Against The Bias

One player's perspective in the great Sport of Bowls

The Asia Pacific Championships - An Introduction

The Asia Pacific Championships are a bi-ennial tournament which has been held every odd numbered year since 1985.  That's the short version.  Now here's the rest of the story.  The event was originally called the Mazda Pacific Championships, for obvious reasons, and included a mere 9 countries when it was first held in 1985 in Australia.  By 1997 15 nations gathered in Warilla, Australia for the Asia Pacifics and this had grown to 2001, when the event was in Moama (also in Oz).  In 2011 the Asia Pacific Championships were held in Adelaide, Australia, Nov 28 - Dec 11.  There were 22 countries scheduled to compete, including Canada.  However, the current economic climate being what it is, several countries were forced to bow out at the last moment (e.g., Papua New Guinea, Thailand & India).  The official website has a list of the medalists from all previous Asia Pacifics.  Unfortunately, their records are incomplete, so anyone who can fill in blanks (and there are a lot right now) are welcome to contact those in charge and help them build the history of the event.  Just go to the official website, check out the list of past medalists and, if you can fill in a blank send an email to them.

The Asia Pacific Championships - Canada's history in the event

Canada has had some degree of success at the Asia Pacific Championships.  The following list (which is a work in progress and anyone who can fill in blanks is encouraged to send me their information) shows the members of the various Canadian teams and any medals which were won in each year.

1985 - Tweed Heads, Australia - Sept 15-23



Bill Boettger – 

Bob Scullion –

Alf Wallace –

Elaine Jones –

Dorothy Macey –


Men’s Triples: Bronze – Bob Scullion


1987 - Lae Bowls Club, Papua New Guinea - Oct 24 - Nov 8



Mark Gilliland – triples

Bob Scullion – triples

Alice Duncalf –

Dorothy Macey –

Rosina Toal –


Women’s Triples:  Bronze – Alice Duncalf

Men’s Triples:  Bronze – Mark Gilliland, Bob Scullion


1989 - Suva, Fiji - July 8-21



Bill Boettger – fours

Dave Brown – fours

Dave Houtby – fours

Peter Mutter – singles

Bob Scullion – fours

* Dave Duncalf replaced Dave Brown part way through due to back spasms

Chris Adams –

Marlene Cleutinx

Alice Duncalf –

Dorothy Macey –

Rosina Toal –


Men’s Triples:  Silver – ,

Men’s Fours: Bronze – Bill Boettger, Dave Houtby, Bob Scullion, Dave Brown


1991 - Hong Kong -



Bill Boettger – pairs,

Dave Brown – triples

Dave Houtby – triples

Ron Jones – pairs

Peter Mutter – triples

Laura Dewald –

Alice Duncalf –

Clarice Fitzpatrick –

Elaine Jones –

Dorothy Macey –


Men's Pairs: Gold - Bill Boettger, Ron Jones

Men's Triples: Bronze - Peter Mutter, Dave Brown, Dave Houtby

Men's Overall: Gold - Canada

Men's Top Bowler: Gold - Bill Boettger


1993 - Victoria, Canada



Bill Boettger – pairs skip, fours skip

Steve Forrest – triples lead, fours lead

Mark Gilliland – singles, pairs lead

Vince Mai – triples, fours

Keith Roney – triples, fours

Alice Duncalf – singles,

Margaret Fettes – fours

Anita Nivala – fours lead

Margaret Richards – fours

Jean Roney – fours skip, triples skip


Women’s Fours:  Gold – Anita Nivala, Margaret Fettes, Margaret Richards, Jean Roney

Men’s Pairs:  Gold – Mark Gilliland, Bill Boettger

Men's Fours:  Gold – Steve Forrest, Vince Mai, Bill Boettger, Keith Roney


1995 - Dunedin, New Zealand



Bill Boettger – pairs skip, fours

Mark Gilliand – singles, pairs lead

Ian Jones – triples, fours

Keith Roney – triples, fours

Ted Waterston – triples, fours

Alice Duncalf – fours

Sharyl-Ann Milligan – fours

Anita Nivala – singles

Jean Roney – fours

Maureen Thompson – fours skip, triples skip


Women’s Fours:  Bronze – Maureen Thompson, Sharyl-Ann Milligan, Alice Duncalf, Jean Roney

Women’s Singles:  Bronze – Anita Nivala

Men’s Triples:  Bronze – Ted Waterston, Keith Roney, Ian Jones


1997 - Warilla, Australia



James Covell – singles, triples

Ian Jones – pairs, fours

Kevin Jones – triples, fours

Keith Roney – pairs, fours

Steve Wojcik – triples, fours

Doreen Creaney –

Laura Dewald –

Alice Duncalf

Anita Nivala –

Margaret Richards –


Men's Triples: Bronze – Steve Wojcik, Kevin Jones, Keith Roney


1999 - Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia



Terry O'Neil – triples, fours

Keith Roney – triples, fours

Mark Sutyla – triples, fours

Alan Webster – singles, lead pairs

Stephen Wood – skip pairs, fours

Brian McCartney – manager

On-Kow Au – skip triples, skip fours

Laura Dewald – singles, skip pairs

Sherrey Sidel  – lead triples, lead fours

Susan Smith –  fours

Martha Welsh –  fours

Pam Durdey – manager


Men’s Singles:  Gold – Alan Webster

Women’s Fours:  Bronze – On-Kow Au, Martha Welsh, Sherrey Sidel,


2001 - Moama, Australia



Steve Bezanson – second fours, triples

Chris Grahame – skip fours, triples

Mark Sanford – lead fours, pairs

Chris Stadnyk – vice fours, pairs

Alan Webster – singles, triples

Shirley Fitzpatrick-Wong – singles, skip triples,

Anita Nivala – triples, fours

Melissa Ranger – pairs, fours

Sherrey Sidel - triples, fours

Andrea Weigand – pairs, fours


Men’s Fours:  Silver – Chris Grahame, Chris Stadnyk, Mark Sanford, Steve Bezanson


2003 - Pine Rivers, Australia - Nov 25 - Dec 2



Lyall Adams – triples, fours

John Devonshire – triples, fours

Michel Larue – skip pairs, triples

Keith Roney – singles, lead pairs

Chris Stadnyk – triples, fours

Helen Culley – triples,

Anita Nivala – triples,

Jean Roney - pairs

Andrea Stadnyk – triples,

Betty Walker – pairs, fours


Men’s Pairs:  Gold – Michel Larue, Keith Roney

Men’s Fours:  Bronze – Chris Stadnyk, Michel Larue, Lyall Adams, John Devonshire

Women’s triples:  Silver – Helen Culley, Anita Nivala, Andrea Stadnyk


2005 - Darebin City, Australia -



Ryan Bester – singles

Michel Larue – skip pairs

Keith Roney – lead pairs

Chris Stadnyk – skip triples

Steve McKerihen – vice triples

Mark Sanford – lead triples

Leanne Chinery – triples

Clarice Fitzpatrick – triples

Lynn McElroy - singles

Anita Nivala – triples

Jean Roney - pairs

Betty Walker - pairs


Men’s Singles:  Gold – Ryan Bester

Men’s Pairs: Bronze – Michel Larue, Keith Roney

Men’s Triples:  Bronze – Chris Stadnyk, Steve McKerihen, Mark Sanford

Men’s Overall:  Gold – Canada

Women’s triples:  Bronze – Clarice Fitzpatrick, Leanne Chinery, Anita Nivala


2007 - Christchurch, New Zealand



Ryan Bester – singles, skip pairs

Tim Mason – lead triples, lead fours

Steve McKerihen – skip triples, skip fours

Mark Sanford – lead pairs, second fours

Chris Stadnyk – vice triples, vice fours

Leanne Chinery –

Shirley Fitzpatrick-Wong –

Debbie Foster –

Shirley Ko –

Harriette Pituley –


Men’s Singles:  Silver – Ryan Bester

Men’s Pairs: Bronze – Ryan Bester, Mark Sanford

Men’s Triples:  Silver – Chris Stadnyk, Steve McKerihen, Tim Mason

Men’s Fours:  Bronze – Chris Stadnyk, Steve McKerihen, Mark Sanford, Tim Mason


2009 - Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia - Aug 8-16



Ryan Bester – singles, skip pairs

Michel Larue – vice triples, vice fours

Steve McKerihen – skip triples, skip fours

Jonathan Pituley – lead pairs, second fours

Fred Walbank – lead triples, lead foursbb

Amanda Berg – fours

Katelyn Brierly – fours

Leanne Chinery – singles

Anita Nivala – fours

Erin Roth – skip fours




2011 - Adelaide, Australia



John Aveline – lead triples, second fours

Ryan Bester – skip pairs, skip fours

Michel Larue – singles, skip triples

Tim Mason – lead pairs, lead fours

Greg Wilson – vice triples, vice fours

Amanda Berg – lead triples, lead fours

Jackie Foster – lead pairs, second fours

Marg Lepere – pairs skip, fours skip

Kelly McKerihen – singles, triples skip

Harriette Pituley – vice fours, vice triples


Men’s Pairs: Bronze – Ryan Bester, Tim Mason

Men’s Fours: Bronze – Ryan Bester, Greg Wilson, John Aveline, Tim Mason

Women’s Fours:Bronze – Marg Lepere, Harriette Pituley, Jackie Foster, Amanda Berg


2015 - Christchurch, New Zealand



Ryan Bester – singles, skip pairs

Pat Bird – skip pairs, skip fours

Steve McKerihen – singles, skip triples

Steve Santana – lead pairs, skip fours

Alf Wallace – vice triples, vice fours

Leanne Chinery – skip pairs, skip fours

Shirley Fitz-Wong– vice triples, second fours

Jackie Foster – lead pairs, second fours

Kelly McKerihen – singles, triples skip

Harriette Pituley – vice fours, vice triples


Men’s Pairs: Gold – Ryan Bester, Steve Santana




arma virumque cano Troiae qui primus ab oris

The 2015 Asia Pacific Championships

After taking one cycle off for the 8-Nations tournament, the Asia Pacific Championships resumed in Christchurch, New Zealand.  The Canadian contingent actually had a better winning percentage this time around, especially the women.  The women's sectional play record leapt from 11-12-1 to 17-8 and yet this translated into zero medals.  Still the women's side of the team shows a great turn around from their struggles at 8 Nations and bodes well for World Bowls in 2016.  The guys were about at par and, like last year, Ryan's two events were the play-off events.  Although Ryan was upset by rising Japanese star Kenta Hasebe, he and Steve Santana won Canada's first gold medal in a number of years with an 18-12 come-from-behind win over Malaysia.  Ryan is now the top Canadian at Asia Pacifics with 7 medals (Bill Boettger is still the top Canadian with 5 gold).

Most importantly, Canada is now qualified for all 8 disciplines in the 2016 World Bowls.

The Asia Pacific Championships - The Top Canadians

Some Canadian players have had significant success at the Asia Pacific Championships.  The following is a list of the top Canadian performers at the Asia Pacifics:

Ryan Bester 7 medals (3 gold, 1 silver, 3 bronze)

Bill Boettger   6 medals  (5 gold, 1 bronze)

Keith Roney   6 medals (3 gold, 3 bronze)

Chris Stadnyk   6 medals (1 gold, 2 silver, 3 bronze)

Mark Sanford   5 medals (1 gold, 1 silver, 3 bronze)

Michel Larue   4 medals (2 gold, 2 bronze)

Steve McKerihen   4 medals (1 gold, 1 silver, 2 bronze)

Tim Mason   4 medals (1 silver, 3 bronze)

Anita Nivala   4 medals (1 silver, 3 bronze)

Dave Brown   3 medals (1 gold, 2 bronze)

Dave Houtby   3 medals (1 gold, 2 bronze)

Bob Scullion   3 medals (3 bronze)

Ron Jones   2 medals (2 gold)

Mark Gilliland   2 medals (1 gold, 1 bronze)

Peter Mutter   2 medals (1 gold, 1 bronze)

Jean Roney   2 medals ( 1 gold, 1 bronze)

Alice Duncalf   2 medals (2 bronze)

timeo Danaos et dona ferentes

The 2011 Asia Pacific Championships

The 2011 version of the Asia Pacific Championships was a great event played on brilliant greens.  Over the course of the competition, I wrote a 'journal' on the event and posted it here.  I have arranged the postings below from beginning to end.  I'm not the only source of details on this event.  You can find out more by checking out one of the following sites:

The official 2011 Asia Pacific site:

The Team Canada site: 

Team Canada member Tim Mason's site:

Team Canada members Greg Wilson's site:

The 2011 Asia Pacific Championships - the draw

Well, it looks like they've done the draw for the Asia Pacifics and we now know who we play and when.  You can go to the official website, but here is each of the sections the Canadians find themselves in for each discipline.  BTW, I have to get in some thoughts (even if they are made from relative ignorance).  Do you notice that Canada is never in the same section as Australia?  I won't dare say that a section looks easy, but I will say that the singles sections, especially the women's, is tough.  In 3 of the last 4 Asia Pacifics in the women's singles champions were Carman Anderson, Val Smith & Rosita Bradborn.  Also in the medals 3 times was Siti Zalina Ahmad, who has won gold at the Commonwealth Games in '98.

I expect everyone to be tough.  After all everyone out there has a lot invested in this event.  The New Zealanders and Malaysians, I'm sure will be extra tough; and the Americans look pretty dangerous.  Everyone out there has some performance standards.  Here are mine (for the team): make the play-offs (top 3 in the section) = C; Bronze medal = B; Silver medal = A; Gold medal = A+.

One final item.  Since the number of countries has dropped to 15, the event will start a couple of days later (Nov 30), which will give us all an extra couple of days practice.  That certainly won't go amiss.  It will give all of us a chance to throw a lot of bowls and acclimatize to an 18 hour time change and warm, summery weather.

Twas the Night before Bowling - Asia Pacific Eve

The practicing is over, let the games begin.  The Canadian side has thrown its last practice bowl for the 2011 Asia Pacifics; now all of the bowls will be in earnest.  So, what kind of team have we got here, rolling bowls for Canada?  I think a pretty good one.

First off, everyone here can throw bowls and have proven it,

Secondly, we’ve made the transition to Australian greens and conditions (for those of you unfamiliar with bowls down under, their slow greens are our fast greens – about 13 seconds; Lockleys is running a fast 16 seconds and the event hasn’t even started yet; for those of you who have the fortune and pleasure of bowling at the Pacific Indoor in Vancouver, Lockleys runs about the same speed (I think a bit quicker, but that may just be the wind) but with wider draws; that’s a big difference from slow or nothing.  Even coming from the PIBC, which should make life easier, I have found the transition tough – thank god for several days training!

Third, there is great team chemistry and camaraderie.  Of course only time will tell if those good vibes survive struggles and adversity, but I think they will.

On a personal note, I want to both wish Michel Larue a happy belated (2 days ago) birthday and thank him for helping me spot the hiccup in my mechanics.  I think I’ve got it sorted now and I’m ready to rumble!

Two more tidbits before I sign off:

At the clubs we have bowled at here, they draw a line down the centre of all the rinks.  I say draw, but I really mean paint (must be vegetable dye).  They paint a line that runs from the 2 metre mark to the hog line.  Then at each end (hog and 2m) they paint a short T, no more than 4 inches across.  These lines on are the greens permanently and they are on every rink setting; oh, and they’re dark blue, so they’re visible, but not intrusive.

Finally, if you’d like a different perspective, check out Kelsey (Kelso) Cottrell’s blog on her club’s website: and click on Kelsey’s blog.

So that’s the last posting on the ‘News’ page.  The day-to-day results and comments will be found on the ‘Asia Pacifics’ page.  See you there!

Asia Pacifics - Day 1

If yesterday was the night before, today was Christmas as we all got to open our presents.  After the opening ceremonies, bus ride to our venue and then waiting for the 'bell to ring', it was finally time to start competing.  Today saw just one game and the opponents were:  Macau for the Men's Fours, Singapore for the Men's Singles, Hong Kong for the Women's Pairs & New Zealand for the Women's Triples.  Before the results, the conditions: sunny, cool & windy.  I'm sure I'll be contradicted, but I would say the Lockleys greens where I played were running 17 seconds with a strong 35-40 km wind.  In 30 years bowling, I've had the wind affect the bowls exactly twice before and nothing like this.  If we want to duplicate the conditions, we can set up an industrial fan at the PIBC.  Of course the conditions were the same for everyone, but it made the conditions the focus, rather than the opponent.  A bowl 4 feet from the head was a very good bowl.  I'm told that Holdfast Bay was about 16 seconds with the same wind.

To help us through any vicissitudes we may face, we have a contingent of supporters of 15-20 family and friends, who are as much a part of this team as the players, manager & coach.  I can't list everyone (short-term memory loss), but we've got Amanda's mum, Jackie's mum, Debbie, Greg's dad and sister, Marg's husband, Jim (to be followed by here two daughters), Harriette's friends.  And of course, there is my troika of Cathie, Laurel & Hester, who are due to arrive on Friday.

Michel Larue had a tough game against Singapore and lost 10-21.  He had a couple of ends where he was sitting 3-4 shots, with a bowl behind and his opponent threw a 'Hail Mary' and trailed the jack for big points.  Tough to play against someone who takes such big gambles, especially in these conditions.  Still Michel was not happy with his play and looks to have his "A" game tomorrow.

Kelly, Harriette & Amanda had big league opponents and played a great game against New Zealand.  After 14 ends they were down 7-11, which is only 4 shots above minimum.  Having to gamble, they dropped a 3 in the final end for a 7-14 finish.  Now, how often have we started a tournament against a really tough opponent, lost, but then gone on to win big?  I suspect the Kiwis really honed this trio to a fine edge.

Marg Lepere & Jackie Foster had a tough assignment.  Not only were they against a tenacious Hong Kong pair, but they were BOTH playing their first overseas game for Canada.  They started out very strong and built up an 11-3 lead.  Then Hong Kong got the jack and stretched it out on our duo.  That turned the tide and going into the last end our girls were down 15-18.  Marg had two shots at moving thre jack for a tying 3 and missed each time by about 1 inch (which is a helluva bowl out here).  They finished 15-19.

Finally, our fours team of Ryan, Greg, Tim & myself battled Macau (or Macao, if you prefer).  The game started off quite close thanks to their skip making some great saves and Greg and I working through some early jitters.  At the half-way point we were up by a slender 7-6 score and then we started getting a handle on the green and decided to join Ryan.  We built up a 15-6 lead, dropped a 4 on an unlucky drive of Ryan's and then scored the last 8 shots for a handy 23-10 win.  For me the win was more of a relief than a victory.  It was such a mental struggle not to throw a bowl 6 feet narrow or 12 feet heavy that we're all glad there was just one game today.

I can't tell everyone's draw, but we play Hong Kong and the U.S. tomorrow - two of the tougher, sticker teams in our section.  A pair of wins will put us in a very good position, otherwise we have our work cut out for us.

To finish up, I am planning on including two interesting tidbits; one about your Canadian team and one about Adelaide and/or bowls in Aus.

The 2 host clubs here have windsocks to allow the players to seee the direction of the wind when they are playing - that is how much of a factor the wind is here on slick greens.

Amanda Berg, who bowls in Edmonton, Alberta and is playing lead in the triples and fours, was in Girl Guides for 15 years, from Sparks, through Brownies, Guides, Rangers and Pathfinders, eventually becoming a Leader and culminating in sitting next to the Duke of Edinburgh at a Guiding dinner.

Asia Pacifics - Day 2

What a long and tiring day!!  Pretty much everyone played two games - on 16-17 seconds and a wind that increased throughout the day.  I can't say a lot about the other games, but I could write reams about our two fours games.  In the morning we played our cousins from south of the 49th.  The American team features Michael Siddall, Loren Dion, Joe Regan & Ian Ho.  We started off down 0-7 after 4 ends and after 7 ends we were down 1-10 (it took ends to count 7; we burned 3 of them.  The next 4 ends saw us out-score the US 7-1 (with another burn) and it looked like we were going to take over.  But things began to go wrong.  Basically, we couldn't make enough shots to put them under pressure.  When they were under pressure, we scored; when they were under pressure, sometimes we escaped (the 4 burnt ends were ours), sometimes we didn't.  By my reckoniong there was one end when we, as a team, made 5 quality shots - we scored a 5.  There were 3 ends when we combined for 4 quality shots and the scores in those ends were -1, +1, +2.  The final score was 10-24.

After a quick lunch of ravioli and salad we were back at it against Hong Kong.  The meal probably did us a lot of good, our opponents were not as sharp and we were out to bounce back big time.  And we did, to the tune of 21-11.  It's interesting that  thefinal scores have all had wide margins.  This time the start was better (3-3 after 3 ends) and then we rattled off 10 shots in four ends to take control.  The rest of the game was back and forth and those 10 shots were the difference.  And the man who contributed the most to those 10 shots was our vice, Greg Wilson, who shot the lights out, doing everything; draw, convert, drive.  It was brilliant to watch.

Our women's pairs had just one game today and it was heart-breaking.  Marg & Jackie lost 14-15 on the last bowl when Marg's attempt to move the opposition rocked the bowl but couldn't convince it to roll over.

Michel had a very tough day against two top guys; Danny Ho of Hong Kong (anyone who bowled in Vancouver, or the Canadians, in the late '90's will remember Danny) and past world champion Safuan Said of Malaysia.  Michel expects big things from himself tomorrow and I am really pulling for him.  During our training here leading up to the event, he has helped me tremendously fine tune my delivery for these greens and conditions.

The women's triples of Kelly, Harriette & Amanda had a 7-15 loss in the morning, but had a great recovery with a 23-6 win in the afternoon.

The day was capped off brilliantly by Amanda's mum Wendy who has the family down and has rented a house in Adelaide.  They had the entire team and supporters over for turkey and all the trimmings, cake and ice cream.  It was a great chance for us all to have some home cooking and get together in cosy surroundings to chat and unwind.

Tomorrow we are looking forward to building on what we've been able to do so far (in the fours we have Norfolk Islands & China).  I also get to see my girls who will be flying in in the morning, while we are doing battle at Lockleys.

Asia Pacifics - Day 3

Canada was almost perfect today!!  7 games played, 6 wins.  So, let's all take a minute and enjoy that one.  The best win came from our Women's Pairs.  Jackie & Marg, both playing overseas for Canada for the first time, were so close in their first two games against Hong Kong and Singapore.  Then they started the morning with a 14-25 loss to the Phillipines (skipped by a former Asia Pacific gold medalist, mind you), but they were not happy with how they had bowled.  In the afternoon they were up against one of the top women bowlers in the world in the Malaysian skip - and they won.  They battled evenly in the first third of the game and then started pulling away until they put the stamp on things with a 5 ender.  From there they just made sure they kept the game in control and finished with a 22-16 win.  At 1-3 they still have an outside chance for the play-offs, but the big thing is that they won their first major international game against a top team.

Also breaking out in a big way was Michel Larue who slammed the breaks on his 3 game slide with two convincing wins; 21-8 against Macau and 21-5 against Japan.  With two games to go Michel is fourth and can move up to a play-off spot with two wins, one of which will have to be against New Zealand's Shaun Scott.  Michel recently beat Shaun in the world Champion of Champions, but Michel will tell you that was set play on 11 second greens.  I'll tell you what the greens are running here in a second.

The Women's Triples followed up on yesterday's big win over Fiji with another convincing victory, this time 22-6 over Hong Kong.  They are in a play-off position at 2-2 and have 2 more games against Malaysia and Singapore.

And then there's our Men's Fours.  We had a big day, winning 28-12 over Norfolk Islands and 26-11 over China.  It's amazing what can happen when the front end starts making some shots.  Tim and I had not played up to our capabilities in the first three games, but this time we made Greg and Ryan's life a little easier and out a bit of pressure on our opponents.  Tomorrow we play Samoa in the morning and Malaysia in the afternoon.  One win will guarantee us a play-off spot, but, if we can win both, we have an excellent chance of finishing first - and that's huge.  First in your section means a guaranteed medal.

Now, about the greens.  This morning in the sunshine and under calm skies, the greens at Lockley's were very similar to the Pacific Indoor.  They ran 16-17 seconds, but they were true and consistent, so you just found your line and you could stay with it all game.  In the afternoon the wind picked up (35 km per hour) and that's when things got interesting.  The wind was blowing across the green and slightly corner to corner.  The speed got up to 19 seconds and even minimum bias bowls were drawing 10-12 feet.  It was crazy.  Every bowler north of the 49th should have on their bowls bucket list to play on greens like that, just to experience.  Some of the top players in the world were 6-8 feet away from the jack, or in the ditch.  In those conditions the best place to be is 2-3 feet from the jack.  That's still incredibly hard to beat, but also leaves holes for drives to go through.

Speaking of drives, I have had a pleasure of watching our Ryan Bester throw his drive.  Yes, he is one of the best drivers in the world.  Twice in one game he killed the end by driving the jack OVER the backboard and off the green.  Once it went into the green behind us and once it went into a rose bush.  In both case we was driving at a jack that was fairly bare and he smacked it right on the nose!  Glad he's on my team.  And he favours the aggressive game, so he has called on me, the second to play with some weight and I've been able to join in on the fun with a burnt end and a jack in the ditch with the toucher a few inches away.

The day was capped off with my girls joining us and swelling our cheering section by 3 more.  So nice to have the family all in the same hemisphere.

So, by this time tomorrow we could have quite a few of us in the play-offs, ready to shoot for medals on December 8th when the play-offs rounds begin.

Asia Pacifics - Day 4

Today was one of mixed results as the first round of sectional play completed in sunny and increasingly blustery weather.  The upshot is that one Canadian team, the men's fours have advanced to the play-offs.  But make no mistake - everyone came very close to joining us.

We were pretty comfortable at 4 wins and 1 loss going into today's play.  We just wanted to keep going and to build on yesterday's strong peerformance.  We started out like gang-busters against Samoa and were ahead 19-2 after 9 ends.  We were starting to think about how much of the shot deficit between ourselves and Malaysia we could erase.  Then we started struggling and Samoa started getting it and with 3 ends to go are lovely lead had shrunk to 1 slim shot.  Fortunately, we finally pulled it together with 3 in the next 2 ends to have a 4 shot lead playing the last end.  The Samoan skip had a chance on his last bowl for a take-out for 5, but missed and we escaped with a win and a play-off spot.  The afternoon game against undefeated Malaysia gave a slim chance to finish first and get a bye through to the semi-finals, but that would have required a 14 shot win.  At the halfway makr in the game we were down a couple 9-11, which made are chances slim and they turned to none when the score hit 10-15 after 12 ends.  From then on we were just playing for love and national pride.  The game finished 14-22.  Our final record is 5 wins, 2 losses (+ 35 shots) which put us 2nd in the section.  In the quarterfinals, which don't start until Dec 8 (because we play the other four events' sectional play first) we play the Philippines; the winner will advance to the semi-finals and go up against favoured Australia.  Till then, I have the pleasure of playing in the triples with Michel Larue and Greg Wilson.  Tomorrow we play the Philippines and New Zealand, two tough opponents.

In Men's Singles Michel Larue needed 2 wins and he was guaranteed to advance.  He played two tight games against Samoa and New Zealand, but wound up on the losing side by scores of 18-21 and 16-21.  Michel may have finished 8th with 2 wins, 5 losses, but I'm still really looking forward to bowling lead for him in the triples and working to reach the playoffs in that disciplne as well.

The Women's Triples (aka Amanda, Harriette & Kelly) had a rough day.  After their 6-19 loss to Malaysia, they were still able to reach a play-off spot, if they beat Singapore.  They gave it a good go, but fell short 11-18 and settled for a 2-4 record and fifth in their section.

Last but not least Marg and Jackie finished on a high note with a 17-9 win over Japan.  Theirs was a close game that they broke open in the last few ends.  They also came the closest to advancing.  Their record of 2-3 was good enough for 4th in the section and, if they had got a bump instead of a wiggle on the last bowl against Singapore they would have won 15-14 rather than losing bythat same score.

Speaking of Marg & Jackie, I have to thank them for leading the early risers (6:10am start) on walkies and stretching.  The company is great and I feel the benefit of a good start for the whole day.  Today we were joined by my Laurel, who woke up coach Lachlan and myself at 5:55am.  That's it, Laurel, keep us on schedule!

Asia Pacifics - Day 5

Everyone started play in their second events today as we all began the battle forplay-off spots starting from scratch.  The men re-arranged themselves into pairs (Ryan & Tim) and triples (Michel, Greg & John) while the women played singles (Kelly) and fours (Marg, Harriette, Jackie & Amanda).  Win tally was 5 our of 8, pretty good when 3 of those games were against the New Zealanders.  Our triples team won against Singapore 13-12 when Saint Michel made an absolutely brillient shot on the last bowl of the game to drive the jack into the ditch, with his bowl following to within 2 feet of the plinth.  Greg and I were calling 'Whoa!' to his bowl.  Then we saw the shot on instant replay courtesy of Greg's videographer sister Brooke.  Watching the shot we realized that Michel's bowl was a toucher.  It could have gone into the ditch - no problem.  The afternoon was a tilt against New Zealand and it was one of the toughest games I have ever played in my life!  I very much had the feeling of sitting at the adults' table.  We were back and forth up to 10-12 after 12 ends when Greg and I left Michel in the lurch and his draws came up a foot short of getting in for shot.  The result was down 4.  The last two ends were tight ones where we had chances to score both times, but Ali Forsyth, the Kiwi skip made some great shots to pick up a pair of singles.  Final score: 10-18.

The women's fours were also playing at Holdfast Bay and their day was similar to ours.  They had a morning win (alebit an easier one) against Norfolk Island, 23-13 and then played a very close game against New Zealand.  Trailing 16-17 playing the 17th but laying 3 shots, they were zapped by New Zealand skip Jo Edwards who bumped the jack for 3 and then finished the game with a single and a 16-21 win.

I think that if both teams can keep up the standard we reached against the New Zealanders, and build on it, we both have a great shot at the play-offs.

The big winners for Canada were all at Lockleys.  Kelly M. lost a heart-breaker to Tammy Tham of Hong Kong 20-21.  She obviously had no problem shaking off that disappointment when she played world #3 Val Smith.  Kelly had a marvellous game and won convincingly 21-12.

Ryan & Tim were the perfect team with wins of 19-7 over Japan and 19-11 over the Philippines.  The second win was made more significant by the fact that the Philippines beat the U.S. who, in turn, New Zealand pair by ten shots 23-13.  Our Canadian duo play the Kiwis and Americans tomorrow.  Two wins will have them very much in control of their section.

One of the most colourful players is the skip of the fours and triples for Fiji, Semesa Naiseruvati.  He is a big bear of a man with a deep growly voice.  When he makes a great conversion shot (especially when he hits the jack into the ditch) everyone on the green hears the jovial, roar, "What can I say?"  I wish I had audio for that - you have to hear to really enjoy it.

So, tomorrow is a big day for everyone.  We all have 4 games to play and 2 of them are Monday.  Any team that wins both games will be in a very good position to finish top 3 in their section and be in the play-offs.  By the way, check out photos where I have put up a pic or two.

Asia Pacifics - Day 6

Okay, we're back on-line and fully charged!  My netpad is working again too.  This morning is a bye for Canada right across the board, so there's been time to unwind after some fairly intense play and I have the chance to recap yesterday.  It was HOT! HOT! HOT!  Both the temperature and the play, with a stiff breeze thrown in for good measure.  Overall Canada went 5 wins, 2 losses and a tie on day 6.

Kelly went to the top of the class with a pair of 21-12 wins over the Philippines and Brunei.  She has now beaten 2 previous women's singles gold medalists at the Asia Pacifics.  Today she play Ziti of  Malaysia, another of the top women bowlers in the world.

I guess we were runners-up with a win and a tie in the Men's Triples, but it didn't feel that good.  Our morning game was against the U.S. and after building a 10-2 lead at the half, we got nibbled to death by minnows and gave up a single in the 15th for the tie.  Greg rightly identified the turning point.  We were all over the jack and Ian Ho drove to spring the jack back up the green about 10 feet hog and a few inched from the side boundary.  Greg responded with a bowl about one foot away.  Then Loren Dion, the U.S.skip gently drew the jack out of bounds.  That's when the nibbling started.  Still, we were sure we had the win when Michel let go of his last bowl.  He was driving their one shot out of the head (it was a few inches from the jack) and he missed by a whisker.  The afternoon was a solid bounce-back game against Japan and a 22-10 win.

The Men's Pairs split their games, losing 13-17 to New Zealand, who are at the bottom of the pool and then winning 18-15 against the U.S.  The guys are sitting first in their section and in a great position to claim the top spot and a direct in to the semi-finals.

The Women's Fours also split two really tough games which must have been incredibly mentally exhausting.  They had a big win in their morning game against Malaysia, 14-12, which was a huge boost.  In the afternoon they were nicely up on Singapore 13-6, when their skip 'Singapore Mary' made a brilliant double to turn 2 down into 5 up.  The two teams were level 15-15 playing the last end and the Singapore lead did what all us leads dream about - planted a front toucher on the jack and our girls could never quite reach it.  Final score 15-16.

So we all play 1 game this afternoon.  It will be hot (30 degrees, but it feels hotter) and, if today is like all the other days a nice, annoying breeze will kick up and guide the bowls around the greens.  For me, as a lead, precision is out the window.  If I can get a bowl within a yard, I'm thrilled.  A great spot to be is about 1.5 - 2 feet from the jack.  Close to make outdrawing difficult, far enough to create holes for bowls to slife through.  Right on the jack is fun too, but the big boys can hit a lone bowl and even a bare jack, so nothing is safe.

A couple of observations: one of the tough things about playing with this team is that you'd love to be able to bowl with these people a lot more, only we all live 1,000's of kilometers from each other - makes it tough!  Those of you who have checked out the official 2011 Asia Pacific website will see that the results are up quick and their are scads of photos - two thumbs up in those categories.  But you'll also have read an awful lot about the Australians and not quite so much about the rest of us peons.  I'm all for national pride, but most of the news belongs on the Bowls Australia site.  The event site should be a bit more inclusive - but that's just me; "What can I say?"

Getting close to time to head out to the clubs and roll a few to get the feel in before the afternoon games.  Canada going for 4-0.

Asia Pacifics - Day 7

There's just one round to go and everyone's in the hunt for a play-off position.  We're all  feeling pretty energized and ready to finish the round robin with a bang.  Leading the charge are Ryan and Tim in the Men's Pairs.  They have alreay qualified for the play-offs, but a win will give them first place and put them directly into the semifinals.  These two guys are a great combination of easy-going confidence and intense focus and they've been showing why they are our top crack at a medal.

We had a rough day at the office, losing 7-17 to Malaysia.  It was a frustrating game all around.  Michel bowled brilliantly for the first 2/3 of the game and was keeping us in it (down 5-6 after 8).  The killing blow was a pair of shots from the Malaysian skip, who hadn't been doing very much up to then.  First he moved the jack from a pair of our bowls which were 3-4 inches from the jack; then he drove our only bowl out of the head cleanly for 4 shots and a 12-5 lead.  The rest of the game was 1's and 2's, mostly for them.  A win there would have meant our fate would have been in our own hands.  As it is, we need to win against the Norfolk Islands and we need the New Zealanders to beat the Americans.  We also need the shot differential in those two games to add up to at least 25.  Not exactly a tap-in, but not impossible.  Our cause is helped by the fact that the Kiwis need to win to finish first ahead of Malaysia, but we still need to play strong and hard against Norfolk Island for 15 ends.

Kelly McKerihen is described in one of the event news items as the dark horse of her section.  Today she lost a good battle to Ziti Selina for Malaysia (the world #5 woman) 14-21.  She plays undefeated Carmen Anderson of the Norfolk Islands tomorrow.  She'll need to win to advance and she made need a bit of help from the shot count as well.  It might come down to a 1 or 2 shot differential to determine who's in and who's out.  Kelly has been playing great bowls in her "group of death", which inludes three past Asia Pacific gold medalists in women's singles (Carmen, Rosita Bradborn & Val Smith as well as 2-time Commonwealth Games gold medalist in women's singles, Ziti.

The game of the day was played by our Women's Fours team who had the best finish of any of us in their game against Hong Kong.  They tell me they were chasing the Hong Kong girls the whole way, slipping behind, catching up, slipping behind, until they reached the 18th end trailing 15-18.  I watched the last end and saw vice Harriette P. hit the jack to trail it back to the Canadian bowls in the back, only to have the jack check on a Hong Kong bowl.  With the best 3 back bowls, Marg L. hit the jack into the ditch for 4.  The Hong Kong skip tried to draw to cut it down and went into the ditch (very easy to do here).  The girls went crazy - and so they should.  When they got back to the hotel, they did a team cannonball into the hotel pool.  They will need a win against Fiji and then one of two things; either beat Fiji by 8 or more shots, or have New Zealand beat Malaysia.

So, the Canadian blokes and sheilas will need to throw some ripper bowls to qualify for the quarterfinals in Friday.  Stay tuned!

Asia Pacifics - Day 8

The sectional play is now over and Canada has two more teams in the play-offs and one guaranteed medal - not a bad day at the office, but not as good as could have been.

It was hot - by 8:45am we were sweating; the greens were flying at Lockleys, like they have all tournament; at least there was no real wind.

Top of the pile first: Tim and Ryan won a close, low-scoring game against Brunei 13-10 to take first on their section and a semi-final berth.  They will await the winner of New Zealand vs the Philippines.  Ryan and Tim have a pretty good Asia Pacifics so far, going 10 wins and 3 losses and they're the Canucks with a shot at two medals.

The Women's Fours (Marg, Harriette, Jackie & Amanda) rode the wave they created in their last end win over Hong Kong and took down the foursome from Fiji 22-14.  That put them second in their section with a 4-2 record.  They will play the Philippines in their quarterfinal match with the winner taking on New Zealand in the semis.  As fellow newbies to the international bowls scene, Jackie & Marg have done really well.  Now the quartet is 1 win away from a medal!

Kelly Mc needed to win her game against 2-time World Women's Singles gold medalist, Carmen Anderson.  Kelly was up 14-6, but Carmen was not to be denied a perfect record as she fought back for a 21-18 win.

Our triples team was the last off any green in the one and only round today.  We were only able to complete 14 of the 15 ends and even at the we played almost 1/2 an hour past the time limit thanks to about 8 burnt ends (I lost count).  Going into the game we needed to win, have the US lose and we needed to make up a shot deficit of 24.  Our buds from New Zealand helped us by beating the US 16-7 (although the US picked up a huge 3 shots in the final end, which turned out to be create a large hill for us).  We started out in a tough battle with the Norfolk Islands and were only up 6-5 after 5.  Then we started rolling and out-scored our opponents 15-1 to grab a 21-6 lead after 11 ends.  At that point we were in.  Then the guys from NFI made life tough for us with a 2 and 3 to chop a vital +5 off our shot differential.  We needed 5 shots and after we burnt the first play of the 14th end, we only had the one end to do it.  I think we burnt the end 3 more times before running out of bullets and dropping 1 to finish the game 21-12 up, but out of the play-offs.  Credit Norfolk Island who knew they weren't going to win, but kept grinding away in the last 3 ends.  Their lead was especially sticky in the last few ends and even if I good a good bowl in, he would beat it and put the pressure back on us.

So, tomorrow the Men's and Women's Fours will play at 9:00am at Lockleys in the quarterfinals, both against the Philippines.  A win gets you a semi-final game (which will be played at 1:00pm tomorrow as well) and a guaranteed medal.  Then Friday will be the quarters and semis for the Pairs and Triples.  The Canadian team is idel in the morning and then we'll all be pulling for Tim and Ryan as they play their afternoon semi-final game.

The Canadian team (along with New Zealander Ali Forsythe and Samoan Solialofi Oti) enjoyed a BBQ in the park across the street from our hotel to celebrate Ryan's birthday.  Beautiful weather and a nice way to cap off over a week of intense competition.  In 30 years of playing bowls at almost all levels, I have never experienced anything like this event for intensity and mental strain.

I have to mention 3 people to round off this chapter.  Two of our Canadian team were shut out from play-off play: Michel Larue and Kelly McKerihen and yet they were two of our best players.  That's the vagueries of sport for you.  Kelly so impressed the Aussies that she was mentioned twice in the official website's news section.  She's one of Canada's absolute top women, she played tow-to-toe with some of the world's best, including beating last two Asia Pacific Gold medalists in women's singles.

Michel, mon ami, you played world class bowls as our skip in the triples and our talks on and off the greens have made me a better bowler.  I wish I could have given you that 1% more support that would have put us over the top.  IMHO Michel was the best skip in our section in the Men's Triples.  He made some beautiful draws and his drive was usually money in the bank.

Last, but definitely not least is the aforementioned Solialofi, the lead for Samoa in the triples and fours.  He is a young guy who has only bowled for 2 1/2 years, but he has maturity way beyond his years.  He is also one of the classiest and most sportsmanlike people I have ever had the pleasure of competing against.  Get this: our fours team is of them 19-2 after 9 ends.  I get up and on my second bowl I throw a wrong bias (not the first or the last one of the event for me, I have to confess).  I felt terrible.  I couldn't even look at anybody.  And this young guy comes over and gives me a pat on the back and offers words of encouragement.  And I learned at out BbQ that he dribbles a pretty fair soccer ball.

Asia Pacifics - Singles & Fours Quarters and Semis

Medals of Canada!!  Both the Men's and Women's Fours earned bronze medals today before being schooled by not just the top teams in the event, but perhaps the world.

The day started out under perfect conditions at Lockleys.  There was light cloud cover (we are expecting some rainy, stormy weather tomorrow), no wind and 17 second greens.  Both Canadian fours teams were playing against Philippines and I have to admit the results surprised me (oh me of little faith!).

The women's fours started out in a battle and were down 2-5 before they picked up a 4 ender and then they went to town and rattled off 3's on they way to a 17-5 lead.  The team and our great fan support were really amped and cheered like crazy, inspired by the play of Herriette P. - loud and proud!  The Philippine girls fought back to cut the lead to 18-12 before Marg L. made a clutch shot to score a 3 and put the lights out.  The girls had a 22-14 lead playing the last end and that got them their spot in the semi-finals.  There they played New Zealand.  They had lost to the Kiwis by a respectable score of 16-21 (and the game was actually closer than that), but the New Zealand quartet, skipped by Jo Edwards, arguably the best women's skip in the world right now, were too much for our crew.  If their game was anything like ours, they battled hard and made a lot of nice shots, but the New Zealanders were too much.

Our games in went very similarly.  We started off strong against the Philippines and were up 8-0 before they scored a 1.  After 13 ends we were up 14-4 by scoring 1's and 2's and giving up only 1's.  The 14th end was the killer.  With us laying a couple of shots the Philippine skip tried to drive and burn the end.  Unfortunately for him he only made slight contact with his target, the jack squirted and we were all around it for a 5.  After that we just kept the score to 1's and finished 20-6 after 17 and handshakes.  Our game against the Australians was the exact opposite.  Even though we did nip them for a pair of 4's, these guys were just relentless and we shook hands after 16 ends, down 11-27.  After being down 4-5 after 3 ends, the closest we got after that was down 9-20 with a chance to trail the jack into the ditch for a 4 count - no such luck.  11-27 sounds like we stunk, but actually played a pretty good game, not much below our standard in the morning.  But we were playing probably the best men's fours team in the world - (Aron Sherriff, Nathan Rice, Mark Casey & Mark Berghofer; aka Azza, Lurch, Hammer & Casper).  In the round robin they went 6-0 with a +123 shot differential - and they had New Zealand in their group.  I know Ryan wasn't happy with his play, but he had a lot more pressure than he had in the morning, when he only had to throw 2 drives all game.  With these guys, if you put a bowl beside the jack they would just cleanly bump it out a couple of feet.  The New Zealanders will give them a good run, but I can't see anyone beating these guys.

So, it's bronze medals for: Marg Lepere, Harriette Pituley, Jackie Foster, Amanda Berg, Ryan Bester, Greg Wilson, Tim Mason & yours truly.

Tomorrow there is just one game for Canada - the semi-finals between our guys Ryan & Tim against the winner of the quarterfinal between the Philippines and New Zealand.  If they win that afternoon match, they will play in the finals on Saturday probably against the Aussies (who already have made the finals in Men's and Women's Singles and Fours).

Asia Pacifics - Canada's last day: part 1

For the first time in the Asia Pacific Championships I actually got to watch a game and what a game it was.  Ryan and Tim took on the New Zealand pair who had beat our guys 13-17 in the round robin.  The guys never trailed and put a lot of pressure on the Kiwis.  After 4 ends they were up 5-1 and then the New Zealand skip, Richard Girvan had to kill the next 4 ends (twice he had the fortune of driving a side bowl into the jack for the burn.  In the 11th end the New Zealanders scored a 4 to tie the game at 8.  The teams battled back and forth to 12-12 after 16.  The New Zealand lead put in a couple of beautiful bowls, one 18 inches in front and the other the same distance behind.  It gave Ryan very little to target for his drive and it was virtually impossible to out draw those bowls in the windy conditions (the weather was a bit miserable; rain off and on and windy).  Anyway, our guys set up a shot at a four end score on the last end, but Ryan's draw to trail the jack was just a shade wide and they settled for 1 shot and a 13-15 loss.

So, Canada finishes with 3 bronze medals, Men's and Women's Fours and Men's Pairs.  On, by the way, the U.S. team that pipped us for the last play-off spot in the Men's Triples went on to claim bronze.

After our guys finished their game, we turned our attention to a game 2 rinks over; a semi-final women's pairs game between the Philippines and Malaysia.  Malaysia was in control 22-15 and their skip (world #5 Sti Zalina) was making good shots.  But the Philippine skip, Rosita Bradborn, made a brilliant last shot for 8 (that's right, she scored an 8-ender in the 17th end of the Asia Pacific Championships!!!)  She and her partner ran and hugged in the middle of the green and celebrated coming back from the dead and taking a 23-22 lead.  In the 18th and last end Rosita drove the jack into the ditch on her first bowl and sat too close to be outdrawn and they shook hands.

Unfortunately, Canada will not be playing in any of the finals (Australia will be in 7 of the 8 finals), but we will be lined up at the medal ceremony on Sunday, when play has completed to receive our bronze medals.  Tomorrow I think the girls and I will visit a wild-life place and do some tourist things while we have the chance.  Sunday I am looking forward to watching some world-class bowls, soaking up the atmosphere and learning from some of the best bowlers in the world.

One final observation neeeds to be made regarding how we Canadians do against the Aussies (and Kiwis).  It is easy to say that we aren't good enough and that we have a long way to go to catch up to these guys.  But let's remember, we're playing on their surface.  I heard that the Aussie team is made of players who play almost exclusively on the really quick surfaces (15-18 seconds).  I waas told that no one who bowls in the state of Victoria because their greens are too slow.  They typically run 12-14 seconds and that is not considered a good enough surface to produce internationals.  Oh, and there is also the issue of money.  We pay for the privilege of playing for Canada.  Aron Sherriff is paid $58,000 by his club to bowl and Karen Murphy is being paid $2,000 per day for playing at the Asia Pacifics.  Not exactly a level playing field!

Asia Pacifics - Canada's last day: part 2

We basically had the day off today as none of us are in a finals and the medal ceremonies are not until tomorrow.  A number of us felt at 6's and 7's without the routine we have had now for over two weeks (although our morning walk and stretch group still met at 6:10am).  We had a final team dinner and gave Lachlan a couple of well-deserved presents - a couple of decent bottles of red and a framed photo of the team with each of us writing a message around it.  Of course the pundits and players back home will be assessing our performance and we'll get hear everything from bouquets to brick-bats.  I'll get in the first word(s).

It's been a bit of a dry spell for Canada on the international stage.  The Men's Triples picked up a bronze at World Bowls in 2008 (that's a big fish!) and Vince Mai won bronze at the World Cup a couple of years ago but that's it (correct me, if I'm wrong).  So this year's 3 bronxe performance is a bit of a bounce-back.  I would say it is more of a bounce-back than it appears.  The men's side had 2 guys who had never medaled internationally and one who was playing overseas for the first time.  On the women's side there were two rookies and slight 'podium experience'.  In that light 3 bronze don't seem too shabby.  But it goes further than that.  Most of the teams that didn't make the play-offs were very close to getting there.  The Women's Pairs lost one game by the turn of a bowl as it came to rest, or they would have been in.  We settled for a tie against the States on a one inch miss.  Even at that were had the necessary shots in our last game with 3 ends to go and we just couldn't quite score in those last three ends.  Even ore telling is the fact that, although we're all jacked (especially us rookies) about getting medals, we're not entirely satisfied.  I'm still kicking myself that I couldn't play some decent lead bowls in the last 3 ends against Norfolk Islands, more  so when I saw that the U.S., who pipped us for the play-off spot by 6 shot differential, won their quarterfinal match.  I know Ryan and Tim weren't happy to lose to New Zealand in the semis.  It was a great game to watch - bloody good bowls every end - but it wasn't good enough for them.  Also, I looked up the results for the 2009 Asia Pacifics (held in Malaysia where the greens run 9 seconds).  Canada made the play-offs in 4 of the 8 events, but none of them quite cracked into the semis and a medal (although the Men's Triples was close, losing by one shot to the New Zealanders).  By comparison, our finishes were not as "broad-based", but our 3 teams who made the play-offs also made the semis.  That's pretty good work on 17-19 second greens, when you come from the land of the 10 second greens,

Anyway, great show everyone!  We're pretty thrilled to be bringing jewelry back home with us!