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It has been an exciting weekend in the spectacular Catalan sport of castells - human tower building - as a new champion has been crowned in the sport's premiere competition, the Concurs de Castells in the city of Tarragona which concluded this Sunday. The pink-shirted winners, Colla Vella dels Xiquets de Valls, claimed victory in the 27th edition of the event, finally beating the Castellers de Vilafranca who had won the Tarragona contest eight times in a row. The new champions scored a total of 9,690 points, winning the biennial Tarragona contest which has become a glamour event for this very popular Catalan sport due both to a special competitive format and its atmospheric stadium setting.   


The Colla Vella dels Xiquets de Valls successfully build and dismount a 2 de 8 

The Valls team took away the title thanks to the points scored from two towers they successfully built and dismounted: a 4 de 9 - that is, a tower nine levels high, with four people at each level, apart from the very top and bottom - and a 2 de 8 tower, similarly, eight levels high with two people at each normal level. They were not entirely successful with the third tower they attempted, which is described in Catalan by the complex title of 3 de 10 amb folre i manilles - ten levels high, with three people at each level, and with two special base levels (the folre and manilles) consisting of a large number of team members tightly packed together. The new champions won points for successfully raising this tower, but a mishap in the process of dismantling - descarrega - made the team lose points. Nevertheless, these three constructions gave them enough points to win the closest thing the Catalan sport has to a super bowl.

Defending champions, Castellers de Vilafranca, were beaten into second spot with a total of 8,070 points, after being succesful with a 3 de 10 and a 2 de 9, gaining partial points for erecting but not succcessfully dismantling a 2 de 8. Third position went to hometown team Jove de Tarragona. In a sport that is dominated by teams from the sourthern half of Catalonia (Vilafranca, Valls and Tarragona are all south of Barcelona) the surprise of the day was the fourth place won by the Capgrossos de Mataró, from the coastal town of Mataró north of Barcelona.



Scoresheet for the Concurs de Castells in Tarragona shows green shading for the towers successfully erected and dismantled, orange for those that went up but didn't come down as they should have, and red for those which failed before they reached their intended height.

Solid performance from the Vella team from Valls

The team that was to leave as winners arrived in Tarragona as one of the four favourite teams, with their sights set on dethroning the eight-times Vilafranca champions. 

Their three towers are shown in the tweet. The first, a 4 de 9, was a technically difficult construction which went up and came down impressively. But their great coup was achieved with their second castell, a 2 de 8, or torre de 8, made more technically difficult because it was net, that is, built without any special extra base except for the usual ground-level forest of team members which most towers have. Their third tower, 3 de 10 amb folre i manilles, the tallest of all which they have only successfully built once this year in competition, went up smoothly but collapsed on the way down, losing the team points but not enough to deny them an historic victory in this passionate Catalan sport.