Beach Polo World Cup Reborn
By Jill Patterson
They’re back! After several years hiatus, those beautiful horses and their imperious riders have returned to Miami Beach. Beach Polo World Cup has been reborn bringing world-class players to compete at its former home on the sand between the ocean and the W South Beach. Champagne, anyone?
Thank You Tito
Through the tireless efforts of its founder and organizer, Tito Gaudenzi, the event has been remounted and the result is stunning. With an impressive list of sponsors that includes David Yurman, La Martina, W South Beach, Macallan Whisky, for four days at the start of January, six international teams comprised of some of the biggest names in polo competed for the championship title. In addition to the matches on-site, there were a number of off-site events that fused polo, fashion, and luxury, including a David Yurman event in Bal Harbour to benefit the Bass Museum. And while VIP tickets were available by invitation only, general admission was free and open to the public.
Evolution of Beach Polo
Founder Tito Gaudenzi has polo in his genes. His father Reto Gaudenzi invented snow polo in 1985 on the frozen lake of their hometown of St. Moritz and started the first beach polo event in Dubai in 2004. Together with Tito, they brought beach polo to Miami Beach in 2005. When asked about playing polo on these different terrains, Tito remarks, “Of course the traditional polo on grass, you can’t beat that.” A regulation polo field is the length of 3 football fields and 10 acres total. “But the nice thing about these events on snow and the beach is how close we can bring the audience to the game, which makes it so unique. Polo is the oldest team sport in the world and not many people know that much about it. It’s been my vision to bring polo to the people”.
Really there are a few different shows to watch at this great event. Naturally, the match itself is riveting; the focus of the riders, the danger, the speed, the competition. And then there is the crowd; a marvelous mix of fashionable poloratti, the muddy other players, the announcers. But, finally, you must go behind the scenes and watch the grooms with the horses. It is said the horse is actually more important than the rider in polo. Taking care of dozens of horses and preparing them for the games is a huge task that has to go like clockwork. Each round of polo or “chukker” lasts 7.5 minutes and there are 4 chukkers to a beach polo match. After each chukker, the riders change their horses. With 2 teams of 3 and 4 chukkers to a match, that’s 24 horses that need to be specially groomed and tacked for polo, ready to compete in each match. This is truly a team sport that extends far beyond the playing field.
Tito calls polo his “drug of choice” and although he has broken lots of bones and lost teeth, there is nothing that can prevent him from getting back on the horse. He competes weekly. After beach polo he was off to Kitzbühel, then St. Moritz, then to Wellington for the season. Thanks to his and his family’s passion, Miami Beach can look forward to this elegant annual event to grace its beaches for years to come.