On sunday 29th March, to celebrate our 50th anniversary, Saxon hosted its Golden Anniversary Novice Foil at St. Benedict’s School. 27 Fencers from as far afield as Eton and Fulham gathered to compete in the competition for fencers with less than 2 years in the sport. Two rounds of mixed poules, (round robin mini-leagues of 5 point bouts) were fought foughtto seed a men’s and women’s direct elimination tableau, seamlessly administered by John as the Directeur Technical and refereed by a motely crew of Saxons and celebrity guests.
The women’s competition featured 11 fencers, the good turn out attributed by some to Paul’s impressive recruiting charm. Elzette Roelofse struggled in her poules, so had to fight Rosie Cuss of St. Benedict’s for a 1/4 final place. Sadly it was not Elzette’s day and she went out 15-10. The talented Julliete Allibone was a little off colour and out of practice. She had below par, poules, then powered past St. Benedict’s Philly Codrington to face Cat Crossley in the 1/4 final, where her day ended.
Sharon Thomas faired well in the poules with the men, taking 2nd woman’s seeding, her direct, belligerant (I agreed not to call her agressive) style pushing her past Rosie in the quarter finals to earn her a well deserved semi final place. This pitted her up against Hanna Mahal of Eaton. Hanna proved a very good fencer who maintained her distance well and showed excellent blade work. She went ahead early and despite a brave rally by Sharon in the middle points, it was Hanna who took her place in the final.
The elegant Madeline Bell, seeded as the 4th woman after the poules, went straight to the quarter final where she comfortably beat Jane Beeston. This drew her against Cat Crossley. Cat, a Club des Artiste fencer who has since joined Saxon, was the surprise package of the day. Her strong poules seeded her second amongst the women and she did well to beat Juliette. The Madeline-Cat Semi was an intriguing match. Madeline was ahead through most of the match and at 13-10 up seemed to have the bout sewn up. Cat was undaunted however and with Yorkshire grit hung in to take the bout to 14-14, then snatch the final point.
In the final Hanna’s class showed. Probably the best technnical fencer amongst the women she was compact with a very neat, well timed parry riposte which served her well all day. Cat never gave up, but Hanna opened an early lead that she was never going to give up so became the first Saxon novice champion.
With 16 men there was a full tableaux, with all the men having to fight for their 1/4 final place. Steve Donati, another subsequently recruited Club des Artiste fencer was a pre tournament favourite. However his poule results placed him in the middle of the field so he had tough bouts from the first. His first opponent, Vittorio Spadadavecchia may not move on the piste as well as Steve, or be as easy to spell, but he makes up for it in strength and competitiveness. 8th after the poules, he powered his way into the quarter final against Christian Chilton. Christian, another fencer fancied for the title, finished the pouled as top seed had an easy first round match, but then found Vittorio, a frequent sparring partner on Thursday nights, sterner competition. It went right to the wire, before Vittorio took the bout 15-14.
Goldbert Dy, Brunel fencer and occassional Saxon had very moderate poules, winning only 4/10 and seeding 12th. He then picked his game up, easily beating James Pepper in the last 16 to face Adam Jeavons in the 1/4 final. Adam had been fencing well all day, making full use of his height and seeding 4th then getting a solid win in his first DE. Goldbert however fenced a very intellegent bout, closing the distance quickly and negating Adam’s longer reach. Adam had no answer and Goldbert went through comfortably.
In the semi final Goldbert again fenced a good tactical game, his fast footwork being too much for the less experienced Vittorio. Vittorio, one of the form fencers of the day, fenced well, but Goldbert always looked like taking the final spot.
The other half of the tableau was rather thin on Saxon fencers. Christopher Cockburn, after good poules, found himself against Damien Bienias, another surprise package on the day who beat him on the way to the final. Edward Bentley fenced superbly in the poules, winning all 10 bouts, seeding 2nd, just behind Christian. He will be still be kicking himself for going out to Anthony Brown in the first round.
The final between Goldbert and Damien was a bout between two young, fast energetic fencers. Damien had fenced well throughout the DEs, and the clash of steel rang around the St. Benedicts cloister from the start. Goldbert, though, clearly has a good fencing brain and fenced the better bout, coming away as men’s champion.
Results – Saxon Golden Anniversary Novice Foil Championship 2009
1. Hanna Mahal – Eton
2. Cat Crossley – Club Des Artistes
3= Madeline Bell – Saxon
3= Sharon Thomas – Saxon
5. Jane Beeston – St. Benedict’s
6. Amber Mahal – Eton
7. Juliette Allibone – Saxon
8. Rosie Cuss – St. Benedict’s Club
9. Elzette Roelofse – Saxon
10. Philly Codrington – St. Benedict’s
11. Virginia Curran – St. Benedict’s
1 Goldbert Dy – Brunel
2 Damian Bienias – St. Benedict’s School
3= Vittorio Spandadavecchia – Saxon
3= Nathan Garnham – St. Benedict’s School
5. Christian Chilton – Saxon
6. Jan Knapp – Club Des Artistes
7. Adam Jeavons – Saxon
8. Anthony Brown – St. Benedict’s
9. Edward Bentley – Saxon
10. James Pepper – Egham
11. Christopher Cockburn – Saxon
12. Steve Donati – Club Des Artistes
13. Rupert Belsham –St. Benedict’s School
14. Nic Wassall – Club Des Artistes
15. Matthew Brackenbury – St. Benedict’s School
16. George de Cintra – St. Benedict’s School