The Sete Water Jousting festival in France, originated many centuries ago. This sport dates back in France to the 12th Century (and possibly even to Roman times) and is now a passionate fixture of Languedoc traditional culture.
This spectacle is something that really has to be witnessed to be believed and it is difficult to describe the spectacle adequately, but here goes: Water jousting consists of two huge rowing boats with a raised ladder at one end. On the ladder sit 4 jousters dressed all in white. In the boats, there are 10 rowers who then propell the boats towards each other.
As the boats get close, one of the jouster's picks up their shield and jousting pole and tries to dislodge the other boat's jouster from their platform. A great applause greets a jouster falling into the canal. The boats past each other 7 times and the winning crew is the one who unseats most opponents.
Water jousting has to be one of the most unusual sports from around the world. Apparently, Water Jousting was recorded as being held in Sete during the inauguration ceremony of the city's port in 1666. Since then, it has become a key staple of life within Sete. Each area of Sete has its own Societe des Jouste and rivalry is fierce. Teams from other Languedoc ports (Meze, Marseillan, Agde) also compete in the water jousting tournament.
Water Jousting is a recognised sport in France (and in Switzerland, along with Yodle-ing!). Along with the white outfits, the participants wear either red or blue ribbons - blue for bachelors and red for the married. There are even different categories of Jousts. The junior competition is for those under 21 and the heavyweight class is for anybody over 88 kilograms in weight (and it has to be said that when we watched, there were quite a few heavyweight contestants).
The heavyweight title is considered the blue ribbon event, with the winners getting their names engraved on a shield that is displayed in the Paul Vallery Art Museum in Sete.
According to golanguedoc.com & theguardian.com