Stephen Bunting became the 23rd new name to go on the prestigious Isle of Man International Festival of Darts Men’s Singles trophy after triumphing over Darryl Fitton 4-2 in the final at the Villa Marina in Douglas.
Fast-throwing Bunting hit a maximum and two 15-darters on his way to the title and there was a new winner in the Women’s Singles as Lakeside World Champion Anastasia Dobromyslova beat Lisa Ashton 4-0 in a repeat of January's Lakeside world final.
The Russian star hit an 80 finish and 14 dart leg to claim the £3,000 first prize.
The seafront at Douglas was battered by high winds and sky-high waves, but inside one of dart’s most prestigious venue temperatures soared as the world’s best did battle over four days for a share of the £23,000 on offer, rankings points and places for the singles winners in the 2013 Winmau World Masters.
The four day tournament kicked off with the annual Okells “Early Bird” £1000 “winner takes all” competition. And it provided the right tonic to encourage islanders to try their hand in the festival as former West Midlander Wayne Harrison, who now lives on the island powered into the final.
There was 140 hopefuls on the oche for the competition and it was Harrison, who celebrates 10 years of living on the Isle of Man next month, who got locals cheering as he battle to the last four where he despatched Greater Manchester’s Steve Green to surge into the final.
The second semi saw Powys’ Jim Williams overcome the challenge of former England international Tony Eccles.
Harrison, who was bidding to emulate fellow islander Colin Tyrer’s victory in the same competition two years ago failed to use the throwing advantage and lost the opening leg, but bounced back with 100 and 137 scores to level.
In the next Williams missed double tops for a 68 finish and Harrison swept home his favourite double 16, firing out a maximum as he clinched victory in the next on double one.
In the Winmau Youth Singles there were 21 entrants and it was diminutive Natasha Eaves who won through in the top half. Tash, just 13, from Fleetwood, fought back after losing the opening leg to topple Joe Davis of Hove (Sussex) 2-1, exiting with an 86 flourish (double 18, 18,double 16).
Her opponent in the final was Joe Singleton ,who beat his friend Keiran Goffin in an all-Morecambe Semi Final clash 2-0.
Eaves, mature for her age, hit a ton and then clinched the opening leg with a 71 checkout, finished on double tops, firing out a brace of 140s as she moved ominously into a 2-0 lead. She clinched victory with a 15-dart leg, earning a place in the Winmau World Masters youth championship in October.
More than 200 teams started the Mixed Pairs competition, with reigning Lakeside World Champion Scott Waites and partner Dee Bateman earning a place in the final after defeating the powerful duo of Martin Adams and Trina Gulliver, who between them have 12 world championship titles.
Stephen Bunting and Anastasia Dobromyslova won through in the bottom half of the draw after dashing the hopes of the Robbie Green/Deta Hedman pairing in the other Semi Final clash.
It was Bateman who drew first blood in the final, clinching a 54 finish on double tops, and then spurred by a 180 from Waites, she obliged by clinching the match-winning double 16 as they celebrated their 2-0 win over Bunting and Dobromyslova.
Around 112 entries lined up for the Women's Pairss, with the highly fancied duo of Trina Gulliver and Lisa Ashton failing to reach the last eight, toppled by Irina Armstrong and Aileen de Graaf.
Tamara Schurr and Sharon Prins defeated Heather Lodge and Sas Bode to win through in the top half of the draw, while Lorraine Farlam and Anastasia Dobromyslova scored a Semi Final success over Paula Jacklin and Sue Gulliver in the bottom half of the draw.
Farlam and Dobromyslova had success on their minds as they fired out three 100s to set up a double 10 exit to claim the first leg. Despite two 140s from their opponents it was Farlam and Dobromyslova who clinched victory.
It was Glen Durrant and Tony Eccles who thwarted an all-Dutch final by toppling Remco van Eijden and Joey ten Berg 2-0.
The Dutchman fired out 121, 125 scores but a ton and then 180 from Eccles steered the north of England partnership to the opening leg. In the next there was 140 and 100 scores plus another maximum from in-form Eccles as the England duo clinched a 14-dart match-winning victory on double 16.
Disappointed Dutch player and former world champion Francis Hoenselaar was unable to defend her Women’s Single title after breaking an arm in a cycling accident as a record field of 144 players stepped up to the oche to challenge for the top prize.
Islanders struggled against the top flight opposition from the mainland UK and the Netherlands – but five players from the Isle of Man managed to get through to their board Semi Finals before finding the pace too hot to handle.
Those expected to perform well safely negotiated their board finals and on to the Quarter Finals, where former double champ Trina Gulliver dismissed Lorraine Farlam 3-0 to set up a Semi Final showdown with Lisa Ashton, the 3-1 conqueror of Irina Armstrong.
Julie Gore, chasing a record-equalling five titles looked on course after twice leading World Champion Anastasia Dobromyslova, but the cool Russian levelled and booked her place in the last four with a 47 checkout, finished on double 16.
Her opponent was five times Manx champion Deta Hedman, who came through a tense five leg clash with Aileen de Graaf of the Netherlands, after losing the opening leg. Hedman surged into the Semi Finals with a faultless 90 finish completed with double 10.
In the first Semi the Russian World Champion signalled her intentions by twice leading the five times Manx title winner. Hedman levelled with a 90 checkout, completed on bull , but Dobromyslova replied with a 100 finish, completed on a match-winning double tops.
A lack lustre performance from the nine times world champion Trina Gulliver, who was struggling with the effects of a hip problem, saw her uncharacteristically go 2-0 down in her Semi Final clash with England colleague Lisa Ashton. She battled to find the 60 segment and was punished in the third leg by power-scoring from Ashton, who coasted through 3-0 with double 18.
In the final Dobromyslova signalled her title intentions by following up 140,121 and 100 scores with an eye-catching 80 checkout. More power-scoring – including a 140 and 136 – paved the way for her to annex the leg against the throwing advantage in just 14 darts.
There was more of the same in the third leg as 100, 140 and 123 scores steered her to a 3-0 lead with double six, Ashton’s confidence draining from her as memories of her World Championship defeat at the hands of Anastasia must have come flooding back.
Both hit 140s in the fourth leg, but Ashton missed double 18 for a match-saving 68 as cool Dobromyslova – also requiring 68 - swept in the title-winning double 16.
Comeback man Andy Fordham had big crowds following him as he bid to recapture the form that took him to the Lakeside world title. He acknowledges he still has a long way to go but is improving with each outing. He took his place among the 520 starters and steamed into board final before going out, well pleased with his performance.
John Walton was a non starter in the island event and Martin Adams ended up on the sidelines after failing to negotiate his board qualifying rounds. Losing world finalist Tony O’Shea, Willy van de Wiel and veteran Welsh left-hander Martin Phillips were also left to reflect on what might have been.
Nine Manx players – inspired perhaps by the feat of Wayne Harrison in the Okells competition - fought their way to the board finals before having to concede defeat to their more experienced opponents.
Gary Robson – winner in 2007 – failed to make the last 32, along with Richie George, Alan Norris, Ross Montgomery, Jan Dekker, Wesley Harms, Glen Durrant and Scott Mitchell.
Feisty left-hander Steve Douglas form Kent battled into the Quarter Finals, where he dismissed Jamie Bain 3-1 to set up a Semi Final encounter with Darryl Fitton, who beat Mick Nixon by the same scoreline.
In the bottom half of the draw, Scott Waites was warming to the challenge of lifting his first Manx title, toppling Rick Hofstra and then grounding another flying Dutchman - Jeffrey de Graaf, the defending champ - who fell 3-1 to the Yorkshireman.
Waites’ Semi Final opponent was Stephen Bunting, who took out Yorkshire danger man Garry Thompson and then delivered the bullet to Martin Atkins to book a place in the penultimate stage with Waites.
A thrill-a-minute encounter was promised by fast-throwers Bunting and Waites, and they did not disappoint, enacting a five leg thriller at breakneck speed. Bunting hit a 140 and 180 as he annexed the opening leg, against the throw in 12 darts, opening up a 2-0 lead with a 15 darter, despite a brace of 140s for Scotty.
Throwing first Waites clinched the third after both players nervously missed doubles and then annexed the fourth against the throw on double eight after narrowly missing bull for a show-stopping 170 with his previous set of darts.
Bunting won “the bull” in the fifth leg and drove home the advantage, recovering from an opening 45 to follow it with scores of 100,180, 140, setting himself up for the match-winning double 18 – his 13th dart of the leg.
Unfortunately, the eagerly anticipated second Semi Final clash between Steve Douglas and Darryl Fitton had to be cancelled after MC Andy Firth announced that the popular Kent player had been taken ill and had been forced to fly home, leaving “The Dazzler” with a walkover. Everyone sends best wishes to Steve for a speedy recovery.
The methodical slow-throwing Fitton knew he had to try to disrupt the fast throwing Bunting if he was to clinch his second Manx title and he took the opening leg with the throw, but Bunting swept back , firing out a maximum to level. The next two legs went with the throw, but then Fitton missed three doubles for double 12 to move ahead as Bunting pounced to go 3-2 ahead.
With the throwing advantage in the sixth leg, Stephen his a 140 and two tons as Fitton desperately searched for a big score, leaving a grateful and jubilant Bunting to clinch the title with double 16.
He becomes the 23rd different winner of the men’s singles during the 28-year history and the 24th Englishman to land the title.
Just prior to the start of the tournament Specsavers stepped in to offer a special £1000 award to the first player in the men or women’s singles to hit the perfect nine dart game.
No-one was successful - perhaps they should have gone to Specsavers!!
Okells Jubilee Trophy (winner-takes-all)
1 W Harrison £1000; 2 J Williams; 3= S Green, T Eccles ; 5-8 B Davies, D Ayres, T Brentgartner, V Holden ; 9-16 P Boughey, A Edwards, A Toft, I Fields, M Bushby, M Wilson, B Reeve, A Gudgeon .
Winmau World Masters Youth playoffs
1 N Eaves £160; 2 J Singleton £80; 3= J Davis, K Goffin £40; 5-8 S Weaver, I Weaver, J Rindred, P Kelly £20
1 S Waites/D Bateman £500; 2 S Bunting/A Dobromyslova £250; 3= M Adams/T Gulliver, R Green/D Hedman £125; 5-8 A Kerr/C Kerr, F Jones/F Sherrock, B Davies/R Davies, R Meulenkamp/S Prins £60; 9-16 L Shewan/K Thompson, T Gregory/R Sheard, P Brown/I Armstrong, D Fitton/C Halliday, D Simpson/S Leslie, B de Hoog/A de Graaf, J Wilson/R Brooks, T Junghans/C Rudin £40
1 L Farlam/A Dobromyslova £400; 2 T Schurr/S Prins £200; 3= H Lodge/S Bode, P Jacklin/S Gulliver £100; 5-8 I Armstong/A de Graaf, G Davies/S Thornbury, D Bateman/R Brooks, D Hedman/F Sherrock £50; 9-16 L Ashton/T Gulliver, T Hughes/T Cunningham, D Shaw/A Smith, S Reading/M Riggs, N Jones/G Jones, D Cannan/V Cannan, C Rudin/R Bussard, P Povah/S Leslie £30
1 G Durrant/T Eccles £500; 2 G d Vos/£250; 3= J Dekker/M Meulenkamp, R v Eijden/J ten Berg £125; 5-8 J Hurrelly/M Blanford, S Bunting/B v d Pas, W Harms/J de Graaf, G Durrant/T Eccles £60; 9-16 D Coulton/D Speak, B Hallis/P Jaques, D Fitton/A Fordham, M Oosterhuis/R Hofstra, J Cooper/T Richardson, R Green/A Norris, R Corrin/W Coulter, S Heywood/J Tucci £40.
1 A Dobromyslova £3000; 2 L Ashton £1000; 3= D Hedman, T Gulliver £400; 5-8 J Gore, A de Graaf, I Armstrong, L Farlam £100; 9-16 A Kuijen, B Martin, R Brookes, A Underwood, T Schurr, C Stainsby, K Wilkinson, S Prins £50; 17-32 F Sherrock, T Cunningham, S Gulliver, F Lawson, R Davies, D Shaw, L McGarraghy, H Partington, C Smith, D Bateman, J Clements, A Smith, C Gallagher, K Conway, B Evans, T Marran £20; 33-64 A Entwistle, R Bussard, Z Nettleship, S Wilson, M Riggs, V Oliphant, Z Jones, H Lodge, P Primrose, S Jordan, G Davies, J Avrill, P Jackin, S Witten, V Hargrove, S Martin, K McGivern, J Thompson, E Allan, K Hoggarth,D Charleson, R Robertson, A Waslin, T Wright, T Hughes, P Hind, N Williams, E Little, A McDonald, R Griffiths, S Leslie, W Turton,£10.
1 S Bunting £5000; 2 D Fitton £1000; 3= S Waites, S Douglas £500; 5-8 J Bain, M Nixon, J d Graaf, M Atkins £125; 9-16 T Eccles, P Borthwick, G Stafford, B v d Pas, R Hofstra, R v Eijden, G Thompson, M Blanford £50; 17-32 B Hallas, P Knighton, D Clifford, G Robson, B Fairley, A Edwards, R George, R Arrowsmith, J Welding, A Norris, R Montgomery, J Dekker, W Harms, M Carvill, G Durrant, S Mitchell £30; 33-64 C Tyrer, R Winder, M Phillips, C Loudon, G Stowe, J Wilson, M Oversby, T Gregory, D Bellard, B de Hoog, A Young, P Lancaster, B Balaban, T O’Shea, D Gyst, M Smith, G O’Donnell, M Smallshaw, S Head, G Uren, R Lawson, J Cooper, P Rodgers, S Davies, P Roberts, C Devine, A Fordham, M Smedley, R Nelson, D Hale, J Williams, L Grimshaw £20