Pétanque and Ricard Have a Long History

Interview with Clémence Natta - Ricard

Interview with Clémence Natta - Ricard

With the arrival of Pétanque in North East Florida, we also welcomed Ricard, France’s favorite long drink. For most Americans an unknown, and for others an acquired taste, Ricard was founded in 1932 by Paul Ricard. The unique taste of the liqueur is created from star anise, a rare herb from the furthermost reaches of Southern China and Vietnam, Syrian liquorice root and aromatic plants from the Provence area in France, also the birthplace of Pétanque. This original recipe – guaranteed all natural and with some accredited medicinal properties, is a closely guarded secret and has remained unchanged since its invention.

“The attraction between Ricard and Pétanque goes all the way back to the early years of the brand,” says Clémence Natta, Marketing Director USA for Ricard. The Provence area of Southern France is our home turf and the port city of Marseille is the place from where both expanded into the world.
“Pastis de Marseille” now sets the basic principle of the recipe invented and developed by Paul Ricard.”

Ricard is served as a long drink generously diluted with water. Serve a 2 cl shot of Ricard, then add 10cl to 14cl of cool water according to personal taste. Add ice only after diluting. “The ritual of drinking Ricard – picking up the carafe, adding water, and seeing the drink change colour – is the beginning of the pleasure”, says Clémence. “It reflects an art of living that combines cheerful friendliness and joy of life, like the game of Pétanque,” pointing at the game courts crowded with players from around the world and mostly wearing Ricard hats as protection against the Florida sun.

A little research into the company gets the surprising result that in 1975 rivals Pernod and Ricard merged and have since become a world spanning operation owning such quality brandname spirits as Chivas Regal, Jameson Irish Whiskey, Absolut Vodka, Wild Turkey, Glenlivet, Seagram’s, Martell Cognac, Jacob’s Creek Wines, Tia Maria, Kahlua, Malibu, Beefeater, Stolichnaya, Mumm and Perrier-Jouet Champagnes and more. Quite an accomplishment for two regional competitors in anise flavored liqueurs.

The natural attraction between the game of Pétanque and Ricard comes from the long drink qualities of the brand. “A typical game between accomplished players often lasts one to sometimes two hours”, explains Clemence, ” a time frame that often coincides with the consumption of a long drink. “The alcohol percentage on a regular mix of 1 part to 5 parts water, is only 7.5%,” Clemence says, adding with a smile, “and even better, a glass of Ricard is only 50 calories, beating light beer, wine, scotch and even champagne.”

Virtual unknown on Amelia Island and the region prior to the Pétanque America tournament, Liquor and Package stores are now carrying the Ricard brand and several establishments have it in their bar line up.
Just like Clemence pointed out, Fernandina Beach and Marseille are both port cities: they understand the worldliness of the unique taste of Ricard.

My personal take on it is this: I may not always be in the mood for the anise flavored drink Ricard, but when I play Petanque or read a book on my porch, it’s a heck of a pleasant companion.

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Cat Scratch Fever-Nassau County Humane Society Concert

Cat Scratch Fever

Cat Scratch Fever

What should have been a standing room only auditorium filled with rock enthusiasts at the Fernandina Beach Recreation Center on Atlantic Avenue last Saturday, can only be justifiably qualified as a good first time effort for the Nassau Humane Society to use rock music as a fundraiser. In my opinion it should have been sold out to a crowd that would have been treated to a great concert.

Those who didn’t show up missed a heck of a concert with some major talent. Frank Basile, organizer and frontman in an organization called musiciansleague.org put bands from as far away as Daytona-Deltona on stage and the quality of the total event was superb. Six bands playing a three song set each, while individual performers filled up the equipment transition times, making the event smooth and the encores’ lively.

During one transition the audience was introduced to Dana from Jacksonville with just a guitar and a voice. She was a last minute addition to the line up and only known as Dana.  The moment she opened her mouth I knew we were looking at a new Melissa Etheridge with a masterful rhythm arm on guitar. Six songs from Dana and the crowd was floor stomping and rhythm clapping for more.

Especially during the last hour of the show, as organizers and musicians were getting into the groove of mixing and matching talent, we heard some amazing rock. Clapton’s “Sunshine of your Love” was a superb performance and could have stretched a little longer, like Clapton did last time I saw him with Dire Straits’ Mark Knopfler. With 13 year old model/rock star-in-the-making Tasia Bosch Dupree on microphone, Kiss’s “Rock and Roll all Night” engaged the crowds in loud appreciation.

Concert Finale

Concert Finale

The closing selections where not an easy cop out and as a lifetime blues/rock musician I know they required substantial practice and mastery on instruments. So when Frankie Basile’s Makeshift band with himself on drums, Hupp Huppmann on guitar, Ray Hetchka on bass and and very steady guitar dude (I tried for an hour to find his picture/name on Facebook) on lead guitar, backed up Jennifer Sealy to stand in for Ann Wilson in the famous Heart song “Barracuda” I was wondering if they could pull it off.¬† Well they did fabulously for a live setting of a very complicated song; and the audience clearly agreed.

Closing up the evening with Ted Nugent’s ‘Cat Scratch Fever’ was a natural theme choice that invited all performing musicians to join in on stage and made it an event resembling closings of “Live Aid” and “We are the World” projects.

I think the organizers are planning a repeat event for next year, in which case I will hand the video camera to one of the other SearchAmelians and happily join in with my guitar. There will be a full show video featured on Comcast channel 29/digital 264 soon. When done with editing we will post it here on the website. It will have the audio tracks recorded through the mixer instead of straight into the camera like this video which always gives some power glitches.

In closing, I am sorry for anyone who likes good rock, to not have been at the Rec Center for Cat Scratch Fever. The $10 admission was well worth the event… you would have enjoyed it far beyond even the knowledge that you supported the Nassau Humane Society and their efforts to help pets in need.

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Weibel and Thibaud too Strong for Competition

Claudy Weibel-left• Xavier Thibaud-right

Claudy Weibel-left‚ Xavier Thibaud-right

European Champion Claudy Weibel and New York partner Xavier Thibaud were too strong for the rest of the Petanquers in the Amelia Island Pétanque America Open last weekend. 2000 World Champion and 2009 European Shooting champion Claudy Weibel was in his element with precision playing partner and friend Xavier Thibaud from the New York Pétanque Club. The strategic ease with which this couple worked themselves quickly into the finals of this first tournament on Amelia Island, was nothing short of amazing.

The tournament director Christophe announced during the opening session that the time limit for all games except the finals would be 1 hour 15 minutes. Team Weibel/Thibaud never went beyond 45 minutes. Thibaud would place his first boule frighteningly close to the target (piglet) and whenever the competing team would threaten his position, Claudy Weibel would step in and without any hesitation whatsoever kick the other team’s ball away from the target and with top spin effect land his own ball right near the target.
We watched the audience gasp and shake their heads in disbelief every time he stepped into the ring. Susan Hurley, event coordinator for the City of Fernandina Beach and an enormous support in the successful conclusion of this first tournament stood next to my camera during the semi-finals and even with my eyes on the view finder I could see her shaking her head and blowing out compressed air every time Claudy Weibel kicked another ball out.

It is said in the game of Pétanque that you do not need to know how to shoot (kick other balls away from the target) to win the game. True as that may be, you better not get someone like Belgian Claudy Weibel as opposition, because you’ll pull your hair out after a while.

With 88 teams from Europe, Canada and the US (many in US teams were from other countries such as Morocco, Tunesia, Madagascar and Central America) the tournament followed a round robin game system that would guarantee the finals to be able to start on Sunday afternoon around 4 with enough daylight left to finish the game with floodlights and give everyone ample time to spruce up for the closing party and prize ceremony at Sandy Bottoms that evening.

The finals started at 4:20 and by 5:10 it was all over, not because runners-up Malik Ernesto and Gilles Ray from the New York Petanque Club, are not fabulous players in their own right, Weibel’s magic shooting and Thibaud’s uncanny precision in landing his boules near the pig were no match for anybody on this day. The final score 13-3.

Aftermath: With Mayor Susan Steger announcing that part of the boat trailer parking lot will be featuring Pétanque courts for the near future, you can now see locals getting out their boules and play until far after sunset under the floodlights. With the second weekend in November being proclaimed by the city as Pétanque America Days and with Petanque courts sprouting up in front and back yards on the island, we can safely say that in next year’s tournament we will see some local talent vying for the prizes.

With more than 4 hours of video footage of the entire Amelia Island Pétanque America Open Tournament on November 14 and 15th, a 90 minute video of the games and the parties will be available in about 3 weeks.

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Interview with Petanque playing Master Chef Michel Nischan

Paul Newman and Michel Nischan

Paul Newman and Michel Nischan

One of the most delightful down-to-earth people ever to set foot on Amelia Island is in my opinion celebrity chef Michel Nischan owner/operator of the famed ‘Dressing Room’ restaurant in Westport Ct. During last week’s Pétanque America Tournament, he and his charming wife Lori lit up the town and a lot of hearts. A novice Petanque player, attracted to the game by fellow celebrity chef Jacques Pepin, his presence among some of the best Petanque players in the world was somewhat shortlived, which gave him and his delightful wife Lori abundant time to explore our island.

Michel wears many hats- from dynamic restaurant owner, award-winning cookbook author and media personality- to food policy activist and non-profit foundation CEO. His collaboration and partnership with Paul Newman before his unfortunate passing last year, is well documented and he is continuing their mutual traditions of healthy foods and sustainable farming. Their motto is “We believe that the food we grow and cook in the place that we call home defines who we are.”

“In this spirit, we update and celebrate American heirloom recipes, support local and regional farmers, fishers and producers, by cooking food that recaptures the pure and simple tastes of natural and organic ingredients. We also strive to raise awareness of a sustainable food future and work to reestablish a sense of community and a simpler, more homegrown time”

Michel told me that what he particularly liked about Amelia Island, was the absence of chain restaurants at least in the downtown area. He is a true proponent and ambassador for local and down home cuisine and sought out our Saturday morning Farmers Market as a perfect place to start getting homegrown back into the homes.

As it turns out his non-profit Wholesome Wave is deeply involved in special programs to bring Farmers Markets back into the focus of our culinary culture. Local and regional food systems and heritage recipes is the focus of his approach to cuisine and the passion of his Wholesome Wave Organization (www.wholesomewave.org).

His best selling cookbooks Taste, Pure and Simple and Homegrown, Pure and Simple and his contributions to the PBS Food series Victory Garden, landed him a 2008 James Beard Foundation Award. He is widely known for multiple appearances on Rachel Ray, Oprah and other TV shows in which he expands on the practice of homegrown delicacies.

Now where my excitement really moves up a hundred degrees or more is when Michel Nischan considers our community and the Pétanque Tournament a prime candidate for additional dimensions, such as adding a food and wine festival and Provencial Marketplace to the total experience next year. Having a French/Dutch upbringing with a large vegetable garden in the back of our parental home, a love for wine that was instilled before I turned the age of one and a lifelong push for healthful cuisine, you bet, that I am excited about the possibilities of such an event. Michel Nischan is a food visionary with the organizational skill to make something happen. Read this story in the New York Restaurant Insider from March this year and you’ll understand what I mean.

We’ll be in contact Michel. Count on it.

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Dynamic Les DeMerle Jazz Trio CD Release Party

Les DeMerle's Gypsy Rendezvous, Volume One

Les DeMerle's Gypsy Rendezvous, Volume One

The Dynamic LesDeMerle Jazz Trio, featuring Bonnie Eisele, is thrilled to announce their newest CD, Gypsy Rendezvous, Volume One. The release party will be held at the Ocean 60 Restaurant in Atlantic Beach, Florida. This exciting band will be performing on both Friday and Saturday nights (November 20 and 21) from 8:30 PM to Midnight.

Ocean 60 is an elegant, but relaxed restaurant, martini and wine bar that features dark rich woods and an ever changing local artist gallery that adorns the walls. Join Bonnie and Les as they entertain you with their jazz repertoire and music from this exciting new release while you dine in this chic venue.

Gypsy Rendezvous, Volume One, has legendary drummer Les DeMerle infusing his masterful sizzle into this latest Origin recording. Recorded in Maui during a Hawaiian tour, this dynamic band reworks some bebop staples. Take a look for yourself at the tracks listed below, or better yet, listen to them live this weekend and pick up a copy of the CD to add to your own musical collection. Sample sound clips are available at www.origin-records.com.

TRACKS:
1 Pent Up House 2:43
2 For Sephora 5:06
3 This Can’t Be Love 3:21
4 Swingin’ Shepherd Blues 4:08
5 Besame Mucho 4:22
6 Old Man River 5:48
7 Skylark 5:08
8 St. Louis Blues 5:00
9 Hit That Jive Jack 2:41
10 Heavy Artillery 4:01
11 Soon It’s Gonna Rain / Here’s That Rainy Day 4:15
12 Deixa / Let Me 3:20
13 Do Nothin’ ‘Til You Hear From Me 5:33
14 Yardbird Suite 2:38
15 Drums To The Max 6:12

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Celebrity Chef Jacques Pepin, Ambassador for Petanque

Famous Chef Jaques Pepin book signing on amelia Island during the Petanque America Open 2009

Famous Chef Jaques Pepin book signing on amelia Island during the Petanque America Open 2009

During last weekend’s Amelia Island Petanque America tournament we had the pleasure and honor to interview several world famous chefs and players in front of our cameras. The first one of a series is TV celebrity chef Jacques Pepin, who with his wife Gloria gave a very special dimension to the event.

Unfortunately his flight plans were delayed coming in from the cold in Connecticut, which prevented him from playing the entire tournament, but gave chef Pete “da Meat” from Amelia Island Food Concepts the thrill of a lifetime as he teamed up on Sunday with the man who taught America French cooking.

A delightful gentleman, Jacques Pepin patiently made himself available for a book signing session on Sunday and we actually witnessed locals coming to the event with a bag full of his books to have him dedicate and sign them. At times the line was 30 people long which is a credit for Pepin’s importance to American Gourmets.

Watch him explain why Petanque is such a great game. You’ll get a kick out of it.

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Music of a Kingly Nature by Island Chamber Singers

Island Chamber Singers, from Amelia Island

Island Chamber Singers, from Amelia Island

The Island Chamber Singers, from Amelia Island, Florida, are featuring Coronation Anthems of Handel and Coronation Mass of Mozart at their Fall Concert entitled, “Music of a Kingly Nature”. This event has two showings at the Amelia Plantation Chapel. There will be a reception Friday night, November 20, after the concert that begins at 8:00 PM. If you are unable to attend Friday, try catching the Sunday, November 22, concert at 3:00 PM.

Tickets are $15.00 for adults and $5.00 for full-time students. They are available at the Gateeway Chamber of Commerce, the Centre Street Train Depot or at the door. For more information visit their website at www.islandchambersingers.com.

Here is the program:

Coronation Anthems – Handel (1685-1759)
“Let Thy Hand Be Strengthened”
“My Heart is Inditing”
“The King Shall Rejoice”
“Zadok the Priest”

Intermission

Coronation Mass – Mozart (1756-1790)
(Mass No. 15 in C major, KV 317)
I. Kyrie
II. Credo
III. Sanctus
IV. Benedictus
V. Agnus Dei

Instrumental Ensemble: Organ, String Quartet, Trumpets, Timpani

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Please Give Space to the Manatees

Manatees Migrate in Spring and Fall

Manatees Migrate in Spring and Fall

Florida wildlife officials are urging boaters to be on the lookout for manatees that are migrating to warmer waters for the winter. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says boaters should stay in marked channels and obey speed zone signs during the winter migration period.

Kipp Frohlich, a leader of the FWC’s Imperiled Species Management Section, says boaters should also give a manatee plenty of room in the water because it might not be traveling alone. According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Web site, manatees generally travel along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts during the fall and spring.

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Know Your Water Before Setting Sail

Get Marine Charts to navigate the oceans

Get Marine Charts to navigate the oceans

I have received several e-mails over the past couple of weeks from people who’d like to take up boating and the need to understand nautical charts. While I highly recommend knowing all you can take in when it comes to boating, I’m going to dispute the fact that understanding a formal nautical chart, such as one published by NOAA, is a pre-requisite before you get on the water. First let’s start about what type of boating you plan on doing; is it weekend fishing or cruising with the family up and down a section of the Intercoastal Waterway or the Amelia River; stretches you have boated on for years? Or is it something more along the lines of taking an extended trip up the coast in search of new frontiers and adventures? Perhaps you are thinking of an ocean crossing like to the Bahamas or Bermuda, or is it something bigger like an Atlantic crossing?

What ever the case may be, there are levels of knowledge that accompanies each scenario, some obviously more demanding than others. Do you remember the first time you had the notion of driving a car? Did your driving instructor say OK before you got behind the wheel or did they first have you spend a few hours reading the drivers handbook to better understand all the road signs you may encounter? My thoughts are you probably drove a little first, then continued further learning as you gained more experience.

I have been boating my entire life. I carry a 50 gross ton USCG license and have captained both sail and power boats in a charter configuration. I have been privileged to be captain in charge of an 82′ motor yacht and much more. For the past 12 years I have owned and operated a marine dealership that has sold and shipped boats of all sizes all over the world; to say I know a little something about boats and piloting them is probably an understatement. In all my years of boating I have found 99.8% of all recreational boats in use today are being used in the same bodies of water year in and year out by their owners/captains. Now that’s not to say that the dreams and aspirations of the owners aren’t larger and plans are always in the works for something more, it’s just when it comes to normal everyday boating, this normally takes place.

So where does a nautical chart come into play and how in depth does one need to go into before setting out on the water? First every good captain needs to have an excellent understanding of the waters he or she is planning on navigating. Knowing first hand the tides and their ranges, areas to stay clear of and the layout in general of the waters they plan to enjoy.

Even the greenest new boat owner usually knows a little bit about the waters they plan to navigate before they launch their boat.  But what about the mariners who are planning to navigate their vessels in unfamiliar waters, areas that they have never been in nor have any knowledge of?

Now we are talking about having a chart and knowing how to read it. If you are one of these folks, where do you start with the basics when it comes to chart reading? Besides searches on the internet, the Coast Guard Auxiliary is a good place to start. They do a fabulous job on the fundamentals in this area and can provide so much more to your typical scenarios you may encounter when navigating with a chart. The auxiliary has a strong presence in most major cities and in our area we have squadrons both in Fernandina as well as in Jacksonville.

If you are considering getting into boating and are hesitant due to the lack of understanding when it comes to charts or are a current boater and are considering taking on waters that are not common to you, start with purchasing a NOAA chart and carefully study them while identifying land marks and its layout. Then get yourself enrolled in either a Coast Guard Auxiliary boating class or an equivalent to get the knowledge you need to expand your horizons. You will impress your family and friends once you master the art of chart reading. But more importantly you will be safer.

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Southern Elegance at the Waterwheel Art Gallery

Waterwheel Art Gallery

Waterwheel Art Gallery

The romance of southern landscape by Serfei Orgunov is on display at the Waterwheel Art Gallery. This opening and reception, “Southern Elegance” is Thursday, November 19th, from 4:00 to 7:00 PM.

New to the Waterwheel Art Gallery, Sergei Orgunov is a Russian artist whose work is not to be missed! You will fall in love with his landscapes and adore his still-life’s. These paintings must be seen in person to appreciate the detail and quality.

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Pétanque America Open 2009 comes to a close

Petanque America Open comes to a Close

Petanque America Open comes to a Close

Here are the photographic impression of the second and finals day of the American Open Petanque 2009 on Amelia Island, Fernandina Beach. The second day may have been even more glorious in weather than Saturday’s treat of a phenomenal sunrise followed by azure blue skies and temperatures in the high 70’s. The weather was so beautiful that many a player and spectator at the end of the day had slight sunburns and wearing a hat or cap was almost a necessity.

Next to remarkable round 32 games, quarter, semi finals and finals the public was treated on a book signing by world famous chef, Jacques Pépin and many took the opportunity to get a personal copy signed and sealed with a photo-op with this great chef. Rumors has it that the next pétanque tournament on Amelia Island will be in grandeur style involving food and wine. Again, just a rumor but the boyish smile on Pépin’s face when asked by our publisher about this “chef’s secrets in the pétanque circles” holds promise of something truly unique for Amelia Island and Fernandina Beach.

From the great number of comments from the players and visitors, Fernandina Beach on the quaint Island of Amelia, has touched so many with the promise of returning to our beautiful shores that the next pétanque tournament is almost certainly sealed.

Below is the Photo impression of the second and finals day of the Pétanque America Open 2009. If you wish to receive high resolution images (and we have many more pictures not featured below) please let us know and we will consider making the total of almost 600 pictures available for download in the next couple of days, but you must let us know.

Petanque America Day One Impressions

Opening Day Petanque America Open 2009

Opening Day Petanque America Open 2009

Under a cloudless sky amidst a multitude of languages from around the world, the Pétanque America Tournament is fast becoming a showcase of excellent team spirit for a fantastic game of highly competitive “boule” play. Below you’ll find a photo impression of the first day of the tournament. Many Fernandina Beach and Amelia Island residents watched in awe the skillful game players throw, toss and chuck the 600 gr. cast iron balls on courts lining the waterfront marina just a stones throw of the Hampton Inn and Suites.

Today is the second and final tournament day starting with the round of the last 32 teams competing around 9:30 am this morning with an expected grand finale around 4:00 pm. Seeing that the diminished field of competitors will only occupy about half of the courts, residents and tourists alike are invited to play a round of this highly addictive game. Come out and enjoy the fine weather, see the grand masters from all over the world compete and toss a couple of balls with friends or complete strangers under ideal sunny circumstances.

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Pétanque America Tournament fabulous fun and sportsmanship

Petanque America

Petanque America

Not without a grateful nod to the beautiful weather, the first Amelia Island Pétanque America Open was a huge success. Hundreds of spectacular games gave a very appreciative Amelia Island crowd a taste of Petanque. The finals on a beautiful Sunday afternoon was a match between Xavier Thibaud’s team and Malik’s team both from The New York Pétanque Club, however after seeing the ease and accuracy of Xavier’s partner and friend, former world champion and current European shooting champion Claudy Weibel, it was no surprise that this team took top honors with a 13-3 final victory.

I will report more on the fabulous tournament, chef interviews, pictures and its annual future in Fernandina Beach tomorrow. Tonight we have to party.

Blue Door Artists Reception at Intercoastal Wine

Blue Door Artists

Blue Door Artists

The Blue Door Artists are holding a reception at the Intercoastal Wine Company at 10 North 2nd Street in historic Fernandina Beach on Tuesday, November 17, from 6:00 to 8:00 PM.

Blue Door Artists is made up of local contemporary artists and offer a fine selection of art in a variety of media and genres to fit your budget and taste. Stop by and meet the artists and enjoy a glass of wine in this lovely Amelia Island venue.

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International Pétanque Tournament Has a Fabulous Start

Amelia Island Pétanque America Open

Amelia Island Pétanque America Open

As the wind is lightly calming down, dozens of competitors in this weekend’s International Petanque Tournament were crowding the courts while they were still being measured and laid out. It’s a happy crowd playing a happy game and they all said, “What a great gesture and contribution from the city of Fernandina Beach to make this tournament happen.” As it turns out, they had all been waiting for Philippe Boets, Petanque America owner, to organize another tournament since the last one in Miami in 2005.

Celebrity chef Jean Banchet signed in at 3 pm sharp and practiced most of the afternoon. Larry Cragg, guitar technician for Neil Young since 1973, who still frequently tours with him these days as banjo and steel guitar pedalist, got into a deep discussion with me about vintage guitars and string instruments which is of course was exactly up my alley.

Seeing people from all over the world greeting and re-acquainting is a very satisfying scene here on Amelia Island and we thank Philippe Boets and TJ Seaton, his assistant for pulling it off. With French music in the background it started to feel like an afternoon in the haute Provence, with special thanks to the efforts of City event coordinator Susan Hurley.

I think we’re going to have some fun this weekend. The matches are starting at around 9:30 AM both Saturday and Sunday, with the finals planned for Sunday afternoon at 4:00 PM. If you have a little time on your hands this weekend, we highly recommend coming to the boat trailer parking lot in the downtown marina and watch the champions or try it yourself. It really is addictive fun.

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