From humble beginnings with three boats battling it out for a case of Crown Lager, the two-day Classic is now in its 10th year and is hotly contested among experienced anglers, with over $16,000 in hand-crafted trophies on offer across 10 competition categories.
Philanthropist and founder Peter Teakle has also just announced the richest prize pool ever for this year’s event from April 1-3, 2016.
In addition to taking home major honours, the four members of the 2016 Champion Team will also secure a two-day fishing adventure with legendary Riviera skipper Captain Bob Jones, worth some $7000.
“You have to be in this tournament to win it,” said Mr Teakle.
“Last year we had 18 boats entered, including 14 Rivieras and four trailer boats, and our competitors recorded the catch and release of 324 southern blue fin tuna.
“From the early interest this year, we are hoping for our biggest ever fleet in 2016 so we encourage everyone to register early to secure a spot.”
Entries close at 6pm on Friday, March 4. For more information, rules, guidelines and entry forms visit www.tunaclassic.com.
Mr Teakle said the trophies for 2016 will once again be ‘a real work of art’.
“In Australia, we fish tournaments not for cash prizes, but for a ‘piece of wood’,” he said.
“The Riviera Port Lincoln Tuna Classic trophies are not your normal pieces of wood – we now have gold for the champions and silver for the runners-up.
“And because of the tournament’s growth over the past five years, we now have 40 trophies at an average value of $400 each.”
R Marine South Australia’s dealer principal Paul Harrop said the Riviera-sponsored Tuna Classic was a terrific follow-up to the immensely popular Port Lincoln Easter Experience the previous week.
“We already have 39 yachts registered for the R Marine South Australia Easter Experience which starts in Port Lincoln from March 25-28,” said Mr Harrop, who heads up the 2015 Riviera Dealership of the Year.
“Many owners like to cruise in company across to Port Lincoln with other members of our South Australian family of Riviera owners in the lead-up to the Experience event, and then stay on for the Classic,” he said.
“It used to be that the girls flew home after enjoying the Easter Experience and the boys were then joined by their mates for the Tuna Classic … but that seems to be changing.
“Last year’s Classic had its first all-female team entered and gave the boys some pretty intense competition.
“In fact for the first-time ever, Champion Female Angler Susan Tarbotton – aboard the Riviera 56 Enclosed Flybridge, Tari – last year became the first woman ever to out-fish the men.”
Susan hauled in 19 of the feisty southern blue fin tuna before returning them to the water in good condition under the competition’s strict catch-and-release rules.
“This is always such an exciting event, especially when all the teams line up at the start and the fleet sprints to Memory Cove to begin fishing – the fun and camaraderie among anglers and boat owners is amazing,” said Susan after her success last year.
“I love being involved and to finally win and receive the trophy was such a great feeling.”
Capt Bob Jones – who has 32 Cairns marlin seasons under his belt – last year skippered the Riviera 56 Enclosed Flybridge The Battler, which won the Champion Boat honours.
“By all accounts there are plenty of tuna out there again this year, so here’s hoping it will be another good catch,” said Capt Jones.
Mr Teakle said the tournament was privileged to have outstanding partners, including 2015 Australian Marine Industry Exporter of the Year Riviera as the naming rights sponsor, with Shimano, Club Marine, Lexus of Adelaide and Yamaha Marine all supporting various categories. The Marina Hotel in Port Lincoln also provides ongoing support with accommodation and sponsoring the briefing night on Friday, April 1.
“All of these partners have been involved for several years now and we endeavour to work with them for many more to ensure the continued success and sustainability of our event,” he said.
- Please note that entries must be received by 6pm on 4 March 2016 to ensure participation. For more information, rules, guidelines and entry forms visit tunaclassic.com.