Medieval fans amass in Upper Hutt

20:39, Feb 16 2013
Archer Eliott Thompson, from Waihi, takes part in the tournament at Harcourt Park, Upper Hutt.
David Cullum uses a tree as support while Minuette LaMontagne tightens the belt on his amour.
A contestant is masked by his jousting helmet.
Sarah Hay, from Sydney, takes a blow.
Jousting at the medieval tournament at Harcourt Park, Upper Hutt, are Anders Fernstedt from Sweden, left, and Fred Piraux from Belgium.
Sweden's Anders Fernstedt, left, and Sydney's Sarah Hay trade blows.
Contestants are pictured suited in armour at the medieval tournament at Harcourt Park, Upper Hutt.
A victorious contestant celebrates the downfall of their rival.

It was an era when men were gallant and fought for maidens fair.

But when medieval warfare came to Upper Hutt yesterday, Aussie sheila Sarah Hay was more than a match for the local knights.

The 43-year-old was mixing it with the men and nursing a nasty bruise on her leg from an errant jousting lance that had snuck through her armour, when the Sunday Star-Times caught up with her.

"It's OK, I've hit guys in the knackers before. It happens." she said.

Jousting was "my total passion" she said. "I'm so pumped right now. It's such a rush. Every pass is deadly serious, because potentially every pass is dangerous."

Hay has been riding horses all her life. She is the current Australian jousting champion and top-ranked female in the world.


There were no problems jousting with men, she said. "We all compete as equals. We all respect a good horse rider."

Up to 10,000 turned out to watch the spectacle of the World Invitational Jousting Tournament - the seventh time Upper Hutt has hosted the event.

For organiser Callum Forbes, donning a full suit of armour and thundering towards another horseman with a wooden lance is a personal passion.

"I've always been interested in martial arts, medieval history, and horse riding, and this brings everything together into one activity." The armour weighs up to 40kg, and costs about $7000.

The event drew international jousters from Sweden, Belgium, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

American reality television show Full Metal Jousting has helped the resurgence of interest in the sport.

Upper Hutt's involvement was showcased when CNN Travel selected the tournament as one of the best in the world.

Events included the Battle of Nations, a live-action full-contact battle that pitted a team of Australians against the Kiwis. There were also archery demonstrations and a medieval tent village offering crafts and refeshments.

Sunday Star Times