OCEAN CITY- The Ocean City Marlin Club will face off against old rival Cape May next week in the 39th 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.
The tournament used to alternate between Cape May and Ocean City, but has been a strictly Ocean City event the last several years because of the nightlife and other amenities the resort offers. 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.
The tournament gets started next Wednesday with a captains’ meeting and registration, with the first of three fishing days set for next Thursday. The competing boats will choose to fish two of the three fishing days, next 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 next Saturday with an awards banquet and the presentation of the Challenge Cup to the winning team.
Heading into last year’s event, Cape May had won the Challenge Cup in four straight years and retired a cup and started a new one, but Ocean City got the upper hand last year and wrested the Challenge Cup away from Jersey boys.
The top six boats from each club are averaged to determine the final score. The Ocean City Marlin Club boats released 126 whites and one blue, while the Cape May club released 58 whites and one blue marlin. When the scores were tabulated, the Ocean City Marlin Club won the tournament with an average number of points for their top six boats at 787.5. Cape May’s top six boats finished with an average of 500 points. Leading the Ocean City Marlin Club was the Makara with 975 points, the Billfisher with 900 points, the Sea Slammer with 825 points, the Bar South with 825 points, the Intents with 675 and the Greta’s Three J’s with 525.