Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic
Once again, the world-famous Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic at Sandestin topped the $1.4-million-dollar mark in prize money for 2011, further establishing this event as one of the finest (not to mention richest) in the world.
Seventy-one teams from across the world of sportfishing, some as far away as Africa, Costa Rica, Mexico and Spain, gathered at the Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort for the tournament, which was held June 21-26th to compete for a total purse of $1,454,225.
After the usual registration and rules meeting, the participants were treated to a spectacular welcome party sponsored by HataBoix. Once the fishing officially commenced on Thursday, teams spread out far and wide among points of the compass, some electing to head as far west as South Pass, Louisiana, while others chose to fish well to the south or east of the tournament site. Those who chose wisely were rewarded with outstanding billfishing action, while others managed good numbers of gamefish like Team Galati, winner of the 2011 ECBC, with their check for $135,577.50wahoo, dolphin and tuna but were blanked on the marlin and sailfish.
Team Galati, led by Capt. Craig Clark, guessed correctly. Representing Galati Yacht Sales and fishing aboard a 76-foot Viking yacht, the team tallied releases on five white marlin and one blue marlin to score 1,400 points and win the tournament’s Release Division. For this accomplishment, they not only pocketed $135,577 in prize money but will also have their name permanently displayed on the Magnificent Blue Perpetual Trophy. Team Galati also received an invitation to compete in the 2012 IGFA Offshore Championship.
No blue marlin exceeded the tournament’s requirements for minimum length so 100 percent of the billfish were released during the event. Finishing in second place in the Release Division was the Life Is Good team, fishing aboard a 60-foot Hatteras led by Capt. Ben Levi. The team released one blue marlin and two white marlin to tally 800 points and $93,195. They were followed by Titanium 5.0, Michael Burroughs and the team on Quick Time weigh in the Top Dolphin.a 62-foot Buddy Davis captained by Mark “Sparky” McCann, who released one blue marlin and one white marlin for the tournament, earning them $46,365.
The Top Release Angler was Jason Benton, fishing aboard Hello Darlin’ with two blue marlin released. Benton is also the Top WBS Angler and will be invited to attend the 2012 WBS Grand Championships in Los Suenos, Costa Rica.
In the always-popular gamefish division, the big winner was Quick Time, a 56-foot Ocean Yacht captained by Patrick Ivie. Angler Michael Burroughs landed a 44-pound dolphin to win $127,053. They were followed by Wynsong, a Bertram 63 captained by Harold Staples, who weighed in a 38.6-pound dolphin to win $106,175.
In the wahoo division, Capt. Jimmy Crochet led the Conundrum team, fishing aboard a 61-foot Viking, to victory with a 59.2-pound fish caught by Don MacMaster, winning $85,428. Glenn Summers, fishing aboard Summertime II, a 31-foot Albemarle, came in The top yellowfin tuna at the scales with angler Allen Phillips and the Blanchita team.second for $32,262 with a 42.2-pounder.
Topping the tuna division was Blanchita, a 60-foot Bertram. Angler Allen Phillips scaled a 166.7-pound yellowfin to win $56,808 followed by Sari Turner fishing aboard the 72-foot F&S You Never Know! with a 128.0-pound yellowfin worth $69,185.
As usual, the Saturday evening weigh-in went on well into the night, with thousands of spectators gathered to witness the spectacle. Scores of teams lined up to weigh in their catch, knowing there could be tens of thousands of dollars on the line. This was followed by the equally famous Sunday morning awards brunch, a sumptuous feast prepared for the participating anglers and crews prior to the awards presentation. It’s a much-anticipated part of this annual tournament.
For the tournament there were 14 blue marlin, 28 white marlin and two sailfish released during the event. There were 92 gamefish weighed in: 54 dolphin, 24 yellowfin and seven blackfin tunas and seven wahoo.
Don MacMaster celebrates his 59.2-pound wahoo.The 2011 Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic at Sandestin was presented by Mojo Sportfishing Gear.
The 10th Annual Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic at Sandestin will be held June 19-24, 2012.
For more information about the event, contact Tournament Director Shawna Meisner at 850-267-6168, or find information online at www.fishecbc.com. For more information about Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort, call 800-470-7389 or visit www.sandestin.com.