38th Annual Challenge Cup Underway

OCEAN CITY- The Ocean City Marlin Club will face off against old nemesis Cape May this weekend in the 38th Charles Kratz and Scott Smith Challenge Cup, pitting boats and teams of anglers from each club against each other with bragging rights and the handsome trophy on the line for the next year.

The Challenge Cup, which pits teams of boats from the Ocean City Marlin Club against teams of boats from the Cape May Marlin and Tuna Club, officially began in 1979 as a formal competition between the friendly rivals which share the same canyons off the coast. The two rival clubs meet each September to compete for the Challenge Cup and bragging rights for the next year.

If ever one team wins three Challenge Cup tournaments in a row, the trophy is retired and turned over to the winning club, while the losing club purchases a new trophy. The contest has been fairly close over the years with each team retiring trophies, but Cape May has had the upper hand in recent years.

Thursday was the first of three official fishing days. The competing boats will choose to fish two of the three fishing days, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The Challenge Cup is a billfish points tournament with points awarded for releases only, meaning there will be no weigh-ins for tuna or dolphin, for example. The tournament concludes on Saturday with an awards banquet and the presentation of the Challenge Cup to the winning team.

Last year, the Cape May club edged the Ocean City Marlin Club in a tight contest for its fourth straight win in the decades-old series. Cape May finished with 562 total points, including 22 white marlin released, five blue marlin and one sailfish. Ocean City finished with 437 total points including 20 white marlin and one blue marlin released. Cape May retired a Challenge Cup with its third win in a row in 2014 and won again last year to start a new run with a new cup.