Dutch Team Wins Penn Challenge

The event highlights excellent marlin fishing in Cape Verde

The Penn Force One team.Courtesy Toine van Ierland / Marlin Magazine

The Penn Challenge is an annual charity-driven tournament organized by The Fishing Dutchmen Foundation and held in Mindelo, Cape Verde. The 2017 edition drew 15 teams from Holland, Belgium, England and China. For each of the five fishing days in the tournament, the teams rotated each day among some of the most highly-regarded captains in the world, including Zak Conde, Marty Bates, Olaf Grimkowski, Randy Das, Bert Bouchard, Steve George and others. The Penn Challenge is also a qualifying event for the Offshore World Championship.

Highlighting the excellent blue marlin fishing Cape Verde is known for, by the end of the tournament 109 blue marlin were caught in the event. The largest was estimated at 900 pounds, with 35 more over the 500-pound mark. With the exception of two fish that died during the fight, all were released. The boated fish were prepared and donated to the tournament's charity, ICCA Mindelo, a shelter for mistreated and abused children.

A nice blue marlin comes to the boat.Courtesy Toine van Ierland

The Dutch team, Penn Force One, of Toine van Ierland and Wim Huijberts finished in first place with 11 blue marlin releases. In second place was another Dutch team, the Ray Marines: Patrick Lankhuizen, Mark Smulders, Harold van Asselt. The Chinese Ocean Sun team of Sun Linan, Xu Gongjian, Jiang Hua, Yue Liang finished in third. Klaas Hoogduin landed the largest game fish, a 43-pound wahoo, and Capt. Marty Bates was the event's top captain on La Onda Mila.

Here's a closer look at this year's Penn Challenge.

The Ray Marines team finished in second place.Courtesy Miriam Montero
Capt. Zak Conde heads to sea on Amelia during the first day of the Penn Challenge.Courtesy Toine van Ierland
Capt. Marty Bates on La Onda Mila was the tournament's top captain.Courtesy Miriam Montero
A blue takes to the air amid calm seas off Cape Verde.Courtesy Divan Coetzee
La Onda Mila, with Capt. Marty Bates at the helm, fights a blue marlin.Courtesy Toine van Ierland
With the exception of two that died during the fight, each of the tournament's blue marlin were released to fight again.Courtesy Toine van Ierland
Hebe and Mystic Blue troll the grounds off Sao Vicente for a bite.Courtesy Toine van Ierland
Olga Bansberg releases a blue marlin.Courtesy Toine van Ierland
A small blue marlin, almost ready for release.Courtesy Toine van Ierland
The Ocean Sun team from China finished in third place.Courtesy Miriam Montero
Olga Bansberg was the tournament's top lady angler.Courtesy Toine van Ierland
The participating anglers gather for a group photo during the awards presentation.Courtesy Miriam Montero