New-look Jack High a winner for Beaumaris
Beaumaris Bowls Club continues to make impressive inroads into the tournament scene with the continuing revival of its famous Jack High brand.
Its Melbourne Cup Day tournament, now in its second year, carries the legacy of the club’s landmark Jack High Mazda International Bowls Tournament, which ran from 1981 to 1985 and drew exceptional TV ratings for the ABC.
The 21st century version, the Jack High Cup Day Super Pairs, featured 28 top quality teams battling it out for a total prize pool of $7000.
The tournament featured Barrie Lester, currently ranked Australia’s No.1 male bowler, along with the highly credentialed Dylan Fisher, Over 60s Victorian representatives Ray Jansen, Graeme Spencer and Beaumaris’ own Graeme Rodgers, plus a host of players who have achieved state, national and Commonwealth Games status. The initial tournament in 2016 was won by New Zealand superstar Ali Forsyth.
“The quality of our fields indicates that we are very serious about building this tournament into a major event on the Australian bowls calendar,” Beaumaris Club Chairman Terry Cole told Heads Up.
The original Jack High featured local and international stars including England’s David Bryant, arguably the greatest to ever step onto a rink. He took on quality Australian, Scottish and New Zealand talent such as Ron Taylor, Keith Poole, John Snell, Willie Wood, Peter Bellis and Rob Parrella, who many bowls fans will remember as one of the more serious users of the full-blooded drive.
“They featured in some classic matches, becoming must viewing not only for bowls players throughout Australia but attracting a wider audience as well,” Mr Cole said. “As a consequence, the series put our club on the map.”
But he added that while the new tournament honours the club’s past it was important to look to its future.
“The original Jack High was singles play, whereas our new-look version provides the intriguing concept of pairs, adding the elements of team play and communication to individual performance, thus heightening the whole experience for both players and audience,” Mr Cole said.
Mr Cole praised club coach Matt Kurta and tournament director Malcolm Parks for assembling such a high standard of player, with Parks ensuring the day went smoothly and as a result spectators being entertained by a very high standard of bowling.
As it turned out, it was a big day for Kurta. He and partner Luke Aiello won their three preliminary rounds of 11 ends, plus a semi-final, to reach the final against
the pairing of Beaumaris team-mate Andrew Penaluna and Lilydale’s John Sanders. Penaluna had earlier cruelled Barrie Lester’s chances of making the finals by beating his team in a round-robin clash.
After a tough encounter over five ends, Kurta and Aiello went on to win the final.
During the day the club provided a carnival atmosphere for fans, using its Founders Garden for a barbecue and refreshments, and pausing for the broadcast of the Melbourne Cup.
Chair of the Club’s Bowls Section, Lizzie Boucher, said she had been delighted with the players’ response to the unique tournament.
“Clearly, building this event from scratch has been challenging,” she said.
“We have learnt a lot in the two years and are excited at the prospect of making this a ‘must-attend’ feature of the Bowls calendar in the future. Just like those who preceded us at Beaumaris, we are aiming high.”