Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Las Palmas International Beach Ultimate Tournament

The Torneo Internacional Beach Ultimate in Las Palmas this weekend was an absolute blast.  It was a hat tournament, which means you sign up as an individual and rate your ability, then the organizers make equal teams (or draw names from a hat, hence the name hat tournament).

We arrived around midnight in Las Palmas (1am Madrid time) and took a taxi straight from the airport to the bar where the welcome party was being held.  This was the event during which they drew names to form teams.  We walked in with all of our stuff right as they were finishing the last couple names.

There were nine different teams, and you had to complete a word search type puzzle in order to figure out your team name.  Lacking a pen, my team was not one of the first ones to figure out our name.  In fact, we never even finished the whole puzzle.  After a couple teams had finished, they put the names up on the projected screen.

Every team was an animal or plant found in the Canary Islands.  My team name was Pinzón Azul (Blue Chaffinch), named after a bird that lives on the islands of Tenerife and Gran Canaria.

I thought we were just going to stop in at the welcome party and find out what teams we were on, maybe mingle for an hour tops, then head to the hotel for some shut eye.  Nope.

Somehow we ended up being some of the last people in the bar.  It was after 4am by the time we left the bar (5am Madrid time!) to check-in at the hotel.

Friday morning my team played in the first games at 10:45, which really wasn't that early of a start time.  But after getting back so late the night before and waking up by nine for breakfast, I was running on sleep-deprived mode all day.

We're at the beach!  Time to sunscreen-it-up

We won our first game, during which I caught three points!  Believe it.

My team played two more games that day and lost both.

After our last game, I hopped in line for a free massage right there on the beach.  A massage school had a tent set up all three days of the tournament to give free massages to whoever wanted them.

Free massages
There was always water and fruit available to all players.  If you wanted to buy other food (tortilla española, pasta, etc.) or drinks (read: beer), you could do so in another tent right there next to the fields.  Instead of carrying money around with you during the tournament, there were lists of players' names at the food tent.  You simply added a tally next to your name in the appropriate food/drink column when you ordered something.  It made ordering go a lot faster, and then you just paid off your tab on Sunday before leaving.

Friday's games all ended by 3:30pm, which is when "Accuracy" began.  The first 40 people who signed up for Accuracy could compete.  There were seven cones set up in different locations from a net, with four discs at each cone.  Each person had six or seven minutes to throw all of the discs, trying to get as many as they could into the net.

This lasted for hours, so at 5pm I decided to head back to the hotel for a shower, and to try to fit in a nap before dinner.  I met up with my team at 8:30pm to go to dinner.  On the walk to the restaurant, we saw some impressive sand creations on the beach.

Impressive Sand Creation #1

Impressive Sand Creation #2

We finished dinner around quarter to midnight and walked back to the hotel.  I was so full and exhausted I could have gone straight to bed but alas, it was the costume party night!  The theme of Friday night's party was "Zebras and Leopards," so I wore some great leopard stuff that Hannah found and bought the week before.

Hannah and I

Along with zebras and leopards; there were some safari guys, hunters, and even a circus ringmaster.

The next morning my first game wasn't until 11:30am, but we didn't want to miss breakfast so we were up by 9:00 again.

My team had four games on Saturday and we won one.  In the middle of the day there were Accuracy finals, between the top 10 from the previous day.


We were at the tournament playing or watching games until 5 or 6pm that day, then it was back to the hotel for showers before dinner.  Dinner on Saturday was included in the tournament cost, and it was at an Indian Restaurant.  Buffet.  Yummm.

My dinner Saturday night

There was a slideshow of pictures from Friday and Saturday playing on a big-screen TV during dinner.  After dinner was... the Saturday night party.  And once again I was super full and exhausted, but the organizers said there would be una sorpresa (a surprise) at the party, so that's what drove me to go with everyone to the bar.

The surprise was a musical group that got everyone to their feet!

I left the bar quite early and got back to the hotel sometime after 2am -- my earliest night yet!  I simply needed to sleep.

On Sunday morning after breakfast we packed up our stuff and brought it all down to the beach for the final day of the tournament.  Since my team had had four games on Saturday instead of three, we only had one game on Sunday -- and we won it!  It was nice to be able to relax and watch all of the other games that day (including the finals) after I was done with my single game.

Our friend Hermann's team was in the finals that afternoon.  Here are some pictures of the game:

Spectating at the finals

After the finals we had some fun jumping into the ocean before we had to catch a taxi to the airport.

In sum: Great tournament. Sunny weekend. Met lots of people (many Germans).  Played and watched lots of ultimate.  A highly recommended tournament.

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