WCBU Preview: Great Britain

Beach Ultimate, Mixed, news, Open, Previews, WCBU 2015, Womens

With GB taking on the rest of world next week in Dubai at the World Championships of Beach Ultimate the Showgame previews all the squads going. Thanks to Rob Schumacher, Philippa Sturt, Paul Waite, Dave Grayson, Simon Brasse and Steph Balsys for their contributions!

ECBU Ireland Review

An Irish Eye, Beach Ultimate, ECBU, GB, Germany., Irish Ultimate, Mixed Ultimate, Portugal, Sweden
Mark Earley tells us of the Irish success at ECBU last month.

Irish Mixed team make history in Calafell


About a week ago now, the European Championships of Beach Ultimate took place in Calafell, Spain. The tournament was hosted by the local team Peixets, ably lead by the Tournament Director Juan Carlos (better known as ‘Mom’) and his team of staff and volunteers. Two Irish teams attended the event, both with contrasting results, as anticipated.

In the Open Division, a young and inexperienced Irish team made the journey and found the going tough. They were beaten well by most opponents, despite starting every game strongly and showing much potential throughout. Winning just one game during the week was frustrating for a group of players that will feel they should have beaten Hungary, a team that pipped them in a sudden death game on the Saturday and beat them by 4 on the Sunday. They did not face Portugal, who finished below them but would likely have beaten a nation whose focus was on the Mixed division, much like Ireland’s.


Leading in to the tournament the Irish Mixed team had done nothing but impress. They had won two warm up tournaments and had finished fourth at Paganello, narrowly losing to the finalists and in their bronze medal game. They came in confident but focused. Unfortunately for them the week started as badly as it could with Poland jumping to a 6-0 lead and closing out the biggest upset of day 1 by winning 10-8. Ireland regrouped though and ended top of their group having thumped Turkey and UEI, beaten the Netherlands in a tight 10-8 win and getting the better of a GB team who had already qualified by winning 4 group games. That put Ireland top of the group and allowed them maintain their seeding. 
Daragh Ó’ Céilleachair makes a bid against Turkey (Spirit winners) in pool stages.

The quarter-finals were the cause of a Captain’s Meeting and much discussion at the end of the days play on day 2 of the tournament. Due to various teams holding seed and a number of odd results the schedule saw teams who had already played each other in pool play meet in  the quarter-finals. Sweden, among others, objected but given that the schedule had been emailed to all captains and agreed upon they were left with little choice to stick by it. While this was undoubtedly fair, it gave the draw a somewhat lopsided look with Russia, Germany and a (very) under-seeded Sweden all on one side. However, as many people noted, you need to beat the best to be the best.

Ireland faced GB in their quarter-final and produced their most complete performance of the tournament in a repeat of the previous day’s pool game. Haring out of the blocks the Irish converted 3 quick turns and didn’t look back, taking half at 7-2. They never let their foot off the gas and won 13-4, sending a statement of intent to the rest of the competition. If ever a team needed to shake off a defeat, this team did it with this game. Suddenly the Polish loss seemed like a year a go, not a mere two days previous.
Seamus Murray sends another disc long against GB in their QF match up.

Portugal were the team in their way of a berth in the final. Another trip to the Arena for what promised to be a cracking match up. The teams had met twice previously, with Ireland having won both games in testing conditions and with Portugal missing some big players. This time the wind was a factor once more, but perhaps not as much as expected. Both teams began nervously, trading turnovers but it was David Pimenta who stood out, as he single-handedly tried to swing the game Portugal’s way with a number of big blocks and grabs. However, the strength of Ireland’s women, and indeed their offence, began to shine through. They went 3 points up late in the game and despite a Portuguese fightback, won out to ensure a place in the final, and a medal.

The final was the last of the games in the Arena on day four of ECBU 2013. The sun was shining, the wind blowing and the crowd in good voice. Ireland faced a Swedish team who had lost just one game, in pool play against the Germans – a game they avenged with a crushing victory in the semi-final, and who were playing extremely well. With years of international experience among their men and speed, agility and athleticism across the women, it was hard to see a weak link in the Swedish team. That said, it was a final and few teams are adverse to mistakes in front of a big crowd.
Sweden and Ireland after the Mixed division final.

The game began cagily. Both teams turned over in odd ways – misread discs, overthrown hucks and some drops. Eventually Sweden punched in the goal and were on the scoreboard. Point two saw them break the Irish offence again and so the theme for the game was set. Ireland could not get the space they were used to around their handler reset and their female players were facing their toughest battle yet. A slow start was unlike them and they appeared a little rattled, making mistakes where previously they hadn’t. A few dropped discs, a couple of marginal calls and all under sustained Swedish pressure left Ireland chasing the game and the more they chased the more the fight slipped away from them. It was a frustrating and disappointing end to a brilliant season and talking to the players after the game they felt like they’d under performed on the big stage. Sweden can take credit for a lot of the problems caused but Ireland will have to shoulder some of it too.

Ireland Mixed take Silver at ECBU.

Having watched from the sidelines it was easier to immediately understand how much their achievement means for them as players and indeed for Irish Ultimate as a whole. This is the first team to come home from any major championship with a medal and they won it in style, finishing the season with only a handful of losses. They played with swagger, aggression and Spirit. They won over opposition teams and impartial fans with their honesty and sense of team. What’s more they did it all with a legion of fans at home willing them on, cheering their every move and hoping they’d bring something back to Ireland once the sand settled in Spain.

Looking further down the line this result is an example to young players of what can be achieved with hard work, tactical nous and a focus on putting team chemistry ahead of all else. There are many Irish teams setting off this summer, all younger than most of this Mixed Beach team and no doubt keen to replicate their efforts. If they look at how the team applied themselves and how they behaved they will learn a lot. This Irish team is one for the Irish community to be proud of, one the three captains can look back on with pride and one which has set a high bar for teams to follow. Here’s hoping it’s just a start…


Yesterday was a massive day for the community making that $15,000 in a couple days for ulti.tv, looking forward to WG streaming! Like, share, comment and contribute! DP @ tSG.

ECBU 2013 Preview

Beach Ultimate, ECBU, Mixed, Open, Previews, Womens
David Pryce, Josh Coxon Kelly and Lauren Bryant bring the ECBU preview as seen on SkyD Magazine a couple weeks ago. With only 1 day to go get behind our GB squads and follow them at www.live.ecbu2013.org

Number of active players: – approx 3000, (106 at ECBU).
Notable beach tournaments: Sunburn, Copa del Soul, C.U.B.E, Frostbite, Quicksands, West Coast Fours, Sandcastle.
Past participation in beach championships: WCBU 2004, WCBU 2007, WCBU 2011.
Division participation at ECBU 2013: Open, Women, Mixed, Open Masters, Mixed Masters, Womens Masters, Grand Masters.


Overall most players in the UK learn and continue to play on grass.
In the beginning like so many countries the sport developed in the early 1980’s at university sports fields across the country. Teams like Warwick Bears, Sussex Mohawks and many more sprung up across the UK eventually forming clubs through friends and finally gaining momentum into the clubs we see today.
With the concentration of students and eventual alumni in the capital, London has become a hub for UK ultimate boasting many top flight teams in all divisions with Clapham and Fire in open, Iceni and SYC in womens and not forgetting Royal Goaltimate Society and Thundering Herd in the mixed.
In recent years through the hard work of many in Brighton Ultimate on the south coast has also seen the beginning of a similar hub joined with local universities and feeding directly into the club scene. However, what of the beach? The UK’s sandy beaches may not be the best in Europe or at times good for ultimate but us hardy Brits don’t let that stop us and get our beach fix a couple times a year here and taking many a team to Paganello. For some years beach ultimate has been seen as more of a fun version of the serious grass sport. In the past this is how teams and players who represented GB may have seen it too. GB Open took a huge step last summer on the grass in Japan, namely getting to a Worlds final and gaining a silver medal. Will we see this success on the beach? Possibly with the amazing gold for the Mixed masters at WCBU 2011, the tide may have turned. Regardless of the past Great Britain will be represented by 7 very strong squads in Calafell this summer, here is what the teams look like and what we think they could do.


Open  

Beach veteran Jaimie Cross leads the British Open squad who are hoping to improve on their 2011 WCBU showing where the British open squad placed 11th overall, and 8th out of the European teams. Without the draw of the international grass open and mixed squads, this year’s ECBU team is not short of top club talent. David Stobbs, Magnus Wilson and Kai Yokoo Laurence joining Cross to make up the Clapham contingent, however the bulk of the squad is made up of players from Fire of London, with no less than 8 players forming the core of the squad this year. Cross, David Ford, Elliott More, Chris Whittle and Richard Roberts further benefit from their experience together in WCBU. However the team will undoubtedly have its sights set higher than GB beach open’s last outing. This year’s team entered Paganello in preparation coming 7th overall, and by doing so are showing themselves to be a serious outfit with high aims for the tournament. Compared to the sands of perhaps Spain and Italy, Britain has classically lacked a prominent beach scene. This squad will look for on-pitch connections from both club and country as they try to upturn this and take on the thriving European beach scene.

GB Open (Jurassic 5) at Paganello 2013. Photo courtesy of Get Horizontal.

Womens

The GB women’s beach squad will be looking to capitalise on the success of their campaign in Italy two years ago that saw them take a bronze medal in WCBU2011. Despite beating eventual winners the US during the pool stages, GB lost in sudden death to Canada in the semi and denied a spot in the final, but convincingly won the 3-4 playoff over Germany to take the last podium spot.
The team heading to Calafell this year sees many returners from the previous squad. Captain Bex Forth, who has won Paganello more times than most people would believe possible, has a core of players that includes World Games squad members (Becci Haigh, Ellie Hand) European championship-winning Iceni (Lily Huang, Ange Wilkinson, Liza Bowen and Rachel Kelly) and Brighton women (Megan Hurst, Alize “Bob” Clough and Chrissy Birtwistle). But there are no passengers on this team, with 17 excellent women boasting a combination of speed, skills and smarts.
Bex’s unrivalled knowledge and experience of the beach game will be apparent from the get-go: expect this squad to be well-drilled, efficient and intelligent, and to return to the UK as champions.
GB Womens training in Bournemouth. Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Hand.

Mixed

As seen over the past few years at EUC in Slovenia and WUGC in Japan Mixed Ultimate in the UK is thriving on grass and the same can be said on the beach. At WCBU 2011 the Mixed squad, mostly made up of Warwick Bears and Brighton players, came in at 5th only just behind other European teams Germany and Portugal.
This years team is a very different one, with an on paper cut performed before trials in February the decisions were already tough for player manager Jon “Kos” Brooks and captains Adriano Scarampi and Lauren Bryant. However a squad was selected, after a snowy beach trial, of 17 players; 9 men and 8 women. The men consisted of a small unit of last years Tooting Tigers in James Jagger, Fred Shone, James Threadgill and David Pryce whom Scarampi knew he could mold into the systems the team wanted. Alongside these few stand other great players behind the disc (Luke Tobiasiewicz), downfield cutting (Emmanuel Bennett) and creating D’s like the best (Jonathan Clark). Over on the ladies side all but one of the 8 are Iceni players and altogether create a formidable force that could be a good womens team let alone the mixed side they have become. With the height and defensive awareness of Francesca Scarampi, Lauren Bowman and Stephanie Lees no endzone is easy to get into and handlers akin to Mara Alperin and Catherine Vaughan will strike fear into every team. In the middle of the pitch the speed of Catherine Gale, Ania Zbirohowska-Koscia all led by Bryant will force many a lady to have no space and no options.
This team have competed together once this year already taking 9th (came out bad from a three way tie) at Paganello only losing two pool games to Team Belgium and JetSet in sudden death; their first competitive game. In the process beating France, Belgium (placement game) and previous finalists Corocotta. They will also attend the UK beach tournament Sunburn in June (ED: which they won beating open teams on the way) to finally hone their team tactics and get those all important plays straight. If this team can keep their heads on straight and play their own game expect to see them in quarters. From there who knows what could happen.
GB Mixed (Gold Blend) at Paganello 2013. Photo courtesy of Get Horizontal.

Masters

The GB Masters team brings together a considerable amount of beach pedigree, with many of the team having played in (and in some occasions won) Paganello finals.  After bracing the less than mediterranean conditions at a snowy Poole trial last November, a squad has been picked that offers plenty in relevant experience, as well as a wealth of past club connections. Dave Bixler has come over from the recent open squad to a position of captaincy amongst the masters. Rob McGowan and Simon Weeks will have invaluable competition experience after they took a Worlds gold with the Mixed Masters in 2011. Brothers Sion and Elias Thaysen bring an added dimension of danger to the team in the form of a fraternal connection that has alone frustrated many teams in the past. With the addition of formidable experience as well as past successes at a european club level from players such as Captain Dave Grayson, Dave Barnard and Stu Mitchell, (all of whom won gold at xEUCF 2009 with Chevron), the masters must be approaching ECBU with aims of nothing short of Gold. As they did last year in preparation for Japan, the masters will be playing the open squad at their upcoming training weekend – last year age prevailed over beauty as the masters famously came out on top of the grudge match, and with such a strong squad they will surely be looking to repeat this upset on their way to Callafel.



Mixed Masters

At WCBU 2011 Great Britain came out as champions in the Mixed Masters division being one of the only European teams to ever beat a North American team. The team going to Calafell this year looks to take this strength even further. They may have lost Si Weeks, Rob McGowan (the stars) as well as the experienced Wayne Davey and Jack Goolden to Open or retirement. However they have filled their spots with youngsters Al Harding and Jon Aaron who have the disc skills and defensive awareness to play an important role. True masters of the game Jason DeCicco, Mike Palmer and Steve Balls will hold the O line together once again. On the women’s side Maria Cahill brings great experience and handling skills to the team, complimented by the likes of Worlds veterans Rougier, Snell, Thomas and Byrne this team will be a force to be reckoned with.
By the time ECBU starts, they will have had 5/6 try-outs/training sessions, and two preparation tournaments: they played at the Monte Gordo Invitational as two separate teams, coming 3rd and 5th. They will also be at Sunburn playing alongside the Mixed team just before Calafell.
Going in as number one seed will be a great boost for this team and with minimal loss from Worlds you can’t see much going wrong. The rest of Europe will really have to play it’s sand socks off to beat this lot.
GB Mixed Masters at Copa Del Soul 2013. Photo courtesy of Kristina Cernusakova.

Grand Masters

Captained and anchored by ex-Chevron palyers Steven Kennedy (who captained the squad in 2011) and Simon Barlow, this year’s GB Grand Masters have seen a considerable increase in applicants compared to past years, and with this increase in competitivity at trials they are confident that they have been able to pick a team of competitors able to help them secure gold. Building on the foundations of past GB beach teams with notable additions of Wayne Davey and Jack Goolden (both of whom featured on the successful GB Mixed Masters squad at WCBU 2011), as well as ex-Chevron and GB Open captain Harry Golby, this team boasts that their top 5 could take on of the other squads’ best lines. 2011 saw a disappointing campaign for the Grand Masters (they placed 5th of 5, winning only 1 of 9 games), but this comes from a division that admittedly has one of the smallest player pools to draw from in the country. However, thanks to a continuing expansion of the UK scene, this year sees a team with much higher ambitions who hope to use ECBU 2013 as a stepping stone to 2015 where they have their eyes on bigger, and specifically North American game.
GB Grand Masters at Copa Del Soul 2013. Photo Courtesy of Andrew Moss.

Women’s Masters

A new division to the beach championships, the women’s masters competition only has four teams – GB, France, Germany and the casual European Islands. But despite its small size, going ahead with the division will lay the groundwork for a bright future of women’s masters events, much like the small women’s masters division last year in Japan at WUGC 2012.
Eight of the twelve players on the GB women’s masters squad played together in Japan, including captain Felicity Perry and vice captain Linz Wilkinson. They are joined by former GB women’s captain and all-round UK ultimate legend Gemma Taylor. The squad is composed of a core of LLLeeds women that know each other well, as well as additions from the rosters of Bristol and SYC.
Further to this, nine members of the GB women’s masters team will be playing UK women’s tour together this year as R.O.B.O.T: Really Old Birds On Tour, a women’s masters team. The team is targeting the top 8 bracket and with two tour events to play ahead of ECBU, this will afford them plenty of opportunities to gel together. The team will also be playing at UK beach tournament Copa del Sol in preparation.
In such a small and new division, results are difficult to predict. The team played Paganello earlier this year in the women’s division and finished 9/10, but it is not easy to draw conclusions from this. With many members of the team playing at top level, it would not be hard to see this team making the women’s masters final – and having a great time doing it.


Follow every squad on twitter

All the feeds (if hashtagged properly) will appear on the live page. #ECBU2013 #GBR #OPN #WMN #MIX #MAS #GRM #WMM #MXM

Let’s go GB!! DP @ tSG.