Wind Postpones Play at FIVB Beach Event

July 22, 2009, 1:34 p.m. (ET)

Courtesy of the FIVB 

MARLSEILLE, France (July 22, 2009) - The late-morning high winds continued into the afternoon here Wednesday to postpone play completely at the US$600,000 World Series 13 Grand Chelem as the 16 women's and 16 men's matches will be moved to Thursday with an early morning start on the Plages Gaston Defferre courts.

The United States has seven teams competing in the event.

With a constant wind exceeding 60 to 80 km/h (37-50 mph) that forced the initial delay of the competition Wednesday at 11 a.m., FIVB Technical Supervisor Ed Drakich reviewed the conditions at 1 and 3 p.m. about playing the matches before finally deciding at 5 p.m. to cancel the entire schedule.

"This is Marseille," said Drakich, who played in the first three Marseille men's stops on the SWATCH FIVB World Tour in 1994, 1995 and 1996 and was a FIVB Technical Supervisor in 1997. "We reviewed the weather conditions every two hours to give us every chance of playing today.  Unfortunately, the conditions never improved in the afternoon. The good thing is that we are playing a single-elimination format where we can catch up the next two days."

While the women were playing second-round matches Wednesday, the men were scheduled for first-round play for the 17th through 48th-seeded teams in the bracket with the top 16 beach volleyball pairs receiving a "bye" with their first matches originally scheduled for Thursday.

After making his decision to end play Wednesday, Drakich announced that Thursday's schedule will contain the same 32 matches that were postponed along with trying to complete as many of the 24 matches (16 men and eight) women's that were originally schedule for the day.

"At a regular SWATCH FIVB World Tour, we can play 56 matches in a day," said Drakich, who competed in the Atlanta 1996 Olympic Games with Marc Dunn. "A lot depends on the wind, so we'll be up early Thursday. Again, the single-elimination format for both men and women gives us a chance to catch up."

The World Series 13 Grand Chelem is the fifth SWATCH FIVB World Tour event to use a single-elimination format. Marseille used the format in 1997 and 1998, Los Angeles in 1997 at the world championships and Australia in 2001 for the Goodwill Games in Brisbane. Except for Brisbane, all three single-elimination events were for 32 teams while the Goodwill Games was a 16-team tournament that also featured classification matches.

The World Series 13 Grand Chelem also marks the 15th season that the Mediterranean port city has hosted a SWATCH FIVB World Tour event to establish Marseille as the No. 1 host for the most international Beach Volleyball events since the start of the circuit in 1987. Rio de Janeiro is now second on the list by staging 14 SWATCH FIVB World Tour stops, but none since 2004.

The men's and women's semifinals will be played Saturday followed by Sunday's medal matches for both genders in the third of four SWATCH FIVB World Tour Grand Slam stops in 2009. The winning teams on Sunday will share the $43,000 first-place prizes.