Top national and international fishing teams head to the Florida Keys to battle sailfish during the 11th annual World Sailfish Championship, presented by Bass Pro Shops. The tournament is scheduled Wednesday through Sunday, April 10-14, with a new invitation-only format.
The sailfish spectacular offers three days of competitive angling, complemented by social and charity events. It is scheduled for Wednesday, April 10, with a 1-4 p.m. final registration at tournament headquarters at the Westin Key West Resort & Marina.
According to chairman and founder Chris King, the prize purse should exceed $1 million in 2013. King said more than $10 million has been awarded since 2003.
The 2013 World Sailfish Championship will serve as a memorial to General Norman Schwarzkopf, Jr., who was the Championship's co-founder and honorary chairman for six years before his passing on Dec. 27, 2012.
This year's event will now feature four divisions, led by the Four-Star division, named in honor of Schwarzkopf's standing as a four-star general. This division is considered the Open Division and will feature the professional sailfish teams competing in the tournament.
The Three-Star division is for non-professionals and only anglers who have not competed in more than three sailfish tournaments during the past 12 months or anglers who have not placed in the Top 3 in any sailfish tournaments in the past five years more than once. There will be a fun fish event added to this division, which will be open to all participants as well.
The Two-Star division will allow anglers to fish for their favorite charity and the One-Star division will recognize women and junior anglers.
The mandatory captains meeting is set for 5:30 p.m., followed by a kick-off party, color guard presentation and military flyover. Fishing starts with lines in the water at 8 a.m. Thursday and Friday, April 11 and 12. Lines-out is 3:30 p.m. both days. After a nonfishing "lay day" Saturday, Sunday's fishing is from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. The anglers' awards banquet will be at the Westin's Sunset Key Guest Cottages at 6 p.m. Sunday.
Competitive angling teams are to request an invitation to participate. The entry fee is $8,000 plus tax per boat for five anglers and a designated captain, and includes six VIP social passes and six gift bags. For more details, go to www.worldsailfish.com.
In 2012, Team Sandman won the World Sailfish Championship:
In recognition of Schwarzkopf's long-standing association with the tournament, the World Sailfish Championship will feature Camp Boggy Creek, Schwarzkopf's own charity, as its main benefactor.
Camp Boggy Creek is a permanent year-round center offering young people with life-threatening illnesses a camping experience at no cost to their families. The entire cost of staffing and operating the camp, located on 232 acres of woodland in Eustis, Fla., is covered by contributions from individuals and collaborating organizations.
Any boat owner interested in receiving an invitation to fish in the World Sailfish Championship is asked to submit an inquiry to Sheri Richards at the World Fishing Tour by calling 404-787-3210.