July 8, 2003 – Financial restraints have curtailed other portions of the annual French Heritage Week celebration on St. Thomas, but the Northside Sportfishing Club's annual Bastille Day Kingfish Tournament — the territory's biggest in-shore fishing event — is up and ready to go at 5:30 a.m. Sunday.
Action central is the usual place, Hull Bay Hideaway, on the beach on St. Thomas's North Side.
"We're expecting more than 300 anglers this year," Monica Lester, tournament director, said. Because of sponsor generosity, she said, entry fees remain affordable — $35 for adults and $20 for "juniors," defined as youngsters ages 8-16.
It's lines in the water from 5:30 a.m. to noon. For the next two hours after that, while the weigh-master and judges work, anglers get to enjoy an open bar. Meanwhile, for the general public, there will be food, drinks and live music courtesy of St. John's Cool Session band throughout the afternoon. The awards ceremony is to get under way at 8 p.m. with music by Sea Breeze.
The largest kingfish will net its angler $2,000 in cash donated by N.E.M. (West Indies) Insurance, managed in the V.I. by Red Hook Agencies.
The second-largest kingfish prize is $750 in cash from FedEx.
The best captain will have a choice of three prizes from Offshore Marine — a 12-foot inflatable Caribe dinghy with a 15 hp Yamaha outboard motor, a four-stroke 50 hp Yamaha outboard or an 18-foot Eduardano boat.
Major sponsors Coors Light and Snapple, distributed locally by Bellows International, are providing product and cash sponsorship, continuing a tradition that goes back 12 years, with donations adding up to more than $75,000, according to a release.
Other prizes include a Celebrity Cruises seven-night Caribbean cruise for two, overnight getaways at more than a dozen St. Thomas and St. John hotels, and dinners at numerous local restaurants. Collecting them will be the anglers who reel in the largest barracuda, bonito, dolphin, jack, mackerel and tuna, and the winners for best boat and best female, male, junior female and junior male anglers. And junior anglers get a chance at a drawing for eight $50 cash awards and one $100 award, all sponsored by I Do Video & Photography.
Founded by the Northside Sportfishing Club in 1987, the annual tournament benefits Joseph Sibilly School, St. Thomas Rescue, the local American Red Cross chapter and scholarships for college-bound students of French descent. Last year, the club also made a contribution toward refurbishment of the Dorothea tot lot.
Tournament registration and the captains' meeting will be at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Hull Bay Hideaway. Entry forms are available at Bryans Electrical Contracting in Sub Base and Neptune Fishing Supplies in American Yacht Harbor. For more information, call 774-5206.
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