By Philipp Reimer von Wolfenbüttel
Rapier activities have started off strong at Pennsic 43 breaking the ice with the Early Bird Tournament on Thursday of Peace Week, and serving up a dose of good old-fashioned chivalry with the Bouquet Tourney Friday. But there's plenty of swashbuckling excitement yet to come as War Week unfolds. Check out the highlights.
Saturday began with a bang, with the Battle of La Rochelle, an SCA-style recreation of King Louis XIII's epic stronghold siege, complete with breeching charge, cannon, and hopelessly outnumbered defenders. Two heated battles featuring dozens of participants per side ensued. The first team of attackers swept the contest, clearing the embattled defenders in under 15 minutes, which was less than half the time it took their opponents to achieve victory when the roles were reversed. One notable moment of the La Rochelle scenario occurred when Friar Jacob of the East Kingdom attempted to blow the gates of La Rochelle, not with the time-tested petard, but with the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch. His attempt was cut short when a gunner on the bastion overhead shot the legendary explosive, killing all nearby and blasting open the gates of the fortification. The Battle of La Rochelle ended with a White Scarves/Bronze Rings/Golden Rapier vs all others round, in which the terminal-level-award fencers held the fortress for an impressive 10 minutes.
The contest over rapier war points kicks off in earnest on Sunday at 2:30 pm, with the Rapier Champions Battle. The format for this year's Rapier Champions Battle includes a combination of constrained melees and singles matches as well as Cut and Thrust. This best-of-the-best lineup is sure to be the rapier spectator's sport of the year. The rest of the fencing community will join in the fun throughout the week, participating in the three remaining war point melees. These include the Rapier Field Battle on Monday, the Rapier Woods Battle on Tuesday, and the Rapier Broken Field Battle on Thursday.
For those interested in tournament play, there's plenty to look forward to in the week ahead. The Tuesday morning Ansteorran Rapier Tourney always draws many of the Known World's top fencers onto the list, and the combination of a sumptuous brunch spread and the atmosphere created by Her Majesty Ansteorra and company are truly exceptional. Another perennial favorite is the Atlantian 5-Man Melee Tournament, which draws together the competitive thrill of a round-robin tourney and the collaborative teamwork of melee. Friday wraps up Pennsic rapier activities with the midmorning GreyBeard Tourney, a wonderful opportunity for the younger generations to see lifetime practitioners of the art of defense at their finest.
Additional rapier activities to look out for at Pennsic 43 include Atlantia's Thugs for Jugs Tournament on Monday, which raises money for breast cancer awareness and research. There will also be a two-hander tourney in honor of the late Don Edmond the Lame on Wednesday, followed by a brief memorial service. Other themed and specialized activities include both the Pennsic and the Known World Ladies' Championship Tournaments, a Novice Tourney, youth competitions, and special opportunities for those interested in the study of historical fencing. In short, there's plenty to keep fencers of all skill levels and interests busy.