Ocean City Marlin Club Tops Cape May to Regain Challenge Cup
OCEAN CITY- The Ocean City Marlin Club won back the coveted Challenge Cup and regained bragging rights over old rival Cape May Marlin and Tuna Club last weekend in the 32nd edition of the annual event.
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 32 years ago with an informal banter on the offshore airwaves as both clubs often cross paths in the same fishing hotspots off the coast.
In 1979, Ocean City’s Charlie Kratz and Cape May’s Scott Smith somewhat formalized the competition by making up a set of rules, and the tournament eventually evolved to what it is today. The tournament used to alternate between the two sites each year, but several years ago, the Cape May club decided to come to Ocean City each year, largely because it prefers Ocean City’s nightlife and other amenities to that of the sleepy New Jersey town.
Cape May had won the tournament the last two years, but Ocean City bested their New Jersey rivals last week to regain the cup. Any time one team or the other wins the tournament three years in a row, that individual cup is retired and the loser purchases a new cup, a scenario that has played out several times during the three-plus decades of the tournament.
This year, Ocean City got the best of Cape May, narrowly winning the cup by catching and releasing four more white marlin than Cape May did during the tournament, which was shortened to one day because of rough and windy conditions off shore. While 13 boats competed for Ocean City compared to 23 for Cape May, the catch totals for the top six boats for either team are counted in the fin standings. Last Saturday, Ocean City’s top six boats released 34 white marlin compared to 30 for the top six boats from Cape May.
The “Legasea” was the top boat for Ocean City and the entire competition with eight white marlin releases. The “D.A. Sea,” the “Reel Joy,” and the “Miss Annie” each released six white marlin for Ocean City, while the “Par Five” released five and the “Spike’s Boat” released four.
For Cape May, the “Canyon Lady” and the “Viking 70” were the top boats with six white marlin releases each, while the “Reely Hours” and the “Super Crew” each released five. The “Lady Jayne” and the “Electric Lady” each released four white marlin for Cape May.
With the win last weekend, Ocean City closed the gap with Cape May. If the history books are accurate, Cape May now leads the series with 14 wins, while Ocean City has collected 13 wins. There were a few years when the tournament was cancelled because of storms or rough seas.