Written by Will Germany
Every year, hundreds of fencers descend on Sheffield for the BUCS individual championships, a competition designed to find the best and brightest individual fencing talents. With league fixtures being team-based, something many fencers only experience once they begin competing at university level, the individual championships is a refreshing throwback to the style of competition many fencers experienced when forging their careers on the cadet and junior national circuits. All events were held over the course of the weekend, with a high quality of fencing displayed from all fencers from the University of Bath.
Friday saw the mens’ sabre competition. All Bath fencers survived the cut into the Direct Elimination rounds, achieving byes to the Last-64. Sabre is a fast and furious cutting weapon with a target area everywhere above the waist, making it an excellent spectator sport. In the elimination rounds, Matt Hudson fenced well, showing why he had been selected to represent Guernsey at the Commonwealth fencing championships, but unfortunately bowed out in the Last-64. Noah Rogerson and Stuart Scott, showing the same red-hot form that had earned them call ups to the British Under-20s national team, both defeated their opponents 15-0 before reaching the Last 16. There, Noah, after an explosive fight, bowed out in nerve wracking fashion 14-15, finishing 10th overall. Stuart Scott, in another close fight, couldn’t quite overcome his opponent, losing out 12-15 to finish 14th.
The next day saw the men’s foil and women’s epee competitions. The tip of a foil is the 2nd fastest moving object in Olympic sport, behind a bullet, and when watching foil it is easy to see why. In a particularly strong field, 6 Bath fencers participated, with 5 out of the 6 making it through to the elimination stages. Unfortunately 3 bowed out in the round of 128, fencing well but unable to catch their opponents. Credit must go to Matt Hale and James Wilkinson who narrowly lost in close fights after running their opponents right to the wire. Still left in was Alex Fernandez Grande who unfortunately drew teammate Stuart Scott in the 64. In a good humoured fight, Alex, the natural foilist defeated Stuart to advance. He then met one of the top seeded fencers left in the competition. The fight was close, Alex showing several examples of the lovely bladework he possesses. Unfortunately he couldn’t seize the win, losing to the fencer who went on to finish 3rd. In the Women’s epee competition, Madi Bond and Jess Varley both fenced commendably, Madi being unfortunate to miss out on qualifying by a single place – despite fencing with an injured shin. Jess qualified for the elimination rounds, and fencing a highly experienced and knowledgeable opponent sadly bowed out in the Last-64 stage.
The third and final day saw the male epeeists competing. Epee is a thrusting weapon, and the target area is everywhere on the body. Epee matches, are often regarded as a game of chess, trying to manoeuver yourself into advantageous situations and forcing your opponent to commit an error. Of the 2 Bath fencers competing, both made it through to the elimination rounds. There, James Male sadly bowed out in last 64 after a highly contested fight. Will Germany managed to reach the Last 32 stage, but sadly couldn’t hold his nerve against his opponent, losing a tight fight 11-12.
After three days of high class fencing, the final results across all weapons show real promise, an encouraging sign for the league season next year. Congratulations to all of the fencers who took part – here’s to the 2015/16 season!