The annual Cayman Islands International Fishing Tournament is celebrating their ten-year anniversary during the much-anticipated sport fishing event, which takes place from Thursday, 3 May to Sunday, 6 May.
With over US$100,000 in cash to be won, a Rolex watch and a trip to the IGFA/Offshore International Fishing Tournament in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, this year’s event marks the biggest and best prize list for participating captains and anglers locally and overseas.
The 2007 CIIFT introduces two new aspects to the tournament. The first element, new to this year’s tournament involves two categories of boats – large boats over 26-feet in length, and small boats 26-feet and under. The entry fee of CI$400 per boat includes up to four anglers.
The second change from last year’s tournament is the location of the weigh-in station. In previous year’s the weigh-in took place at the Cayman Islands Yacht Club, but due to the a number of deficiencies noted by the Department of Environment, the location for this year’s weigh-in will be hosted at Grand Harbour.
Brian Wight of Better Properties, and Property Manager of the Cayman Islands Yacht Club said, ‘Given when we received this notice (from the DoE), and the time given to deal with these issues, it is uncertain we will be able to comply in the time frame given.’
Although the traditional location for the weigh-in station has been changed to Grand Harbour, the tournament committee members are pleased that this new location provides quick boat access to the North Sound, ample parking for participants, and facilities available for the whole family to enjoy.
Minister for Tourism, Environment, Investment and Commerce, Hon Charles Clifford, commented on the significance of the ten-year anniversary, saying, ‘Events such as this tournament provide a livelihood for tourism operators and exciting entertainment for locals, while adding diversity to our tourism industry. Yet fishing is much more than a sport or a tourist attraction in the Cayman Islands – we have a culture and a history deeply tied to the sea.
‘I congratulate the Cayman Islands Angling Club for its commitment in putting on this, and other high-quality game fishing activities each year. This tournament, over its ten years, has evolved into a truly world class event.’
Chairman of the CIIFT since 2003, Mr Clive Smith, said, ‘I would like to thank all committee members, sponsor’s and others who assisted in putting this very challenging tournament together.’
Mr Smith continued to say, ‘Past tournament Chairmen who have made contributions to sport fishing in the Cayman Islands are Horace DuQuesnay, from 1997-1999; Charlie Murray in 2000; Captain Dave Scott in 2001, Bill Horan in 2002, and the founder of the Cayman Islands Angling Club, Mr Bill Rewalt.
‘I would like to express how honoured I am to be the Chairman of this year’s tenth Annual International Fishing Tournament, following in the great footsteps of the men who led these tournaments before me.’
After Hurricane Ivan in 2004, the tournament was almost postponed in 2005. Heather Bodden, committee member of the CIIFT said, ‘Due to losing all our records in our tournament office we considered canceling, but so many of our local anglers asked for a tournament as they needed some kind of stress relief activity after the passing of Hurricane Ivan; thus, the tournament went on.’
Ms Bodden added that, ‘We recognise how important this event is in enhancing community spirit and recognizing local captains and anglers.’
Chairman Clive Smith and a few of his committee members look forward to making their way to Cayman Brac for the Sister Islands’ boat registration on Monday, 30 April. The registration will take place at the Captain’s Table from 7:00 – 8:00 pm, followed by the Grand Cayman boat registration at Sunset House on Tuesday, 1 May from 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm. The Grand Cayman boat registration will also be the tournament’s kick-off party, featuring musical entertainment by Wild Knights.
On Thursday, 3 May, the official Start gets underway at 8:00 am with the fabulous Parade of Boats, from the Wharf Restaurant to Sunset House. All boats will be colourfully decorated, and celebrating Cayman’s diverse cultural background by flying the flags of each participants native country, including Great Britain, Canada, the USA, Australia, Honduras, Jamaica, and more!
Shortly after the Parade of Boats, at 8:30 am, is the CICO Bimini Start, led by the ‘Happy Hooker’ in Grand Cayman and ‘Black Label’ in Cayman Brac. All boats will line up behind the lead boat, which will fire a flare-gun, signaling the explosive start to the fishing tournament. Once the impressive start is given to all participating boats, the race begins full-throttle, to catch the heaviest billfish, wahoo, yellowfin tuna, and dolphin.
For fans of the fishing tournament, the Parade of Boats and the CICO Bimini Start is an exciting and entertaining introduction to four full days of sport fishing. Residents and visitors to Grand Cayman are encouraged to watch the spectacular start at Sunset House, and along the harbour side in George Town.
Each morning, with the exception of the CICO Bimini Start, the tournament hours will be from 7:00 am – 4:30 pm, and can be heard on VHF Channel 28 and VHF Channel 10 until 6:00 pm each evening.
Other prize categories for heaviest fish caught include an overseas anglers award of US$1,000 and a Cayman Airways airline ticket; a female angler award of US$1,000 plus a weekend at the Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman; Junior Angler awards; a US$3000 gift certificate from Scott’s Marine to the largest fish caught on a boat powered by Mercury engines; US$2000 from Burger King to the largest fish caught in Grand Cayman waters (within the 12 mile range) and did not clear customs; a Sister Islands cash award; a Rookie Award; the Ornon Whittaker Memorial Sportsmanship Award; the Captain Mitchum Ebanks Memorial Award; a Ronald Martin Memorial Award; a Rolex Watch courtesy of Kirk Freeport, and an invitation to the IGFA/Offshore International Fishing Tournament in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.
Cash prizes are awarded to large boats over 26-feet and small boats 26-feet and under, including second and third place jackpots. Participants will be vying for the grand prize of US$20,000 for the heaviest billfish caught, and US$5000 each for heaviest dolphin, wahoo and yellowfin tuna fish caught by large and small boats.
Tournament Chairman Clive reminds everyone that CIAC membership fees are due in order to participate in the CIIFT. The fee remains the same – adults CI$100 and Jr. Angler CI$25.00.
For more information, contact tournament Chairman, Clive Smith at [email protected], 916-5423 or Kenny Ryan at 925-3844.