The competition is a much-anticipated event in the diary of pyro enthusiasts and socialites alike, bringing people from all over the world together. This, coupled with the gorgeous surroundings and beautiful people of Monaco, makes it an unmissable event. This year, and every fifth year, the champion of champions is held, when the winners from the past four Concours International de Feux d ’Artifice come up against each other in an explosive battle of talent and creativity, desperately trying to outdo each other and impress the elite jury and citizens of Monaco.
Competing in 2014 were the returning champions: Surex (Poland; competing on the 19th of July 2014); Zaragozana (Spain 27th July); Jubilee Fireworks (England 9th August) and Pyrotex Fireworx (also from England 16th August).
"The competition is a much-anticipated event in the diary of pyro enthusiasts and socialites alike, bringing people from all over the world together."
"Bear in mind that there were over 2,500 shells to be wired into over 2,500 mortar tubes"
After arriving in Monaco, we headed down to Port Hercule and found ourselves on the promenade, better known as the firing site. The roughly 200 metre long, empty firing site was covered in heat haze. Our bodies, not having adjusted to the heat quite yet were sweltering.
The next couple of evenings were a whirlwind of activity on site! I have never seen a group of people change such a large space so quickly! Especially knowing that they had to place, angle and fix each mortar before they could place a shell in it. They then had to wire each shell up to the module and then each module to the firing panels. Bear in mind that there were over 2,500 shells to be wired into over 2,500 mortar tubes, which each had to be placed a safe, measured distance from each other before being tilted to a measured angle and nailed into place.
"And then silence as a voice spoke simultaneously across the whole of Port Hercule: ‘Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome Pyrotex Fireworx firing for England."
After 2 long evenings the entire site was all rigged up. Every wire was working, every panel plugged in. It was now exactly 45 minutes until we fired. All I can say is tensions were very high. However, mother nature had other ideas and it had just started raining so a few of the crew had to dash off to the site to cover the fireworks up. Everyone was praying for the rain to stop and kept checking the time (‘okay so it’s got 40 minutes to stop raining, it’ll be fine!’). Luckily it did.
There was so much noise of people chatting and joking around, excited to see the fireworks. And then silence as a voice spoke simultaneously across the whole of Port Hercule: ‘Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome Pyrotex Fireworx firing for England’.
"Our show started to fire. It is difficult to describe what I saw. Difficult to find the words to capture such skill. Such an organic, heartfelt, and passionate display."
And then our show started to fire. It is difficult to describe what I saw. Difficult to find the words to capture such skill. Such an organic, heartfelt and passionate display. I honestly have never seen anything like it. The single shots were perfect. There were a few moments when we cringed due to slow firing but, aside from that, it was perfect. One of my favourite moments was when some single shots fired across the water. It was such an innovative thing to do.
While the fireworks did amaze the crew, they were also counting the flaws and criticising everything and I think that is something we should not do. The public around us really did remind us to just stop picking things out and to just stand back and watch the amazing fireworks.
We all know it went well too as Mark smiled! Mark is his own worst critic (as we all are) and he is hardly ever happy with his displays but he smiled! We were waiting for the results and the all clear to go onto site and start the clean-up. At some point tonight we would find out what happened but the crew were calm for now. We did our best and it is fired. Now we just had to wait and see what the judges thought.
"WE WON! Champion of Champions!!"
WE WON! Champion of Champions!! All that hard work and it paid off. The crew woke up this morning to find Mark was on the French news! Last night was a bit manic seated on the floor of the promenade in puddles with head torches, starving and tired as we were onsite till 5am before crawling back through the hills of Monaco to our hotel where we all collapsed.
That afternoon everyone intended to celebrate. Somehow our form of celebrating was going out for a lunch at 1pm and staying in Stars ’n’ Bars until 1am the following morning. Not sure how that happened but with around 8 crew I am just glad I did not have to deal with the 12-hour long bar tab!