Christophe Auvert’s winning score was two short of perfect at the 33rd World FITASC and the GB Ladies, Vets and Super Vets brought the gold back home
Once a battleground of the First World War, the Somme region of northern France and its beautiful arable farmland, was the perfect location for the 2011 World FITASC championships on the anniversary of the nation’s revolution – Bastille Day.
Local course-setter Jean-Pierre Delsaux, was given the task of setting the 200-bird layout across the versatile, rolling, mine-scarred terrain at Orville, creating eight memorable layouts for the record entry of 1,197 competitors, who travelled from around the globe.
Over the first day of shooting, with all competitors to start and complete their rounds according to a precision schedule, there was just one man who set the first two layouts alight shooting a 50-straight – France’s Christophe Auvert.
Nearest him was fellow countryman Sylvain Sorgiati and Britain’s Richard Faulds MBE on 49 each with several positioned behind on 48. Day two and the mark stage saw a milestone: nothing short of a brilliant 100-straight from Christophe Auvert. Second place was filled by France’s Charles Bardouo on 98 making it a fitting end to France’s Bastille Day celebrations – undoubtedly there would be more fireworks to celebrate that evening.
Amongst the four following on 97 were Britain’s Richard Faulds MBE and Graham Stirzaker, who also led the Veterans Class. George Parsons was leading the Super Veterans on 87 and Cheryl Hall was one target off the lead in the Ladies with 90; Phil Gray was holding third in the Juniors.
In the team events, the GB Ladies, Vets and Super Vets were all in gold medal positions in some cases with just a few clays to hand following Thursday and Friday’s shooting rounds, with our Seniors and Juniors still fighting it out in fourth positions.
As the final 100-bird leg got underway, the weather decided to become less like summer and more like November back home; those caught in a late rotation on Saturday were not in for a pleasant 50 targets. The lack of waterproof score cards also hampered proceedings and George Digweed was reported to have said he had never before shot in such miserable conditions.
Apart from the terrible driving and torrential rain, negotiating the slippery walkways around the steep-sided craters was lethal, and falls were frequent – one requiring an ambulance with a paralysing back injury affecting Rick Stalla, who was shipped to the nearest hospital where he thankfully made a speedy recovery, eventually regaining full feeling in his legs enabling him to walk again.
Despite the conditions, the world title was still up for grabs as mutterings were circulating that Auvert had missed a complete pair on his first peg on Tunet on day three – purely because he had set himself up for the wrong targets.
Bardou still held contention in second on 145 and Faulds on 143. As conditions eased a little on the final day, the mud-caked ground and trench-scarred car park proved as tricky to negotiate as the last 50 targets of the competition.
But there was no mistaking the winner of the World Championship; France’s Christophe Auvert emerged from the battlefield with a near-perfect score of 198 taking home another brilliant straight on his final 50.
Fellow Frenchman Charles Bardou took silver on 193 and Anthony Matarese, USA, finished with bronze on 191+20 after a shoot-off with Greg Wolf, USA, on 191+17.
In the Ladies event Cheryl Hall, 179, had to step aside for an incredible performance from Spain’s Beatrice Laparra Cuenca who shot 186 and Janine Preece took bronze with 174.
In the Veteran Class, Graham Stirzaker took the World Championship title with 190 and John Bidwell took bronze. Super Veteran, George Parsons’ 175 gave him the World Championship title with Roger Ward taking silver on 170. In the teams there were three gold medals to be brought home – Ladies, Veterans and Super Veterans. And in the World Cup event, seasoned FITASC supporter John Price won his first gold in the Veterans with other Brits also doing well.