WELLINGTON, FL – March 20, 2013 – Claude-Alix Bertrand joined the Gay Polo League in 2011 to rekindle his passion for polo.
Bertrand, 38, owner of Atelier Bertrand Interior Design, is an interior architect and designer based in San Francisco and part-time model. He took a long break from the game after a serious polo accident.
After surgeries on his ankle and leg and four months of rehabilitation, Bertrand got back in the saddle.
“This is kind of a new beginning for me or re-beginning,” said Bertrand, who will compete in the fourth annual International Gay Polo Tournament, April 12-13 at Grand Champions Polo Club.
“I didn’t think I would be able to play competitively again, but I am riding again and loving it,” Bertrand said. “I am very excited about the tournament. It is a wonderful opportunity to promote the game and GPL especially with the U.S. Open going on at the same time.”
Bertrand has been around horses most of his life. Born in Haiti, he started riding at age 7 in Barbados. Two weeks after riding at a summer camp, he learned to play polo from the older kids. He played throughout high school and college but quit for ten years to focus on his career. He was re-introduced to the game in 2000 and started playing in a league in 2003.
“Once I was introduced to horses I have been riding, and polo has been a big part of my life,” Bertrand said.
Bertrand took a long break after the accident but has now rekindled his competitive fires. Every Thursday he drives eight hours to Palm Springs to play polo. He flew to Boca Raton for a clinic with pro player and coach Joey Casey at Palm City Polo Club over the Thanksgiving holiday.
“To train with those guys in the desert is a lot of commitment,” Bertrand said. “I have been spending Thursday through Sunday, playing chukkers over the weekend. It’s really been a huge commitment to prepare.”
It took a while for Bertrand to regain his sense of confidence around horses.
“It definitely took a long time to get past that, almost a year to be able to get on the horse, but I am riding again and getting better,” Bertrand said. “As difficult and stressful as it was to get to that point, it really is a very relaxing game. I forget about everything else when I am playing.”
In addition to polo, Bertrand maintains his well-chiseled body with several other sports including wakeboarding, skiing, kite surfing and tennis.
“I know how fortunate I am,” Bertrand said. “I come from a place where I grew up in a different environment. I left Haiti at age 5. I became very aware of life and its opportunities. It’s all about living for me. I have only one opportunity at this life and I want to make the most if it.”
Bertrand enjoys being a role model for the game. There are only a handful of black athletes who play polo.
“This is my first big tournament I will play,” Bertrand said. “I want to play the best match I can and have the best results; that’s really my goal. Obviously, I want to win; that’s always nice. But that’s not the goal.
“I want to walk away having a wonderful experience and hopefully having inspired other people to play, to show people from all walks of life, whether you are straight, gay, black, white, whatever it is. I just want people to say look at how well these guys are playing. Hopefully, it will attract more players to polo.”
This year’s tournament features a record six teams for the first time in GPL tournament history.
Bertrand is among a majority of players who will travel from around the world to compete for the coveted Senator Cup Trophy for the championship game winners and Founders Cup for the consolation match winner.
The Gay Polo League, created in 2006, is an international organization and only known gay polo league in the world. Currently, the GPL’s established four U.S. chapters are in Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York and Wellington.
GPL members include players from several foreign countries such as France, England, Argentina, South Africa, Canada and Australia.
Fourth Annual International Gay Polo Tournament Fast Facts
Where: Grand Champions Polo Club
On the corner of South Shore Boulevard and Lake Worth Road
When: Saturday, April 13, 2013
Time: Polo Matches start at 1:00 pm to 7:00 pm
Gates open at noon
Tickets: General Admission $25
Tailgate Price: $225, includes eight tickets and one field side parking place
VIP Tables: $1,000 includes seating for eight center field, four beverage tickets for each, gourmet food ticket for each, tableside service, including hors d’oeuvres, throughout the polo matches
Kick-Off Party: Friday, April 12, International Polo Club Pavilion. 3667 120th Ave. S., Wellington, FL Start Time: 6:30 p.m. (Food, dancing and auction)
For Tickets: 561 753 3389 or go to http://www.gaypolo.com/the-event/
For Tailgates and VIP Tables: Call 561 753 3389
Cedar Crest Stables
Elite meetings and Events
Gordon W. Ross Team – Re/Max
Phelps Media Group
Wellington Rotary Club
Grand Champions Polo Club
Hampton Inn Wellington 561 472 9696
Hampton Inn Lake Worth 561 472 5980
For sponsorship opportunities contact:
Maureen Gross at Phelps Media Group
For more information about GPL, visit www.gaypolo.com.
Phelps Media Group, Inc.
12012 South Shore Blvd #105
Wellington, FL 33414