OCEAN CITY- The 39th Charles Kratz and Scott Smith Challenge Cup, pitting boats and teams of anglers from the Ocean City Marlin Club and Cape May Marlin and Tuna Club against each other, got underway this week with bragging rights for the next year on the line.
The Challenge Cup 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 got started on 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 from Thursday to 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.
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.