More than £22,000 on offer at Isle of Man International Festival of Darts
The chase for rankings points switches to the Irish Sea and the Isle of Man International Festival of Darts next month.
A prize purse of £22,800 is on offer across the three-day tournament (March 9-11), as well as BDO Invitation Tables Category A rankings points.
Venue for the 27th festival will once again be the palatial sea-front multi million pound Villa Marina entertainment complex in Douglas. The Georgian-styled building has to be one of the most impressive venues in the world of darts.
Up to 1000 travellers are expected to descend on the 32-mile long island - the bulk coming from the UK mainland - although there are early indications that players will be travelling from Jersey and Guernsey in the Channel Islands to challenge for the cash and rankings points on offer.
Last year there was a 12-strong entry from the Netherlands and event promoter Les France of LF Promotions has high hopes that the “orange army” will turn out in force again.
Twelve months ago, Ron Meulenkamp carried the Netherlands hopes to the stage but he had to give second best to Ted Hankey, The Count winning his first Manx title. With the Shropshire-based double world champ deciding to leave the BDO, the way is open for world championship qualifier Meulenkamp to step up.
But it will not be an easy task with three times world champ Martin Adams, 2001 world title holder John Walton and Lakeside runner-up and recently crowned Dutch Open winner Tony O’Shea all keen to get their names on the impressive Manx trophy for the first time.
At the time of writing world champion Christian Kist was still to make a decision on whether he was to travel to the Irish Sea venue for the first time. His manager confirmed there was an open diary and an appearance in the Manx festival was a possibility.
With many of those who appeared at Frimley Green with debutant Kist joining top-line county players on the oche at the Villa Marina, the 27th island festival promises to serve up some top class action.
And for islanders there is the honour of becoming the first Manxman in the history of the tournament to appear on stage in the semi finals of “the big one” – the men’s singles.
England international Deta Hedman - runner-up in January’s world championship to Russian Anastasia Dobromyslova – re-wrote the tournament history books last year when she collected her fifth Manx title.
In the final she thwarted Wales’ Julie Gore, who was also chasing her fifth title. She had yet another disappointing world championship in January and will be keen to re-establish her hold on the Manx tournament. She has already signalled her intentions for a good 2012, lifting the Dutch Open women’s title.
Nine times world champ Trina Gulliver will also have her eyes on a third Manx title, having failed to reach the women’s world final for the first time in the history of the event. The Somerset sharpshooter crashed to Dobromyslova in a tense semi final clash.
The East European – who now has two world titles under her belt – has never won the Manx championship and she will be keen to consolidate her Frimley Green success with a good run in the island tournament. Organisers are hoping for a bumper turnout for the women’s singles after again pledging support for ladies darts with a £3000 top prize and cash prizes down to the last 64.
Steam Packet Holidays are offering a £100 bonus to the local resident getting furthest in the men’s and women’s singles competitions.
Supporting the main events – the men’s and women’s singles – are mixed pairs, men’s and women’s doubles, plus the island playoffs for the Winmau World Masters Youth competition.
For early arrivals on the island the festival opens on Thursday night (March 8) with a winner-takes-all knockout competition, supported by Okells Brewery.
The following night will see the mixed doubles and Winmau World Master Youth playoffs being staged, with the men’s and women’s singles played down to the semi finals on Saturday.
Sunday will see the men’s and women’s double competitions staged, followed by the finals of all competitions immediately afterwards.
Despite the effects of the worldwide recession, the island’s Department of Tourism has again pledged its backing for the sport and their support for the annual festival confirms their high regard for the tournament as an important event on the tourism calendar.
The arrival of 1000 plus players and supporters so early in the calendar provides the island with a good springboard for the year.
As well as support from the Department of Tourism (visitisleofman.com), the festival attracts support and backing from the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company, Okells Brewery, Winmau and Sleepwell Hotels.
Further details are available from Les France on 0161 793 6909 / 07974 806168. Players from the Isle of Man interested in taking part should contact John Denny on 01624 824951.
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