Thursday, 30 August 2012

Catalonia’s Best Human Towers at ‘Sant Fèlix’ in Vilafranca del Penedès

What great human towers (castells) we saw in Vilafranca del Penedès (Barcelona) today! At the beginning of the annual Diada de Sant Fèlix – held in honour of the town’s patron Saint and as a part of the Festa Major celebrations – we were all crossing our fingers, because there was a drizzle in the air, which actually turned into rain when – in the first round - the turn came to Castellers de Vilafranca. However, when the "green team" ("Els Verds") defied the weather gods and initiated what was to become their best exhibition ever, the rain stopped!

After opening with the traditional 4d9a, Verds followed up with a 3d9a and before finishing it all off with a Pd8, in the third round the made a 2d8 “net” – i.e. without an additional support structure on the second level - a human tower which has only been build four times throughout history (all four by this team). Summing up these results – with all four constructions being of the highest difficulty level (“gamma extra”), the local team ended up on par with their own Tots Sants exhibition 2010, considered the best performance ever seen among casteller teams.

Among the other teams, Colla Vella dels Xiquets de Valls impressed us all by crowning (but not completing; castell carregat, not desgarraget) the “gamma extra5d9f, this on top of completing 3d9f, 4d9f and Pd6.

Minyons de Terrassa made an attempt with the “gamma extra2d9fm, but the children hesitated and it fell apart while being dismantled. There end result was therefore 3d9, 4d9, 5d8 and two pillars of five levels.

The fourth team, Colla Jove Xiquets de Tarragona, were new for this year – replacing Colla Joves Xiquets de Valls - and completed 3d9, 4d9, 5d8 and 3 pillars of five levels.

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Personally, since I follow Bordegassos de Vilanova hands-on (quite literally!) I fully appreciate how difficult it is and how long a time it takes for a casteller team to improve. Having said, while I love Castellers de Vilafranca for all great constructions they show us, I cannot help feeling a bit sad that no other team can really challenge them.

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By the way: Before I reached the square plaça de la Vila of Vilafranca del Penedès today, the Falcons de Vilafranca – the acrobatic version of human towers typical for Penedès – had completed a human pillar of six levels lifted up into the air (pilar de 6 aixecat per sota). Unbelievably impressive! I do not know what they eat for breakfast in Vilafranca but would not mind a portion of it! ;)

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Do you want to see a human towers? At Discover Penedès you will find up-dated information in English about all exhibitions in Vilafranca del Penedès and the rest of the comarques Alt Penedès, Baix Penedès, Garraf and Anoia.

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Do you want to go to the most spectacular regular event there is in the world of castells? Saturday and Sunday October 6-7 this year, the bi-annual Concurs de Castells will yet again be organised in the old bull fighting arena of Tarragona. “My team”, Bordegassos de Vilanova will be there on the Saturday, while Castellers de Vilafranca will be challenged by the other top teams on the Sunday.

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Read more in Catalan - El Punt / Avui - or Spanish - LaVanguardia.

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