The 30th Annual World Cup Blue Marlin Championship (World Cup) came to a nail biting conclusion on July 4 in Kona, Hawaii.
This unique world wide competition is fished for eight hours in each teams' time zone. It's a one day, winner take all, blue marlin that are only more than 500 pounds event. Many of the world's most respected big game captains and anglers take part in many big blue marlin hot spots such as New Guinea, Portugal, Canary Islands, the Azores, Madeira, Cape Verde Islands, Bermuda, Bahamas, Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean, Mexico, and Kona, Hawaii. Anglers traveled from many locations including Russia, Japan, Switzerland, Germany, United Kingdom, Spain, Austria, French Polynesia, Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, Canada, and the United States.
The first two reported landings were Yorkshireman in the Canary Islands and Brazilia 2 in the Azores. Unfortunately, both fish weighed just under the 500-pound minimum. As the time zones shifted to Bermuda, a record fleet of over 55 teams set out to try to win the World Cup for the third straight year. Although 19 marlin were released, none were large enough to bring into the boat. Similarly, none of the teams fishing between Bermuda and the Pacific were able to catch a marlin more than 500 pounds.
It all came down to Kona. A fleet of 45 charter and private boats set out in the final time zone to try to win the World Cup for the ninth time in 30 years. Early on, Bad Company with Capt. Steve Lassley boated a 112-inch blue marlin, but elected to continue to fish fearing it wouldn't meet the 500-pound minimum; at the end of the day, he stood correct.
Fishing remained slow, until late in the day and it looked like the 144 teams participating may not catch a single 500-pound fish. This hadn't happened in the World Cup since 1987.
With less than two hours left in the tournament, Tropical Sun boated a large marlin with Capt. Dennis Cintas and angler Kenichi Shionoya form Tokyo. It weighed 597 pounds and looked like a sure winner.
In the mean time, the charter boat Huntress, with Capt. Steve Epstein and angler Stephanie Choate from Miami Beach, Florida, were hooked up. They were able to boat their fish as the World Cup was drawing to a close. On the scales at Honokohau Harbor, it weighed 656 pounds, making them the overall winner as well as the Big Blue Challenge Division winner with total winnings at $561,600.
Miss Choate becomes the second female World Cup winner. She joins Sue Vermillion of Kona, who won the event in 1994 aboard the Kona charter boat Pacific Blue with a 654-pound marlin. Choate had also just won the Marlin Magic tournament the day before on July 3.
The World Cup is a qualifying event for the Offshore World Championship, so Choate's team will be invited to compete in the 2015 event. Capt. Epstein will also receive 500 points toward the International Division, Captain of the Year Award sponsored by In the Bite magazine.
The World Cup is a proud supporter of both the IGFA and The Billfish Foundation.
Team Huntress finds out on the scales.