By Mort Luby, Jr.
WHEN THE QubicaAMF BOWLING WORLD CUP OPENS in Toulon on the French Riviera in November, it will mark the third time that the sport’s premier international singles event has visited France. The two previous editions certainly had their own distinctive Gallic styles. (story continues below picture gallery)
The 1967 tournament was staged at Bowling de Paris in the heart of the Bois de Boulogne, a 2,000-acre park near the center of Paris that was once the hunting preserve of French kings. The bowling center, situated in the Jardin d’Acclimation amusement park, was unique in many ways, not the least of which was a horse stable that was attached to the main building. The proprietor was fond of early morning canters through the surrounding woods.
The BWC’s next French adventure was held in 1992 in LeMans, a charming, ancient town populated mostly by some 150,000 car buffs. The fabled 24 Hours of LeMans sports car race has been held there since 1923.
The LeMans BWC also had some interesting local touches. The bowlers were treated to a huge blast from the past, for example, when the proprietor arranged a parade of classic race cars, many of them winners from the LeMans race.
Later in the week, he left a sour taste in the mouths of officials when he threatened to close the bowling center midway through the tournament. But a lockdown was avoided after strenuous negotiation, and the finals were staged in grandiose fashion on specially constructed lanes in the town’s big sports arena.
The audience was atypical for a bowling tournament. Most arrived in their Sunday best (probably coming directly from noon mass in a nearby cathedral), hauling picnic baskets and bottles of excellent local wine.
Another interesting side note: The place was loaded with members of Paris’ big Filipino community, who’d come to LeMans to see if their hero, former champion Paeng Nepomuceno, could win the BWC title yet again. He didn’t disappoint them. Germany’s Martina Beckel won the women’s crown.
QubicaAMF, the organizer and main sponsor of the BWC since 1965, had hoped to conduct its 46th annual event in Croatia. But the ownership of the proposed host center changed abruptly and the new management apparently was not interested in the tournament. The fact that the Croatian economy tanked during the recent economic meltdown in Europe was also a likely factor.
In mid-July, it was announced that No. 46 would be held at 44-lane Bowling de Provence in Toulon, France’s second largest naval port. Located on the western end of the Cote d’Azur on the Mediterranean, it was settled by the Romans when it was famous for the production of the purple dyes used for imperial robes. In addition to its importance to the French navy, the city of 170,000 is also a major center for the fishing, winemaking and aeronautical equipment industries.
How will the contestants amuse themselves between squads? What international players are entered thus far? The answers to those questions may be found in our comprehensive World Cup preview story, which is included in the October issue of Bowlers Journal International.