30th November/1st December 2002

The H&W Open 2002 welcomed over 450 fencers beginning with 133 in the Men's Epee on Saturday morning. New check-in procedures enabled us to close check-in at 0915 (15 minutes after the scheduled time) and start fencing at 0950. All six competitions used one round of poules and direct elimination for all competitors and we were finished for 1830 on the Saturday and a little earlier on the Sunday thanks to the efficiency of both the control team and fencers in returning fight sheets. Perhaps it had something to do with the bright yellow tee shirts worn by the organisers!

We used Engarde 8 without any serious problems and as in previous years we split the tableaux into 8 or four so that fencers did not have to change pistes for their DE fights until the finals. This allowed each piste to progress at its own rate rather than at the pace of the slowest in each round. Also all epee and foil DE fights were on metal pistes.

We were pleased to see some fencers fresh back from the Commonwealth championships in Australia but across all six competitions we were missing some of our top competitors this year, which accounts for the lower NIF counts.
For various reasons we had fewer visiting foil and epee referees this year (Commonwealth championships, retirement, illness, car accident) but fortunately we just managed by drawing heavily on those who were willing do the job. We had no appeals and the fencing progressed well in a friendly atmosphere. Perhaps it had something to do with the excellent catering by Bob Haywood from Droitwich.

St John's Ambulance were kept awake by the usual mixture of bumps and bruises and one cadet who was taken to hospital following a heavy jab in the ribs when closing distance against a rather larger and heavier opponent. He returned later in the day having been reassured that nothing was broken. He was wearing his under plastron and for the future we understand he has now acquired a breastplate.

Sadly there was a need to exclude one fencer, who was seen throwing his epee high in the air across several pistes just after losing his DE fight.

In both Men's and Women's epee we were pleased to welcome a good entry from the modern pentathles. Sam Weale made his way to the final by a difficult route knocking out Matt Haynes, Steve Lavington, Nic Granjon, Marik Stepien and Rob Gore before loosing to Jon Willis in the final. This is Jon's third major Open win and quite an achievement having just returned from Australia with the individual ME Silver medal. In Women's epee Kate Allenby knocked out fellow pentathlete Sian Lewis in the semi-finals before defeating Jayne Crook in the final to repeat last years success and take the gold.

42 were present in the Women's Sabre which saw close fights in the semi-finals where Robynne Stenner beat Jessica Lacheta 15/14 and Jo Hutchison beat Sarah Ellis 15/13 Jo went on to beat Robynne 12/11 in the final.

Sunday started more quietly with just 67 fencers present. Sam Stockley fought his way past Rob Horton and Tom Jenyon to win. 45 started the women's foil including one visitor from Canada, Martine Charbonneau. Martine received only 4 hits against in the poules and was decisive in winning all her DE fights, so she returns to Canada with the Gold Medal, a Brierley Crystal candlelight and a finalists tee shirt.

The final event of the tournament was Men's Sabre. With 10 pistes available and just 77 were present. poules of 7 and 8 were soon finished and the DE concluded with a final between two cadets in which Alexander O'Connell beat Harry Moncreif.

Clearing up produced a large box of lost property, some of which is now on its way back to the owners. Again the organisers wish to thank all who took part, all who helped set-up and clear up including the formation piste rolling team led by Matt and Shaun, Leon Paul, all referees, volunteers from Shropshire CFU (Yes, if you have been to the Shropshire Open or the English Youth Championships you have seen Ismay, John and Janet before), extra computers and know-how from Allen, Simon A, Simon W, Edith and Alex at check-in, the Staff of Thorns, Rick Bailey for the use of the PA system including Dave, Pat and Simon for setting it up, Dave for organising the yellow tee shirts and Thomas Vale Construction for sponsoring prizes which this year included Leon Paul socks for all best Cadets and best Juniors.

Feedback on any aspect of the event and suggestions for improvement are requested and should be sent to John Haynes.