Guernsey Harbours have prevented them from using the favoured swim venue due to safety concerns, instead allowing the Careening Hard as an alternative.
Ahead of the first ever triathlon relay to be held at an Island Games, organiser Sean Murphy had been very hopeful of using the marina.
‘We were initially really disappointed to hear that Guernsey Harbours felt it wasn’t safe to swim in the Victoria Marina and weren’t given the opportunity to address their safety concerns,’ the Guernsey Triathlon Club stalwart said.
‘We have to respect that this is a commercially-run harbour and respect the harbour master and Guernsey Ports decision-making process.’
In diplomatic fashion, Murphy called the arrival of a large French sailing regatta the same week as the Games ‘unfortunate’ and considered that July is a busy month for visiting boats anyway.
But he admitted that a marina swim would have emulated certain professional races and raised the appeal of the event.
‘A number of pro races have the swims based in marinas, including the Super League events that were based in Jersey.
‘It really makes for a fantastic spectacle and would have been a great showcase for Guernsey and the harbours in what will be the final Town-based event of the Games in an exciting day of Town centre racing, following the half marathon and cycling road racing criterium.’
Although the alternative swim venue changes the dynamic, has trickier transitions and is arguably less spectator-friendly, Murphy called it a ‘good second choice’.
‘It’s still fairly central to Town and we are working hard to ensure it is an excellent course and event for both athletes and spectators, particularly as this is the first time the triathlon relay will feature in the Games.
‘We are excited to make the first Island Games mixed team triathlon relay an event to be remembered and hopefully repeated in future Games.’
A Triathlon Club representative had contacted Guernsey Harbours following the decision and questioned the safety concerns, especially given that the Harbour Carnival runs annually using the same marina.
A Guernsey Ports spokesman told the Guernsey Press that the timing of the event was a major factor.
‘Harbour staff raised some safety concerns, given that the event is scheduled at a time when the marina is expected to be extremely congested, and when a large number of boats would normally be moving to and from berths,’ he said.
‘After some internal discussion an alternative route, using the clearer waters contained within the Careening Hard, was proposed. Harbour staff have offered to discuss this further with the [Guernsey 2023] committee, but that invitation has not yet been taken up.
‘Guernsey Ports, and in particular the harbour team, understand the importance of this event and will continue to work with the organising committee to ensure its success.’
Emma Beardsell, deputy Games director, said the organising committee have been working closely with all sports, Traffic and Highways and Ports and Harbours on requirements for the Games for many months.
‘Everyone involved has been very supportive and of great help,’ she added.
‘An event of this size does create a number of challenges, and everyone involved is keen to showcase Guernsey in the best possible light but at the same time, we have to consider all necessary infrastructure and logistical challenges to enable us to do this effectively and safely.
‘Planning is still ongoing – we will keep everyone informed and would like to thank all those involved for their support so far.’