Monday, July 28, 2014

IGFA Great Marlin Race Gets Off to a Roaring Start

Today marks the opening day of the 55th Annual Hawaiian International Billfish Tournament in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. It is also the sixth year for the Great Marlin Race, which was launched here in celebration of the HIBT's 50th Anniversary.

As the teams started arriving at the "Shouting Room" (a giant open-air tent where the angling teams assemble before and after fishing), the IGFA's Eric Combast and I knew that we had our work cut out for us. We had lined up sponsors for 4-1/2 of the 10 tags we had with us, and being optimists, we brought 6 down.

Within minutes, Whangaroa Billfish Club's Keith Allan stepped forward and offered to sponsor a tag to send out with his lovely wife Janice. I was happy to oblige, and glad to have their continued support in this year's race.

I set up tags for Rocky Franich from the Pajaro Valley Game Fish Club, Ralph Czabayski of the Game Fishing Club of South Australia, and last year's winning team of Mitchell and Marty Firestein, who are fishing this year as part of the Laguna Niguel Billfish Club.

Marty Firestein shows off his new IGMR lure while Mitch looks on.

I had the pleasure of getting on Humdinger with co-founders of the Great Marlin Race, Bob and Sally Kurz, also with Laguna Niguel. It was just coming up on 10 AM when a nice 250 lb. blue came up on the short rigger. Sally was in the chair and watched this great fish grayhound across the surface about 50 yards off the stern. Once she dove, though, the fight was on. Sally settled in for a tough battle, gaining only six inches of line at a time. 

Sally Kurz battles a nice blue while husband Bob (left) and deckhand Brett Fay (right) provide support. 

After more than an hour, deckhand Brett Fay leadered the marlin alongside the boat, setting up Bob Kurz for a perfect shot with the tag. Moments later she was away, swimmimng strong.

As it turned out, this was actually the second satellite deployed so far today - the first being the one Keith Allan sponsored this morning, which was placed on a marlin while Sally was battling hers.

This is a fantastic start to the event, and hopefully marks the beginning of a great week. Keep checking back!