A record number of athletes from across the country converged on Rotorua to compete in the 21st annual Brass Monkey ultimate frisbee tournament.

This year's event, held at the weekend, attracted 230 participants, making it the largest in its 21 year history.

The tournament is unique in that 24 teams vie for supremacy indoors on Saturday, and then on Sunday everyone's names are drawn out of a hat to determine 12 teams for a completely new tournament which is held outdoors.

Two Rotorua teams competed on Saturday, with the competitive team losing their semifinal to the eventual winners, and claiming third place in what was the highest ever placing for a local team.

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Two things make ultimate frisbee unique among sports - women and men play alongside each other, and games are refereed by the players themselves, even at world championship levels.

Players are responsible for making their own calls, and this works because the sport is built upon an ethos of sportsmanship and fair play. This is recognised in every tournament with "spirit" winners receiving equal billing in prizegiving with the championship winning team.

Rotorua's development team won this year's spirit award, continuing a fine tradition of winning spirit prizes in numerous tournaments in the past few years.

The social element of the Sunday "hat" tournament was no more evident than in the winning team, "Rugrats". The team's members ranged from two New Zealand representative players, to a new player playing their first tournament.

Members of the team were from Wellington, Palmerston North, Hamilton, Auckland, and also included Rotorua Ultimate club president Kieran Allen, and Rotorua Lakes High School Year 9 student Liam Snook.

Their team gelled better than the rest over the course of the day, and ended up winning a closely fought final 10-7 over a similarly diverse team.

Among those in attendance at the weekend were Troy Stevenson and Liam Haberfield, along with many teammates from their club team Marvellous DC, who qualified to represent New Zealand in the mixed division at the World Ultimate Club Championships in Cincinnati, USA this July.

Both Stevenson and Haberfield were also recently selected to play in the inaugural Australian Ultimate League, a startup professional ultimate league.


To conclude Sunday's prizegiving, tournament director Jeremy Snook also announced that Rotorua Ultimate would donate $500 to the Ngongotaha Volunteer Fire Brigade to honour club member and volunteer firefighter Daniel Voss, whose home was flooded in the Ngongotaha floods earlier in May.

"Dan is a great guy who would give the shirt off his back, so to hear that he continued to put others first despite losing so much himself in the floods - well, none of us were really surprised. He's just been getting on with life, and is the last guy who would ask for help, so we thought supporting a cause close to his heart would be the best way to show our appreciation."

To try ultimate out for yourself, head down to the Rotorua Girls' High School arena between 7pm and 8.30pm on Tuesday nights.