Monday, 29 September 2008

Water-jousting in Languedoc, France

At some point in the distant past, the French decided that you don’t need a horse to be a knight in shining armour, and the truly bizarre sport of water jousting was born.
Practiced increasingly across France, it involves two groups of eight rowers powering their champion down the river.
Perched on a heightened platform, the two jousters are armed with a lance and a shield and expected to prod, swing and defend until one of them is knocked off, preferably into the river.
For some reason, the boats also contain a drummer and someone playing a modified oboe, but given that the rest of it makes little sense, who cares? Oh yes, and they’re all singing too.
Languedoc is regarded as the home of water jousting, and while it also happens elsewhere, this is often with ultra-safe lances, and a lot of the pageantry taken out.
The most prestigious tournament is held in Sète on August 25th every year, but events can be stumbled across throughout the summer.

More information: Rules and dates can be found at the Fédération Française de Joutes et Sauvetage Nautique’s website.

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