OCEAN CITY- The Ocean City Marlin Club is looking for a little revenge this weekend in the 31st Annual Challenge Cup against its friendly rivals from Cape May, N.J., who rode a strong white marlin bite on the tournament’s last day last year to wrest the title away from the locals after a two-year mini-run.
The Challenge Cup, which pits teams of boats from the Ocean City Marlin Club against teams from the Cape May Marlin and Tuna Club, officially began in 1979 as a formal competition between the friendly rival fishing clubs, which meet in the canyons off the coast of resort every year at this time to battle for the coveted trophy. The competition began 31 years ago with an informal banter on the offshore airwaves as both clubs often cross paths in the same fishing hotspots off the coast.
In 1979, Ocean City’s Charlie Kratz and Cape May’s Scott Smith somewhat formalized the competition by making up a set of rules, and the tournament eventually evolved to what it is today. The tournament used to alternate between the two sites each year, but several years ago, the Cape May club decided to come to Ocean City each year, largely because it prefers Ocean City’s nightlife and other amenities to that of the sleepy New Jersey town.
Last year, Cape May spoiled Ocean City’s attempt at three wins in a row during one of the more memorable Challenge Cups in recent memory. Ocean City had a substantial lead after Day One, but Cape May rallied with several boats recording double-digit white marlin releases on the tournament’s last day. If the history books in the tournament are accurate, Cape May now leads the series with 13 wins compared to 12 for Ocean City.