"We give tacky a new meaning,” laughed Al McLeod, about Al Flutie’s 24th Over-the-Hill Sailfish Tournament on Jan. 21-22. "This event gives a genuine reflection of the character of Keys people, always helping those in need in our island chain,” added McLeod.
Flutie, a popular Islamorada guide and radio fishing show host along with Dick Sheppard, Socko Gorenflo and Rip Tosun began the originally named Al Flutie Over-the-Hill Rip-Off Sailfish Tournament, which a quarter century later is still the only senior’s sailfish tournament in the world.
It benefits two very worthy causes: 1) MARC the Monroe Association of ReMARCable Citizens of the Keys and 2) Redbone celebrity tournaments for cystic fibrosis cure research.
“Flutie loved throwing parties and his co-horts always had a reason by finding a good community cause to help,” said Capt. Gary Ellis, of the now 25-year old Redbone series.
The historic seniors’ catch-and-release competition kicks off Monday afternoon, Jan. 21 at Gary Dunn’s Ocean View Inn (MM 84.5 bayside), with fishing, great stories, live and silent auctions, dinner and awards on Jan. 22.
“We keep the entry fee affordable, make certain the food is top-notch, provide outstanding trophies and more,” added local radio show host Bill Kelly. “We throw in lots of fun and camaraderie and hope the fishing is up to par. Even if the fishing is slow we have all the ingredients for a highly successful event.”
The Over the Hill has far-reaching appeal attracting not only locals but many anglers from northern states. It’s also attracted the attention of mentions in AARP’s national newsletter.
Anyone can participate but only those 50 years and older are eligible for trophies and prizes.
Former event co-chairmen Kelly and McLeod said the latest reports of sailfish action are very strong in the Florida Keys.
Over $420,000 raised for local and national charities with zero administrative costs. Corinne Triviski, tournament director, said tournament originators are extremely proud of their event’s history of profits for charities. With zero administrative dollars paid out of the profits more than $420,000 has been donated to numerous charities
“Because it’s an all volunteer effort there’s no administrative fees taken from tournament proceeds. Other than covering operating expenses, every penny raised goes to the charities.
"It’s heart-warming knowing we’re helping to make a difference,” said Ellis. “The life span for those afflicted with CF has tripled and grows each and every day. Scientists are on the cusp to finding a cure for this disease and that's part of our mission. Also helping to preserve the valuable work of MARC of the Keys is fundamental to our community character. Keys residents have always stepped up to the plate when locals need help and support. That's what it's all about."
More tournament information and downloadable entry forms are on the MARC website at www.marchouse.org.