Four teams from the New Forest travelled to Reading University to take on the best of British Fencing Southern Region. The newest intake of juniors made their first foray into team competition for the U13, U16 and U20 events for épée and sabre.
Fencing in relay format, where each bout is fought to a five-hit interval or three minutes duration before a changeover, each team match runs to a winning score of forty-five hits.
Contested in the University Sports Centre, the large hall was filled by midday by over a hundred of the region’s juniors, many of whom were competing for the first time. Run as a ‘friendly’ competition, the event was conducted in a genial atmosphere off the fencing strip, and in deadly earnest on it when the referees called ‘play’.
With only one U20 junior class for sabre, the Sway team of Rowan Tolfts, Steven Prevett, Jacob Crick and Sam Kessel faced stiff competition from much more seasoned competitors. Opponents from Reading University including overseas internationals and members of the GB cadet squad. Other club teams from Southern Region presented serious challenges. It was an experience shared with the Lymington-Walhampton Fencing Club team of Colm Locke, Johnny Eaves, Gareth Read and Asher White, who found themselves up against highly agile and tactically smart sabreurs.
With a narrow difference in indicators – hits scored minus hits conceded – the Lymington team missed out on the bronze to finish fourth. Sway feared the worst but finished an unexpected fifth.
Sway fared better in the team épée competitions, although for the U16 team of Will and Emily Prendergast and Jack Gale, the older fencers from Reading and a combined force from RGS/Headington/Dilletante proved to be overpowering. Pulling together after poor starts, the U16 trio made respectable scores of 15 and 18 points.
The U13 Épée proved the highlight for Forest fencers. The Sway team of Serena Hogg, Arnie Seal and Aaron Crick enjoyed a level playing field in age, if not experience and, through close-fought matches, emerged in silver medal position.
This renewed push for competitive fencing in the New Forest is beginning to show results already. Helped by this season’s sponsorship from Lashmars Tax Accountants, Sway Fencing was able to kit out the four teams with regulation kit across the age groups. With a full fixture list for 2013 and an extra local event yet to add, this season is looking promising. Sway Fencing Club expects a further intake of beginners from January 14th next year. RC