OCEAN CITY- The Ocean City Marlin Club is hoping to pull even with its friendly rivals from Cape May next weekend when the two clubs vie for the Challenge Cup for the 33rd time.
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 two clubs, which meet in the canyons off the coast every September to battle for the coveted trophy. Last year, the Ocean City Marlin Club wrested the trophy away from Cape May for its third win in four years.
With the win last year, the Ocean City Marlin Club inched closer to pulling even in the series. If the history books are correct, Cape May now leads the series with 14 wins, while Ocean City has won the Challenge Cup 13 times. There were a few years over the decades when the tournament was canceled because of storms or rough seas.
The competition began 33 years ago with an informal banter on the offshore airwaves as both clubs often crossed 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 into what it is today.
The tournament used to alternate between the two sites each year, but several years back, Cape May decided to come to Ocean City each year, largely because of the nightlife and other amenities. The tournament officially gets underway next Friday with the first of two fishing days.
Last year, Ocean City got the best of Cape May, releasing four more white marlin than Cape May did during the tournament, which was shortened to one day because of rough and windy conditions off shore. Ocean City’s top six boats released 34 white marlin compared to 30 for the top six boats from Cape May.
The “Legasea” was the top boat for Ocean City and the entire competition with eight white marlin releases. The “D.A. Sea,” the “Reel Joy,” and the “Miss Annie” each released six white marlin for Ocean City, while the “Par Five” released five and the “Spike’s Boat” released four.