did some kayaking in the ocean, and organized probably the first kayaking joust ever.

Left to right: Jezz Smith, Wouter Nicolai, Jan Gradon and Jarek Struczynski - kayak jousting
(photo by Leslie Chappell Britt)
The competition at the TotP was very fierce, with many hard hits. For most of us, the weather was the challenge, as most of the Competitors came from much colder weather. For me, the foot combat was the most tiring event. After having fought 3 duels. I couldn't continue as I couldn't catch my breath, and this is when Marcus Hamel became my champion and fought my last duel and won for me. I'm very happy, that through the whole tournament, me and Jarek were very close in points and ended up on 1st and 2nd place. Of course I hoped to win the TotP, as it would be the first time that someone got the Phoenix prize twice, but still I'm very happy with Jarek's victory as he deserved it." – Jan Gradon


Jarek Struczynski(left) and Marc Hamel(right) joust(photo by J. Javier Camacho)


Jan Gradon(left) and Jezz Smith(right) jousting(photo by Brad Holderman)

More photos of the tilting by J. Javier Camacho(click to embiggen):



Photos of the tilting by Brad Holderman(click to embiggen):




During the course of the tournament, Marc Hamel, who had originally traveled to the event with the intention of being the non-competitive Knight of Mercy, ended up competing in the place of several jousters in both the tilt and the Pole Axe duels. Marc was already in California when David Young notified TotP that he was not going to be able to compete due to an injured hand. Marc had not brought his own distinctive armour, but was willing to compete in David's place if a suit of armour could be found to fit him. Fortunately, one of Jeffrey Hedgecock's old sets of armour fit Marc quite well, so he was able to step in and take David's place as a competitor.


Marc Hamel in Jeffrey Hedgecock's old jousting armour and shield(photo by Brad Holderman)

Later, during the pole axe combat, he not only fought his own/David's duels, he also stepped in to fight in place of Jan Gradon and Jezz Smith when they were unable to continue. Marc tied for first place in the pole axe competition with Jarek Struczynski and Jan Gradon(Marc obviously did a good job as Jan's champion).


Jarek Struczynski(left) and Marc Hamel(right) in a pole axe duel(photo by J. Javier Camacho)

More pictures of the pole axe duels by J. Javier Camacho(click to embiggen):




Here is what Marc Hamel had to say about the tournament:
“It was a great tournament. David Young let me ride his horse Hardy in his place, and the first session was excellent. We went for the poleaxe session – I was trying to forget that famous hit in the face that I received last year. I made all my 4 duels plus 2 others for Jan Gradon and Jezz Smith (they were too exhausted). Let's just say that I didn't rest much.

The second session of jousting was more tough. Jarek and I hit on each other like trains, and I injured my hand seriously and had to withdraw for the remainder of the session. The second day was good as well. Jarek and Jan were at the top of their game. As for me, I couldn't break my lances with efficiency, but I kept going because I could still provide a good target for my opponents.

A lance shatters against Marc Hamel's ecranche during the joust(photo by J. Javier Camacho)
I want to raise my lance for Wouter Nicolai. On the scoring board he may have finished last, but he rode a horse who was not easy to ride and never took any chances to break his lances unless it was perfect. I think of him as an excellent technician, with a great sense of honor, with clean runs every time. Jarek won the tournament with grace and humility, and I hope to be like him one day.” – Marc Hamel

Based on his honourable behavior throughout the tournament, Wouter Nicolai of the Netherlands was chosen to receive the Chivalry Award for 2013.


Wouter Nicolai, Chivalry Award(photo by Clarence Alford Photography)

Here is what Wouter had to say about the tournament and winning the Award of Chivalry:
"Participating at "The Tournament of the Phoenix" was a very good experience. I found it both a fun and a high quality event. I found it very difficult to adjust my riding style to a western horse(Spot). Despite my problems riding Spot, I found him an exceptionally good horse for jousting and melee. He is brave and responds well. While I enjoy doing jousting competitions, I am not really a competitive jouster. The reason that I joust is because I like the history of the tournament. I try to get as close as possible to experience a 15th century tournament. This makes the Chivalry Award for me personally the most significant prize. I am greatly honoured to be chosen to receive it." – Wouter Nicolai

As part of the overall tournament competition, there was also a mounted melee which was fought using wooden clubs. Jeffrey Hedgecock earned the most points during the mounted melee.


Jarek Struczynski(left) and Jeffrey Hedgecock(right) exchange blows during the mounted melee
(photo by Brad Holderman)

More pictures of the mounted melee by Brad Holderman and J. Javier Camacho(click to embiggen):






A short video of the mounted melee:

Tournament of the Phoenix 2013: Mounted Melee(video from the Tournament of the Phoenix Facebook page)


The final scores of "The Tournament of the Phoenix 2013"
(photo from the Tournament of the Phoenix Facebook page)


The jousters of "The Tournament of the Phoenix 2013"
Left to Right: Wouter Nicolai, Jezz Smith, Jan Gradon, Jarek Struczynski, Jeffrey Hedgecock and Marc Hamel (photo by Brad Holderman)

In addition to the six jousters who competed in the main jousting tournament, there were six other competitors who participated in a Mounted Skill at Arms competition. Joel Hill of USA won the MSA competition.


Joel Hill stabs the "pig" during the MSA competition(photo by J. Javier Camacho)

Here is what Joel Hill had to say about the Mounted Skill at Arms competition:
"The competitors[main jousters] did not participate but rather acted as our mentors, gave us advice and cheered for us. Ann Schilling was the only competitor to hit the boar with the crossbow which was a big accomplishment." – Joel Hill


Ann Shilling during the MSA competition(photo by Brad Holderman)


The final scores of the MSA competition
(photo from the Tournament of the Phoenix Facebook page)

You can see more pictures from the tournament in the Tournament of the Phoenix 2013 album in Brad Holderman's Flickr account.

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