Linda Wood takes her best shot. Photos by Ralph Stewart

By Linda Wood - May 4, 2006

The darts were flying at the Portuguese-American Club (PA) in Oak Bluffs last weekend as the Martha's Vineyard Dart League (MVDL) hosted their 28th annual Dart Tournament, sponsored by the Holy Ghost Association of Oak Bluffs and Budweiser.

The tournament, a three-day event, is sanctioned by the American Darts Organization (ADO). Winning singles players belonging to an ADO-member league achieve national ranking. This weekend offered a chance to take home a piece of a $3,045 prize pool as well as trophies for first and second place single darters and teams.

"We love coming here every year," said Bob Elliott from the Cape Cod Dart League. "We'd come and play no matter what the prize pool is."

Indeed, many darters from off-Island have been making the trip to the Vineyard for this tournament since the early 1980s. Many people gladly confess, "I've been coming here for over 20 years!"

Oak Bluffs artist and dart league member Tim Corner hand-painted T-shirts that he designed for this year's tournament.

"It's great," said MVDL President Charlene Alley, "So many familiar faces and old friends. It's always a good time."

Overall attendance is always a concern, however. "If there are other Northeast-area tournaments scheduled for the same weekend, our attendance goes down", says Ms. Alley. "We never know what to expect."

Still, there are some players who plan their trip to the Island months in advance. "I never miss it," says Reggie Winbush from the Minute Man Dart League from the Boston area. "There are friends here that I only see once a year."

Some players, like Reggie, can stay with friends on the Island when they come. Others make reservations far in advance. The Island Inn on Beach Road in Oak Bluffs offers a special "darter's rate" for this weekend.

Many Island players won prizes at this year's event.

Dave Bettencourt and Tom Norton won second place in Friday night's "Luck of the Draw." Ken Cottrill took third and Wayne George placed among the top eight winners.

Charlene Alley won first place in the Mixed Doubles games on Saturday and Dave Bettencourt and Laurie Maciel won third/fourth place. Dave Bettencourt and Robert O'Sullivan took second place in Open Doubles and Charlene Alley and Laurie Maciel won first place in Ladies' Doubles. Charlene Alley was also on the winning Mixed Triples team, and Robert and David O'Sullivan and Linda Wood won third place. Lee Bachand won third/fourth in Ladies' Singles, as did Charlene Alley. Dave Bettencourt took second in Men's Singles, and Tom Norton took third place.

Melinda Silvia, Sue Madeiras, and Jenny Pye working hard in the kitchen.

The Tournament takes place every year in the "old bar" at the PA Club, as well as another function room. The two are joined by the kitchen, which is open the entire time. The PA Club's Benevolent Committee volunteers dedicated their time and talents, serving up a great menu of items, including chowder, burgers, and steak bombs, and even breakfast on Saturday and Sunday. All proceeds benefitted the Benevolent Committee.

Island darter Tim Corner designed a new T-shirt for the event, and spent his weekend hand-painting his design for buyers. Robert and David O'Sullivan always have darts and dart accessories for sale at the event.

It's a serious game for many players, and there is a high level of intensity during the games. When final matches are played, the room fills up with spectators cheering on their friends. The noise level is high and the energy higher, and win or lose, a good time is had by all.

Linda Wood is the Times classified advertising manager and vice president of the Martha's Vineyard Dart League.