OCEAN CITY- The Cape May Marlin and Tuna Club rode a big second day including three boats with double-digit white marlin releases to top the Ocean City Marlin Club during the 31st Annual Challenge Cup last weekend.
The Challenge Cup, which pits teams of boats from the Ocean City Marlin Club against teams from the Cape May Marlin and Tuna Club, officially began in 1979 as a formal competition between the friendly rival fishing clubs, which meet in the canyons off the coast of resort every year at this time to battle for the coveted trophy. The competition began 31 years ago with an informal banter on the offshore airwaves as both clubs often cross paths in the same fishing hotspots off the coast.
This year, Cape May had 13 boats entered in the tournament while Ocean City had 11 entered. The two teams finished in a dead heat on Day One last Saturday with the top six from each releasing 37 white marlin. For Ocean City, the “Size Matters” led the way with nine white marlin releases on Saturday, followed by the “Phat Mann” (7), the “Billfisher” (6), “Spike’s Boat” (5), “Cyntinory” (5), and “DA Sea” (5).
For Cape May on Day One, the “Viking 68” led the way with 12 white marlin releases, followed by “Badger” (7), “Covert Mission” (6), “Lizanne” (5), “Liquidity” (4), and “Dreamer” (3). After Day One, the two teams were tied with 2,775 release points, all on white marlin releases. The two teams combined for 104 white marlin releases on the first day.
On Saturday, however, Cape May pulled away from Ocean City to take the Challenge Cup for the second straight year. Three Cape May boats had double-digit white marlin releases on the second day including the “Covert Mission” (13), “Liquidity” (11), and “Badger” (10). All in all, the top six Cape May teams released 52 white marlins for 3,900 total team points on the second day.
Meanwhile, the top six boats on the Ocean City team released 29 white marlins and one blue marlin on Day Two for a combined 2,325 points. The “Topless” led the way with eight white releases, followed by the “Phat Mann” (6), “DA Sea” (5), “Par Five” (5), “Reel Joy” (two whites and one blue marlin) and the “Gennivieve” (3 white marlin.
In the end, it was the Cape May team retaining the Challenge Cup with 6,675 total team points, while Ocean City finished with 4,575. Cape May’s “Viking 68” was the top boat in the tournament with 21 white marlin releases in two days for 1,575 points. All in all, 207 billfish were caught and released during the tournament, which was exactly the same number as last year.