OCEAN CITY- The Ocean City Marlin Club successfully defended its Challenge Cup title last weekend, defeating the Cape May Marlin and Tuna Club to retain the cup for the second straight year.
According to tournament rules, the top six boats from each team are included in the final point tally. Fourteen Ocean City Marlin Club boats participated while 19 participated for Cape May.
Ocean City led the way with nine white marlin releases and two blue marlin releases for 975 points, while the Cape May team caught and released four white marlin and two blue marlin for 600 points. Ocean City’s top boat, the “Billfisher,” led the way with five white marlin releases.
The Challenge Cup 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 nearly 30 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.
The Ocean City Marlin Club won the tournament for the second year in a row last weekend, knotting the series at 12 wins each. Any time either team wins three years in a row, the cup is retired and the losing team has to purchase a new Challenge Cup. The cup has been retired five times over the years as each club has gone on mini-runs.
For example, Cape May won the first two tournaments in 1979 and 1980, and Ocean City won the next two in 1981 and 1982. Cape May won three straight from 1983 to 1986 and the cup was retired. Ocean City responded by winning the next three, from 1987 to 1989 and the cup was retired again. Cape May won three more in a row from 1990 to 1992, forcing another retirement.
The longest streak in the series ran from 1995 to 2002, when Ocean City won five times in a row. After the first three, the cup was retired and Ocean City won two more. Cape May retired a cup with a three-year streak from 2003 to 2005, and Ocean City has won the last two.
Because of offshore conditions, the Challenge Cup was basically reduced to a one-day tournament with Friday the only fishing day.