Paganello Pleasure Principle

I’m sitting here at work gently reflecting on what a wonderful Easter weekend I’ve just spent playing Beach Ultimate on the beaches of Rimini at the 16th edition of Paganello. My colleagues have politely asked why I seem so happy and sun kissed; whenever I try to explain how amazing Paganello is I fail and the best clue I can provide is the smile which spreads as I replay the memories. If you’ve never been then just for one moment consider the size and spectacle of the thing: 103 teams across 4 divisions (Open, Women, Mixed and for the first time Juniors), playing who knows how many games on 15 beautiful sandy beaches under sunny skies. How good does that sound?!
First up an apology: I had promised that I’d blog daily updates during Paganello. There was so much fun to be had that I quite simply forgot- sorry. I remembered when I bumped in to Patrick van der Valk playing for SeXXXpensive against Catch 22 on pitch 11 in our teams’ final power pool game on Sunday morning. They gave us a fairly good stuffing under the only cloudy skies of the whole weekend. No matter- both teams were already through to the quarters but our loss meant we faced the upcoming Freespeed whilst the SeXXXy boys went on to lose their quarter to the Swedish Stinks. Catch 22 managed to just sneak past the young and quick Freespeed, due in no small part to a defensive mack which a Freespeed player managed to get without getting the D in the sudden death point which decided the game. This brought us to our semi on the beach arena against the impressive No Tsu Oh from Houston, USA. Paganello’s own daily news sheet- The Talking Fish- (which does an ace job of covering multiple games per day) simply described this match as ‘a thing of beauty’. Despite needing a turnover at sudden death, Houston managed to sneak out as 12-11 victors in a hugely entertaining high quality game with only 2 turnovers per team. Special mention should go to the twin broad sword combo of the Simons Hill and Weeks. In the game’s stand-out moment the former threw a big hammer to the latter for a seriously impressive low level layout one handed goal which drew gasps of astonishment from the packed stands. This was your correspondent’s first Paga semi but some of our team’s fourth loss at this stage- despite how comfortable we felt playing at this level we are in danger of becoming known as perennial bridesmaids unless we close out the deal by winning the whole thing some time soon. Whilst some of our opponents lost no time in spicing their condolences with this observation ( ;-)), the fickle nature of success at Paga is perhaps best underlined by the fates of last years open finalists : local boys Cota Rica and Collard Greens over from Atlanta, US who despite playing good disc finished in 11th and 9th places respectively.
Rocky from SeXXXpensive was heard to remark that whilst any team that wins Paga must be good they should also be lucky. In fact the overall level of play in all divisions seems to be improving year on year. JuPiter from Russia took Houston to sudden death in early pool play whilst Catch had a very hard game against the relatively lowly placed Salutami (16th). Just walking round between games there was often no need to cherry pick good spectating: witness the Sublime (UK 15th place) – Peyote Power (Belgium 33rd place) game in round one which was a good example of a game between two young teams showing spectacular D and precise long huck offence.
Another thing that struck a few of us whilst wandering along the beach was the wildly differing Paganello experiences of each team. Whilst some of the top teams gunning for glory would truly only let their hair down once they were knocked out (Stinks, Catch) other top teams had a more relaxed approach to their pursuit of sandy success (Scandal, SeXXXpensive, Horned Melons, and Carbomb). One only needed to pop your head in to one of the parties to see that not all the action was beach based. The opening beach party with “volcanic pasta”, copious red wine and stunning fireworks is always a delight with meeting old friends and making new ones a fitting prelude to the next day’s on pitch action. The Friday night party in the big top on the beach featured some truly stunning freestyle routines and some memorable costumes befitting the “National Stereotypes” theme. The Tyrolean lederhosen and Indian Saris were nicely set off against some (un)intentional sunburnt drunken Englishmen 😉 and a solitary Gandhi.
I can’t quite remember which night I got lost walking home from the party but I can recall what great fun watching the finals day was. Ranging across two pitch length 15 deep stands and packed 4 to 5 deep at each end zone, the crowd must have numbered over 2000. An enthusiastic mix of tired Frisbee players and Italians resplendent in their Easter Monday finery were treated to some great Ultimate with spectacular D, precise offence and inexplicable drops (yes even the best players make some howlers). An oompah band warmed the crowd up with some tunes as they wandered among the throngs many of whom were now relaxing with cold beers and fine pizza. The varied styles of Ultimate across the three main finals show that there is more than one way to skin a cat or indeed to win an Ultimate game. Some preferred low risk short games in working the disc to and fro whilst waiting for the chance to make a clinical score. The main style on show was that of deeps working in tandem off the handlers with one player coming short to receive the disk who would then make a long flat pass to a long legged deep running to the zone for a score. This is a spectacular crowd pleaser and was certainly encouraged by the warm conditions with relatively light winds. Another feature that was noticeable was the huge pulls, especially from Houston, which often allowed the defensive players to run up field under the disc and to mark up the handlers before the offensive play really got going.
In the Mixed Final two-time winners Horned Melons sneeked through in sudden death against Paga favourites Huck Finn and celebrated their victory by making a raucous full team bundle on the score catcher. The Womens’ final saw 6 time winners Bliss take on Paga virgins Ayers Frocks, from Australia with a healthy smattering of Brits spicing the Aussie mix. Both teams played some fine disc but to our little section of the crowd it looked as if the Aussie girls wanted the victory that little bit more. Some great D and point blocks from the Bliss girls were not enough to prevent Ayers Frocks from playing some intense Ultimate in pulling off a surprisingly comfortable 13-8 win. Could it be that the pressure of performing to their reputation got to some of the Bliss squad? That may be specualtion but whatever the case due respect should be given to Ayers Frocks for winning on their first attempt. In the Open final No Tsu Oh did not seem to be at their spectacular best in beating the Swedish Stinks who probably felt they were up against it with only 7 fit men and one team mate in plaster prowling the sideline. For a while it looked as if Houston’s big men would run away with the title but Stinks put up brave resistance to avoid their score being doubled. One should not deny Houston the recognition of their 5th Paga victory but maybe the main point to note is that perhaps Swedish Ultimate has finally woken up to the pleasure of playing disc and partying on the beaches of Paganello. At the very least we should expect more strong Swedish and Scandinavian teams in all divisions over the coming years. Perhaps the final word should go to Houston who in thanking Jumpi described Paganello as “the best Ultimate Tournament in the world”. If you’ve not been yet why don’t you find out for yourself whether this is true?
See you on a beach some time and at Paganello next year.
p.s. for comprehensive results and copies of Paganello’s very own Talking Fish daily news letter see


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