Marines participate in 9th annual fishing tournament
EAST CHINA SEA, At Sea -- As the dark blue waves violently rocked the white fishing boat back and forth, the Marines aboard waited anxiously. “Fish on line!” exclaimed Master Sgt. Mark D. McLaughlin, as the other fishermen quickly reeled in the adjacent lines to ensure they did not get tangled.
McLaughlin quickly grabbed the fishing rod, took his place in the weathered wooden chair, and began methodically battling the fish with each turn of the reel.
A group of five Marines with 3rd Maintenance Battalion participated in the 9th annual Sam’s Cup International Billfish Tournament June 8-9 off the coast of Okinawa.
“The tournament was established in 2005 by the Ryukyu Islands Sport Fishing Association,” said Chuck Church, the Sam’s Cup fleet commodore and event coordinator. “The Okinawa and international communities wanted to organize a low-cost fishing competition. The 2005 inaugural tournament featured seven local teams vying for bragging rights and a trophy. The event has grown to an international tournament comprising teams from all over the world with the 2013 tournament featuring more than 50 entrants.”
This year’s 36-hour tournament was the largest to date, according to Church.
The tournament started at 6 a.m., June 8, off the coast of Okinawa in the East China Sea and continued until 6 p.m., June 9.
“Just before the start of the tournament, all the boats met up at the Ginowan Marina at 6 a.m.,” said McLaughlin, a participant and engineer equipment chief with Engineer Maintenance Company, 3rd Maintenance Bn., Combat Logistics Regiment 35, 3rd Marine Logistics Group, III Marine Expeditionary Force. “All the boats got on line waiting so they could take off. As soon as the time came, it was pandemonium as all the boats scattered separate ways as fast as they could. It was an incredible sight.”
Each year the tournament officials award a grand prize to the teams with the heaviest fish and the heaviest total catch.
This year the YYY Club Ie Resort team was awarded for the heaviest fish after catching a black marlin that weighed 668 pounds and took over an hour to reel in, according to Robin Miller, the Okinawa USO area director. With that catch adding significantly to their total weight, the YYY team earned honors for the heaviest overall catch as well.
To some, the fishing tournament was just that, a tournament, and all they cared about was the competition. While others entered for the simple joy of fishing, added McLaughlin.
“It was an enjoyable experience,” said McLaughlin. “Even though my team didn’t catch anything big, it doesn’t bother us because we know it’s called fishing and not catching for a reason.”