Lawn dart tournament organizers are urging safety at Saturday’s double-elimination contest (illustration courtesy of Cori Anders)
A group of sports enthusiasts Wednesday announced Blacktip Island’s first underwater lawn dart tournament will take place Saturday afternoon in the Diddley’s Landing sand flats to raise money for local charities.
“We had fun with lawn darts when we were kids and wanted to relive that,” Hugh Calloway said. “Rosie Bottoms found an old set from back in the ‘70s, and we tried them out on the beach. Alcohol was involved, and we had some close calls, safety-wise. That’s when we hit on the idea of using them underwater.
“They move slower in the water, so even if one does hit you, it’s not going quite as fast,” Calloway said. “You get the same adrenaline rush, but without as much potential pain. We wear lead hard-hat diving boots so you stick to the bottom, and helmets are recommended. Full face if possible.”
Players raved about the game.
“I smile seeing young people experience the joys and terrors of Jarts,” Cori Anders said. “It’s like horseshoes, or cornhole, but with big metal spikes raining down. I mean, sure, they’re moving slower, but with those lead boots, you can’t run when one’s coming right at you.
“It’ll be a double-elimination tournament, with any scuba-certified resident or guest encouraged to enter,” Anders said. “The winner gets what we’re sure will be the coveted Golden Jart trophy. We’ll also have Marissa the nurse standing by, just in case.”
Some residents focused on the game’s historical context.
“These darts are modeled on the ancient Roman plumbata,” Society for Creative Anachronism chapter Seneschal Catalina Luxfer said. “Roman foot soldiers would lob them at enemy formations, much like modern dart enthusiasts do. They did incredible damage. And with the darts moving slower in the water, we can study more precisely the dynamics of their flight and impact and improve the design.”
Others questioned the safety of the event.
“Lawn darts were banned a long time ago for a bloody-good reason,” Reg Gurnard said. “They were impaling people left and right. Killing children, even. Reviving this horror, even underwater, will get people hurt. If one’s coming at you, the most you can do is lean away. It’s still a heavy, sharp spearhead flying at you.”
Calloway downplayed those concerns.
“We’ve run trial tourneys underwater and no one’s been hurt. Much,” he said. “The biggest problem has been barracudas swooping in and nipping at the shiny spikes and knocking them off course and into players. But that adds to the excitement, really. And it’s for a good cause.”
Proceeds from the tournament will go to the Blacktip Island Divemaster Retirement Fund. The tournament can be viewed in person by certified divers, or on a live feed at Sandy Bottoms’ Beach Resort bar.