by Bob Wonders
World Sailfish Championship 2012.
'Sweet Release' (nearest camera) and last year's victor, 'Sandman' heading back to their berths. - world sail fish champs
I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, Key West, at the very bottom of the Florida Keys, is one of my favourite places on this wonderful planet.
There’s no doubt in my mind, either, that keen anglers would firmly endorse that feeling.
Organisers of the World Sailfish Championship certainly agree, for the 2012 event is about to mark its 10th anniversary with Key West as its headquarters.
And this is what they're after, a prime sail breaks water south of the keys. - world sail fish champs
The event, sponsored by the United States’ popular Bass Pro Shops, has become a world-renowned tournament, attracting anglers from around the world.
This coming weekend the tournament, rated as the world’s richest with more than $1 million 'up for grabs' and as 'the Superbowl of fishing tournaments' kicks off in Key West’s famed Mallory Square with a free concert for the Keys.
Other attractions sure to maintain peak interest for all will include a UDS Coast Guard Search and Rescue demonstration, a flyover by military aircraft and a colour guard for the singing of the National Anthem.
Key West Rotary will be on hand selling beer and beverages throughout the event with all proceeds going to the Key West High School Scholarship Fund.
Throughout its 10-years in the keys, the World Sailfish Championships has helped raise more than $2 million for charities across the USA.
Action stations! These anglers make sure everything is ready for the hoiped-for sailfish off Key West. - world sail fish champs
After the opening party, of course, all eyes will be on the anglers as they prepare to take on the sailfish, with Chris King, chairman and founder of the tournament, tipping more than 400 top take an active part.
'We are excited to celebrate our 10th anniversary in Key West and we have a wide range of anglers, from recreational to seasoned professionals, coming oin from around the world to enjoy Key West’s legendary hospitality,' he said.
'Specifically, we also want o thank and congratulate two of our sponsors, Bacardi Rum and Arturo Fuente Cigars, as they celebrate 150-years and 100-years respectively,' he added.
The World Sailfish Championship is a component of the World Fishing Tour, which also hosts the Sailfish Cup, Sailfish Open and the Sailfish Pro Series, a professional sail fishing circuit televised nationally across the US.
Experts believe the tour this year as proven to be one of the most exciting yet staged, with dramatic changes to the lead in almost every event.
‘Team Sea Hunter’ leads the standings through the first two tournaments with 141 points; Team Qualifier’ holds second, place, just 11 points off the lead.
‘De-Bait-Able’ is in third, 12 points adrift.
The top six boats at the end of the tournament will receive an invitation to the post season with the top point scorer receiving a bye to the finals.
Remaining Pro Series teams will be vying for the lone wildcard spot inot the post season, set to begin on April 29.
‘Blue Time’, with Captain Bill Wieteha at the helm, is sitting in seventh spot heading into the tournament.
He said despite being back in seventh, he won’t be changing his strategy.
'We’re going in with the same goal we take into every tournament and that’s to emerge the winner,' he declared.
'If we do what we are capable of we should, hopefully, be in the4 post season', he added.
‘Blue Time’ will not have things all its own way.
‘Reely Tight’, ‘Rock Star’, ‘High Stakes’, ‘Blue Hour/Kluch’ and ‘Get Lit’ are all within 14 points of ‘Blue Time’ heading into Key West.
Captain Nick Zeher, of ‘De-Bait-Able’ rates fishing the waters off Key West as 'unique'.
'It often levels the playing field for all the boats, simply because most of us don’t fish Key West on a regular basis,' he explained.
One aspect of the World Sailfish Tournament would turn organisers of many other similar events green with envy.
The event boasts an incredible array of sponsors actively supporting the event; they include the Bass Pro Shops, Florida Keys and Key West, Outback Steakhouses, Mako Boats, Bacardi Rum, Conch Harbor Marina, The Home Depot, Davis Yachts, Steel Horse Saloon and the Shipyard Brewery.
The crew of 'Sandman', last year's winner, is ready to celebrate big time. - world sail fish champs
World Sailfish Championships website