THE Isle of Man team for this year’s NatWest Island Games in Bermuda is unlikely to exceed 100, including officials.
It will almost certainly be the smallest Manx team to contest the Games, inaugurated by the Isle of Man in 1985, purely down to the financial costs and geographical logistics involved travelling to the venue approximately 1,000 kilometres east of North Carolina in the North Atlantic Ocean.
The Isle of Man will participate in 10 of the 15 sports and the breakdown of figures (including officials) is: athletics 15, badminton 11, cycling 16, women’s golf five, gymnastics 15, swimming 13, tennis nine, triathlon seven, sailing one, shooting two.
Joint team managers are once again Jill Gillings and Gary Jakeman, with Catherine Tunley assistant team manager and Frank Vaughan team doctor.
There will be no Manx represention in football, basketball, men’s golf or volleyball, while there are only two shooters - normally one of the Isle of Man’s strongest disciplines. They will be travelling independently of the main team.
The Isle of Man normally sends four sailors for the Laser events (Isle of Wight also included windsurfing), but on this occasion the only representative will be 2010 RS Tera Women’s World Champion Hannah Howitt, who turned 18 on Saturday.
This will be her third Games as she competed as a swimmer in Aland and Isle of Wight. She will be travelling to Bermuda with her parents.
Two of the sports not included in the 2013 Games, but normally contested by the Manx, are table tennis and archery.
‘Duration is another major factor for the shortage in numbers,’ admits Gary Jakeman. ‘Most of the team will be away from home for at least 10 days, but the cyclists leave the Isle of Man on Monday, July 8 and don’t return until Tuesday, July 23 so its a long stint and an expensive trip for them.
‘Overall figures from the competing countries are generally down so islands have been given additional time until February 13 to submit entries in an attempt to motivate more interest.’
The Isle of Man team figures had to be finalised early because of availability on planes and accommodation in Bermuda. Most will be put up in schools, but others - such as gymnastics and golf - are staying in hotels near to their venues. Gymnastics will take place in the north-east, close to the airport, while the golfers will be at the bottom end of the island at Port Royal.
Some of the Manx triathletes are travelling independently via the United States and staying in homestay accommodation while in Bermuda.
Swimming looks like being one of the highlights of the Games. Competition will take place in a purpose built open air 50-metre international pool with full aquatic facilities, including high-diving boards.
TransAtlantic travel has been arranged through jet charter company Hunter and Palmer. It is likely that the main BA flight from Gatwick on Thursday, July 11 will also include competitors from Shetland Islands, Orkney and Ynys Mon (Anglesey).
It is expected that with the cost of combined flights more than £1,100 per person and accommodation at least 75 Bermudian dollars per night, competitors will be faced with expenses somewhere in the region of £2,000 each.
The last long-haul trip to the Aland Games in Finland four years ago cost £1,100 all-in. Isle of Man took a large team of 240 to Isle of Wight in 2011 when costs were relatively cheap.
While the first Island Games to go outside the British Isles, Scandinavia and Europe is likely to enjoy an idyllic setting in extremely high temperatures it also looks certain to be the smallest on record.