Portland Petanque Club hosts 10th Annual ‘Rose City Open’

Learn more about this outdoor sport that is enjoyed in East Portland all year long, yes, even in the winter …

Games are underway at the Portland Petanque Club during their 10th Annual Rose City Open tournament.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

Once again this year, the Portland Petanque Club hosted the Rose City Open tournament – their tenth annual – in the north corner of Westmoreland Park on September 9, to the delight of players gathered from around the country.

They share the space with the Portland Lawn Bowling Club, whose bowling green is just to the south of the gravel-covered petanque courts.

Explaining the French game, with a cochonnet in one hand, and his boules in his other, ths is Portland Petanque Club founder Joe Martin.

“This park is actually one of the better places to play petanque, because of the ‘terrain’ – what this graveled play area is called – and because of the clubhouse,” remarked Portland Petanque Club founder Joe Martin at the tournament.

“I’m one of the founders; we started the club 20 years ago, and we’ve grown the membership to about 100 players,” Martin said with pride.

Pitching his boule, here’s Abdou Komate, who says he learned the game in Senegal, and now lives in New York.

“At this year’s tournament, we’ve had players from all along the West Coast – from New York – and I think we may have Florida players as well! 38 teams of two players,” Martin said.

So, this French-originated game has, for a decade, found its American home at Westmoreland Park in Southeast Portland. But how do you play it…?

The game in a nutshell
Petanque is similar to lawn bowling, bocce, and skittles, Martin explained. “It’s all about trying to get a big ball next to – or, as close as possible – to a small ball.

“Each petanque player has three steel balls each; we call them boules,” Martin continued. “We also have the wooden ‘piglet’ – more properly, the ‘cochonnet’, or simply ‘jack’.  The idea is to get your steel ball next a little wooden ball. If you get it close, the other team players try to get closer to the small ball, or try to knock it away – in a way, like croquet, but without the mallets.”

Winning a game of petanque can come down to millimeters; this player is measuring his boule’s distance from the cochonnet.

Year-around play
“This is an outdoor sport and we play year-’round, even when it’s real drizzly – but if there’s an ‘atmospheric river’ and it’s really pouring rain, no,” Martin conceded. “But, we have played in the snow, because we enjoy playing all year long.”

The Portland Petanque Club always welcomes those new to the sport, and they’ll provide training and boules for you to play while learning, without any cost or obligation. You’ll find them out playing on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays starting at 11 a.m. For more information, see their website: CLICK HERE.

© 2024 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News™

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