By Christine Patton
Reef Cup Has a History
This year’s Reef Cup is complete, and it was a good one. Lots of fish were caught, the weather was challenging, and the participants enjoyed themselves onshore as well as at sea. The size of the field (59 boats) hasn’t changed in years. It’s always waitlisted and the limitation is more an issue of the size of the onshore activity — the social events run to 500 people — than the offshore. The number of fish caught, 163, was higher than last year, but records of 300+ were set years ago.
The event is 38 years old, and has seen plenty of changes along the way — it used to be in January, now it’s scheduled for March. It was four days, now it’s three. Technical innovations like kites have changed scoring systems. But for some participants it’s a family tradition, going back years, decades, even to pre-Club buyout days, and they man the boat with sons and daughters, cousins and in-laws. Out of the top five boats, I believe that four were family affairs. All for a trophy and some bragging rights.
Add to the mix the captains and crew, who make critical decisions about where to go, north or south, what depth to fish and exactly where and when. The match up of currents, winds and temperature that promise the baitfish to lure in the sails is a complex and intuitive calculation that decide a boat’s fate.
To be honest, there are a lot of winners. In the field of 59 boats and 299 anglers, there are top men, women, junior anglers and each day has its roster of first, second and third best boat or angler. Many of the participants I spoke to were proud to inform me of their being on the top boat of a certain day, or that they were with an angler who caught the most fish on one of the three days. Some reminded me that they won in prior years, even many years ago. But what struck me were the folks who have fished for 20 years (the Zifferers) or 25+ (Tom Davidson, Jr) or even all 38 years, not including the boycott year of 1993 (Ken Reda).
Now that’s dedication!