Virtual Highland River Melees 2021 features a number of exciting challenges across Arts & Sciences, Equestrian, Rapier, and Heavy Combat. Please consider each challenge below and follow the specific guidelines for submission.

The deadline to submit challenge entries has passed. Thanks so much to everyone who participated!

A man stands outside, grabbing hold to a tree and walking towards a rock outcropping, wearing a white short tunic on fire, a gold collar, and no pants.

Challenge Type: A&S

Sponsor: Mistress Beatriz Aluares de la Oya

Name: Italian Undergarments

Short Description: Best Italian undergarments 1300-1600

Long Description: The challenge is for the best Italian undergarments, either men’s or women’s, from 1300-1600. Garments must be body linens (eg. camicia, shirt, braies, etc.). Documentation is required (Atlantia EZ Docs are fine) and should include inspiration photos and well as finished item photos

What is submitted: Photographs and Atlantia EZ Docs

 A river crosses the image. On the right side of the image is a sailboat with four men in it, one wearing a crown and a blue tunic. On the left side of the image is a person in gold armor, carrying a shield, riding on a white horse towards the boat. Other riders follow the premiere rider.

Challenge Type: A&S

Sponsor: THL Arielle de Pontoise

Name: Equestrian Fashion Show

Short Description: Show off your best equestrian ensemble! 

Long Description: Submit a video of you and your mount dressed in your finest, walking down a “catwalk” i.e. just walk down the middle of an arena, driveway, barn aisle, etc., stop, pose, turn, and walk away from the camera, so the accoutrements can be viewed from all angles and while in motion.   Can be done either ridden or hand lead.  Bonus points for matching equine/ handler outfits.  A panel of judges will decide the winner.  No horse/mule/pony?  Please let me know if you would like to participate and I will help you find one to borrow for the challenge.  

What is submitted: Video

n the left side of the image is a cliff. A white horse is toppling off the cliff, throwing its male rider, who is wearing a crown, red cape, and brown tunic. On the right side of the image is a group of men. The foremost man is wearing a pink robe, blue cloak, and crown, while holding a gold scepter.

Challenge Type: Equestrian

Sponsor: Lord William de Hirst

Name: Madonna Oretta’s Challenge

Short Description: Perform a song or story while on horseback, then perform a related feat with your horse

Long Description: On the first tale of the sixth day, a knight offers to give Madonna Oretta a ride, enticing her with a story. But the knight is so bad at performance that she dismounts. Your challenge is to do better than the knight. This is a combination equestrian-bardic challenge. While on horseback, video yourself telling a story or singing a song (no more than three minutes, please). Then, video yourself performing a feat with your horse (either mounted or walking) related to your performance. Points will be given both for the performance, and the equestrian section, including skill and creativity. 

What is submitted: Video

A man wearing a crown and in a pink tunic walks in the wilderness using a walking stick, while carrying a sack over his shoulder. He walks among trees.

Challenge Type: Equestrian

Sponsor: Lady Zarra de la Vega 

Name: Zarra’s Zesty Zinfandel Challenge

Short Description: Each rider must go through the vineyard and chop down the grapes than turn around and smash them!

Long Description: Go through the Reeds, make a u-turn and hit the Quintain.  

  • Set up: reeds should be set up with IKEQC standards (21′ or 30′) and the reeds lane and Quintain lane should be a minimum of 15 ft apart. 
  • Scoring: the score will be based on a combo of accuracy and gate.  Reeds that get knocked down because the post was hit will not be scored.  The Quintain Must be struck with the lance in your right hand and on the left side of your horse, typical jousting style.  More points will be awarded for hitting the middle of the Quintain shield.  Must maintain a forward gate for struck objects to count, meaning no stopping and hitting it to count.  Also only the first attempt at a target will count.  
  • Time limit: from the first reed to the Quintain you have 1 minute 30 seconds.
  • Food for thought: camera person, keep in mind where you are filming so that reeds can be seen and where the Quintain is struck can be seen.

What is submitted: Video

Three figures are wearing crowns and holding upright swords. The center figure is standing in the mouth of a giant beast at the bottom of the image, with flames coming off of it. The two side people are turned looking in at the center figure.

Challenge Type: Rapier

Sponsor: Master Caitilin ingheah Fheichin

Name: Highland River Sword Challenge

Short Description: Create a video artfully showing your sword skills!

Long Description: Record a video of no more than 6 minutes in length. During the video you may attempt as many challenge cards as you choose. Challenge cards will be divided amongst the levels, you may choose to attempt to do challenge cards on or above your level but not below.

Categories: Never Been to an SCA Event, Scholar, Free Scholar, White Scarf or Master

Bonus Point: A bonus point will be awarded for scenic background and other artful attempts.

Judges will be using a standard score sheet. Score sheets will be sent back to those who entered once judging is complete. A winner will be awarded for each category.

Judging Panel Includes: Master Aeron Harper, Master Brian de Moray, Master Benjamin Lilje, Master Giacomo Vincenti, Master Llwyd Aldrydd, Master Caitilin ingheah Fheichin, Lady Sanada Akime, Lady Eldreda of Lochmere

Please review the challenge cards and a copy of the scoring sheet.

What is submitted: Video

A man in a blue tunic and wearing a crown is on the ground in a table top position. A man in a red tunic with a crown has one foot on him, while he mounts a white horse with the other foot. A crowd of people watches this happen.

Challenge Type: Rapier & Heavy

Sponsor: Lady Colette Vitalis

Name: Bells & Whistles 

Short Description: Lady Colette Vitalis presents four different challenges for you to test your balance, coordination, and weapon-handling precision!

Long Description:  Bells & Whistles, a class series developed by Colette Vitalis based on the teachings of Bruce Lee in his Tao of Jeet Kune Do, seeks to approach improving your martial prowess from an atypical angle- by focusing on the very basics we all take for granted. These include: Flexibility, Coordination, Balance, Precision, Endurance, Power, Good Form, Vision Awareness, Speed, and Timing (both reaction and movement). Bruce Lee calls them ‘qualities’. Only a few of these are usually focused on when nurturing fighters both new and old, yet the lack of many of these leads to injuries such as torn ACLs, ruined knees, back pain, shoulder pain, tendinitis, and more. 

NOTE: Doing *some* challenges may result in injury to those severely underdeveloped.

You can choose to enter anywhere between just one and all four categories. Each category entry should be a separate video.

Category 1: Finishing School Footwork

Put a ½ filled bottle of water, hard book, or similar on your head and slowly go through footwork motions. Keep the bottle/book from falling (without touching it of course). If it falls, you’re out! You must also keep moving to stay in.

Submit a video of you doing this as quickly and precisely as possible!

Category 2: Plank Endurance Challenge

The goal is to have the longest video possible while staying in time with the song. 

Tik-Tok plank challenge: Start in plank position. For every ‘beat’ of this song, progress in the following loop of motions: plank, one arm lifts into push up position, second arm lifts into full push up position, opposite arm drops back into plank position, remaining arm drops back into plank position. Use this as reference: 33 seconds in

Category 3: Paper Shark Game

Take a video of yourself doing the paper shark game as quickly as you can!

Fold a piece of paper length-wise so it will stand up on the ground. While standing on one foot, squat and bend over to pick up the paper with your teeth without any other body part ever touching the ground except your foot you’re standing on. You win this challenge if you can accomplish this feat. 

HARD MODE: Fold the paper width wise so it will stand closer to the ground and repeat.

Category 4: Weapons Precision Challenge

You have two minutes to video yourself doing this challenge.

Mark 3 defined locations that would approximately be head, chest, and legs with chalk, brightly colored tape, marker, etc. Just make sure you can see it and it’s a 1.5” line. 

IMPORTANT: for rapier, all marks should be no bigger than 1.5”x1.5”. For armored, all marks can be 6-7” long by no more than 1.5” high to form an angle to line up the sword on. 

If you have a round pell or kicking bag, feel free to put these markers on various sides or at realistic ‘angles’. If you do not have a pell or kicking bag (most rapier fighters), use the siding on your house outside, find a brick wall, use a metal door, use a dress form, use a wooden bureau at least shoulder-high, or anything else you can mark (relatively) head, body, leg shot high. 

Start from several paces out (not in measure) and get into stance. Have a friend as a caller, and they should begin calling in slow intervals ‘head’, ‘chest’, or ‘legs’. You are to step into measure and immediately, accurately hit the indicated marker with your weapon. Do not stop your motion upon entering measure. If you have been fighting for less than a year (pre-pandemic), you may wish to begin in measure. You may have 3 mistakes before you must remove yourself from the active challenge. 

The follow counting as ‘mistakes’:

  • Slow motion movements count as a ‘mistake’.
  • If you stopped or hesitated when beginning your movement, this is a ‘mistake’.
  • (Armored) Calibration must meet the minimum armored fighting standard. 
  • (Armored) Landing your blow off-angle to your mark or simply not hitting it at all. Edge-of-mark shots do not count as good. Hitting with the flat side of your weapon does not count as good.(Rapier) Calibration must be pressure in line with the blade which causes minimum flex in the sword.
  • (Rapier) Not landing your blow on the mark. Edge-of-mark shots do not count as good.

What is submitted: A video per challenge. 

 A naked man wearing a crown is in the bathtub with his hands up. He is being stabbed by a spear held by one of three armored men who stand outside the tub.

Challenge Type: Heavy

Sponsor: Lord Alexander of Ayr

Name: Show Me What You Got!

Short Description: Heavy Kit Improvement Contest

Long Description: We have been away from each other for a long time. The opportunity has come to show off how you have improved your kit in that time. Find a photo of your kit from a year ago (roughly), and take a picture of how it compares today. Feel free to provide photos of different angles, close-ups, etc. or video. Explain what you changed, why, and how. Different winners will be announced for the following.

1. Most creative use of heraldry

2. Best concealed/hidden armor

3. Over all best improvement

What is submitted: Photos or video

A clash of men in armor is centered around two men wearing crowns and red tunics with gold lions on them.

Challenge Type: Combat Archery

Sponsor: Lord Alexander of Ayr

Name: Blocking Out The Sun

Short Description: SCA Combat Archery Speed Shoot

Long Description: Time to get in kit, grab your bow, and let the arrows fly! For this challenge, you will need to get in heavy kit for combat archery, and find a safe target. Stand roughly twenty (20) feet from the target, and try to get off as many shots using heavy combat legal missiles as you can in the span of one (1) minute. Film your best time and submit it. There should be separate categories for bows and crossbows.

What is submitted: Video

On the left side of the image stand two men in armor, with the face shields on their helms pushed up. One has a red tabard and clasped hands, one has a green tabard and his hands are thrown up in the air. On the ground in front of them are two men in armor lying on the ground, appearing dead. They are outside on green ground under a blue sky. In the distance are trees and a windmill.

Challenge Type: Heavy

Sponsor: Lord Alexander of Ayr

Name: Solis Out, Arquebus Out

Short Description: Armored Push-up Challenge

Long Description: Contestants will armor up (minus helms), and record themselves doing as many push-ups as they can in the span of three minutes.  

What is submitted: Video

A pink stone tower is attached to a wall. A rope ladder hangs off the right side of it, and a man in armor and blue tunic climbs up it. Off the left, a man in armor and red tunic falls towards the ground. He has already dropped his sword, gauntlet, and hat on the ground.

Challenge Type: Heavy

Sponsor: Lord Alexander of Ayr

Name: Harold Hardrada Challenge!

Short Description: Armored Foot Race

Long Description: Harald Hardrada, King of Norway, has gone to Stamford Bridge. Not expecting much resistance, he left a significant portion of his force behind. At the bridge, he was surprised to be confronted by the host of Harold Godwinson, King of England, armed and ready for war. As battle ensues, a messenger arrives to you back at King Harald Hardrada’s camp. “Get your gear and get going!” So the race begins to try to turn the tide of battle!

This is a one (1) mile run done in full heavy kit (helmet and weapon/shield optional). Take a photo of yourself before your run and after your run, and don’t forget to post your time.

What is submitted: Photo of yourself before your run, and one after your run, and post your time.