Au fer

I used to be a “raspailleur” and now, inspired by Marco Foyot’s preaching, I an aspiring to become a “ferrailleur”.

For the pros, there is big distinction between these two types of “gunslingers”.
A “raspailleur” is a mere journeyman, while a “ferrailleur” is a prince among “petanqueurs”.

A “raspailleur” is somebody who shoots by throwing his boule along the ground prior to hitting his target. It works, but this method has obvious limitations. If anything stands between the shooter and his target, the would-be shooter is incapable of hitting his target
But above all, shooting “à la raspaille” is frowned upon by purists.

A “ferrailleur” on the other hand is somebody who shoots “au fer” (iron to iron), and unlike a lowly “raspailleur” his peers hold him in high regard.
It probably took him years of assiduous efforts to acquire his nobility papers, but once a blue blood always a blue blood.

As I previously said, my epiphany was prompted by Marco Foyot’s preaching.
“Go forth and multiply,” he said to his followers, and as one of his apostle I could do nothing but obey.

Once you start shooting “au fer”, you cannot revert shooting “a la raspaille”.
If you do, it would be like switching back to hamburger after having tasted “filet mignon”.

After achieving a “carreau” a “ferrailleur” is allowed to strut (not too much though) or even take a bow. It would a bad “faux-pas” for a “raspailleur” to indulge in such a thing.

A slo-mo video of a “carreau” is a thing of beauty. The boule rises slowly in the air, hangs for a second in space before reversing its course and streaking back to earth.
As it is approaching its target, it accelerates and finally hits its mark with a highly satisfying sound.

The king of carreaux is a “carreau sur place”, when the attacking boule hits its target squarely on the head, dislodges it and take its place.

Well fellow Boulomanes, have mercy on me but I want to do this.
I want to be in the number of the pros who can do this.

Oh when the pros go marching in
When the pros go marching in
Oh lord I want to be in that number
When the pros go marching in

On that hallelujah day
On that hallelujah day
Oh lord I want to be in that number
When the pros go marching in

Alain La Foudre


The Foyot gravitational pull effect

I don’t know if it is my beautiful prose, my glorious photos or the “Foyot gravitational pull effect” but in the last two days my blog has registered over 400 visitors and I am still wondering what caused this stampede.

Needless to say that I am very happy about this turn of events, but again I am curious about what caused this sudden surge of interest for my humble little blog.
Is it suddenly turning into a major pilgrimage site because Marco Foyot’s name was motioned there?

I am pretty sure that Marco’s charisma had a lot to do with it, but is it the only reason?
If it is, I want the awesome-twosome (Marco and Bernard) to come visit as often as possible.

IMG_3068 - Version 2If it is not, could it be my photographic skills?
I always aim for candid shots, trying to catch subjects when they least expect it, when they are the most natural. An outstanding shot is rare and often unexpected. That’s why when I return from a shooting expedition I rush to upload all my shots to my computer to see if I caught any gem.

I haste to add that I will never intentionally publish unflattering shots and will always destroy unattractive photos.
As a matter of fact I always agonize over what to keep and what to publish. Generally speaking, I keep less than one third of all my shots and discard the rest.

So, everything taken in account, I surmise that this outpouring of interest was caused by Marco Foyot and his supernatural powers.

Not bad for a guy who practically never uttered a single word of English in front of a mainly Anglo audience.
Like Jesus, he seemed to walk on water and performed a few miraculous shots to dazzle the faithful. Personally I will always remember an extraordinarily accurate “plombée” and a few beautiful “spin” shots.
Marco didn’t resurrect anybody, but he came close to it.

He did for pétanque last Sunday in Sonoma what Federer did for tennis at Wimbledon.
Infuse his audience with enthusiasm for the game and generate a burning desire for excellence.

We all ought to be thankful for that.

Alain La Foudre


En attendant Foyot

I first met Marco Foyot a few days ago at a little barbecue sponsored by the Valley of the Moon Pétanque Club and organized by Shannon Bowman.
I had read about him but did not know what to expect since the man portrayed in the media is often markedly different from the real person.

When I first saw him I was surprised by the sheer size of the man. He is a big guy!
I would guestimate him to be at least a six-footer and weighing 250 pounds, probably more.
When he walks into a room he usually towers above the other people, especially me.

Unlike some snotty stars, he is approachable, friendly and eager to talk about his passion: pétanque. He is a pétanque preacher.
He is quite good at it and you can tell by his demeanor that he is used to make speeches and public appearances.

Even though he knows very little English, he is quite articulate when speaking in his native tongue, and most of the people who don’t speak French get the gist of what he is saying.
He is passionate about pétanque and makes an excellent ambassador for this unique sport.

IMG_8632 - Version 2On Sunday, in Sonoma, Marco was definitely the star of the show. His white mane and his stature set him immediately apart.
Like on all of his North American tour appearances he gave “pétanque clinics” and since I could use some advice myself, I signed up for one of his classes.

When playing pétanque, Marco stresses the right stand (crouching when pointing and standing when shooting) and extending your arm when throwing a boule.
Especially when shooting, many people have a tendency to “undershoot’ so that their ball lands in front of the target boule instead of hitting it squarely (“au fer“).
The main reason: people fail to raise their arm high enough.

Marco stressed the importance and the advantage of a “Devant de Boule” (boule in front) versus the ineffective “boule derrière” (boule behind the cochonnet).

With the help of some clever props, he demonstrated the “demi-portée” (half-lob) and the “portée”.
The “Half-Lob” is when a boule lands halfway from “Le Rond”  (the starting circle) and the cochonnet, and rolls towards the cochonnet.
“La Portée” is when the boule lands into the last third of the distance between Le Rond and the cochonnet and rolls gently toward the cochonnet.

La Plombée” is a handy shot using a high lob to land your boule close to the cochonnet. The forward momentum of the boule is deadened by its impact and the boule stops almost immediately.

Marco demonstrated his uncanny ability by throwing his boule about 12 feet in the air and landing it about three inches from the cochonnet.
He took well-deserved bows.

He also demonstrated the way to spin a ball  when opposing boules block the path to the cochonnet; the thrown boule spins either to the right or the left and stops in the close vicinity of the cochonnet.

With a few well-turned shots, Marco demonstrated why he is one of the best players in the world.

Since Marco speaks very little English, he was assisted by his friend (“mon frère”) Bernard Martin and by local Robert Dunn who (to my surprise) did an excellent translating job. Bravo Robert!

The class ended around noon and everybody gathered around the picnic tables to share sausages and sauerkraut prepared by chef Dan Fluhardy.

We were supposed to celebrate  “Oktober Fest” but I saw only one single guy wearing “lederhosen”. A pity!

At this point, I need to say how much I admire the cooperation shown by all the VOMPC members. It seemed that everybody lent a hand to make this event a success.

Patrick Vaslet whose excellent French and English made him a natural escort accompanied the awesome-twosome everywhere throughout their stay.

Frank Pipal, Peter Wellington, Mike Cooper, Joe La Torre, Shannon Bowman, Carlos Couto and Etienne Rijkheer also participated in one way or the other.

Let’s not forget the instrumental role of Ed Porto who fought hard to bring Marco Foyot to the United States.
Thank you Ed for bringing Marco to the US.

Marco’s grueling fifty-five days (September 27-November 8) tour of North America is not for the faint-hearted.
It started in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and will end in Amelia Island, Florida.
It is extremely demanding and despite the appearances extremely taxing. It takes a lot of heart and stamina to bring it to a successful conclusion

I am pretty sure that mister Foyot will be glad to return to France to take a well-deserved rest.

I think that Marco’s visit to Sonoma was a resounding success and did a lot to promote pétanque in North America.
We need more men like him to make pétanque in America as common as apple-pie.

Merci monsieur Foyot for a job well done or as the locals would say, “give me five dude!”

Alain La Foudre

PS: To look at pictures of this event, turn the sound on, click on the “Home” link at the top of the page, and click again on “My photos” located on the right side of the page.

Kudos to Tamara for taking many shots of this series. If I am in the the picture, you can be sure that Tamara took it!