Peel region's Australian pétanque champions

A TEAM of Mandurah and Rockingham pétanque players returned from Sydney recently as the 2015 Australian Women’s Triples Pétanque Champion-ship winners.

Helen Bayet, Hina Vert and Shirley Waters, all members of the Safety Bay Pétanque Club, decided to enter the national competition after winning the State Triples crown in March last year.

Pétanques is similar to boccé in which competitors must throw metal balls as close as possible to a small ball usually on a dirt surface.

Games are won when a team makes it to 13 points.

Vert, 31, the youngest in the team by some 30 years, said she was confident the team had what it would take to win the title played in Bexley, New South Wales.

“I knew we were going to win, I just had a feeling,” Vert said.

Bayet and Waters were more reserved heading into the competition.

“We knew it was going to be a tough competition,” Bayet said. “It’s played at a better standard than the state competition.”

The local team went through the pool stage having lost just one game.

The winner happened to be the same team they would face in the grand final.

“They had beaten us convincingly in the morning 13-2 and hadn’t lost a game,” Waters said.

However the result meant little with the Mandurah and Rockingham players starting the grand final in scintillating form.

“At the first end we got four points,” Bayet said. “It’s always hard playing catch up.”

The team went on to win convincingly with Vert scoring the winning point.

“It was a great feeling,” Vert said. “I celebrated pretty hard.”

The team said they hoped to defend their title at the next championships.

Vert was also the runner up in the shooters competition and, along with Bayet, was selected in a team of six to represent Australia in the Oceania Championship, which will be held in Vanuatu later this year.

Bayet, who has played for 20 years, said pétanque was a good sport for everyone, in particular those people who can’t take part in very active sports anymore.

“I got involved through my husband who is French,” she said. “He played with his French friends and after a while they formed a club.”

Waters became involved in pétanque somewhat by chance after a trip to South Australia.

She said she was travelling around Australia in 2005 with her husband Merv and happened to see a pétanque competition being played in Victoria Harbour, South Australia, of which Bayet was a part.

“Merv asked what was going on and said we were from Western Australia so they pointed us to Helen,” Waters said. “I didn’t think I wanted to play it at first. I thought it would be boring but after a while we went down and I have been playing ever since.”

Vert has played pétanque for as long as she can remember.

“My dad [who is French] was a champion player,” she said. “I started playing when I was eight but stopped when I was 19.”

“I only returned a couple of years ago and am more passionate then I have ever been.”

If anyone would like to get involved in pétanque they can call Shirley Waters on 9534 8347.