This was my first time entering the Huggo's Wahine Fishing Tournament. Our family has participated in the past, and have sponsored the event, which raises money for Family Support Services Hawaii - a non-profit organization providing prevention and early intervention services for children who face possible abuse or neglect. Last year, after having a Sundot Marine table set up at the Registration/Costume Contest, I knew I wanted to be a part of this epic tournament.
Sundot Merchandise Table, Huggo's 2017
One of the event organizers, Lola Ching has become part of our Ohana and a friend of mine, so I was even more excited to be a part of "her" tournament this year. She helped explain how the tournament runs and encouraged me to just, "enter a team and figure it out later". And that's exactly what we did.
Amy Fitzgerald organized a boat (the Pomaikai) for us with Captain Robert Ventura and Tyson Fukuyama and we put together a great group of girls. Unfortunately one of our crew, Danielle Zirk, couldn't make it, but luckily Melissa Van der Merwe could join us at the last minute! Christa Russell and myself, Tina Henline rounded up our team. I had no idea what to expect and definitely did not allocate enough time for our costumes. The entries this year were insane!
Last minute dragons + Kaleesi
It was nice of Lola (event organiser and participant in the Inaugural Huggo's Wahine Tournament 23 years ago!) to offer us a space to set up our Sundot Merchandise again this year, at the Registration and Briefing. It was a beautiful, warm Summer Kona evening in front of Huggo's On the Rocks, on Ali'i Drive, set up under the Keawe Trees. Lucky for us, we were there early and got to see all of the teams arrive in costume prime.
The food put on by Huggo's was delicious and the Game of Thrones decorations were pretty spot on. We had a blast meeting new friends, making connections with people we had only known virtually on Instagram (so epic how social media can connect people!) and staying up past 10pm (doesn't happen that often these days)!
Making new friends
The day of the tournament seems to have gone in a blur. We woke up at 5am to make fresh musubi's and fruit kebabs. Then headed down to the harbor. The boys were already getting the boat ready. Arguably the cutest boat in the harbor. We were stoked to be surrounded by a tribe of other Force Marine boats. These boats are one of our faves. Growing up in Hilo, and surfing with the Patterson Ohana keeps these boats at the top of our list.
Force Marine Crews
Team Sundot, ready to launch
Shakas in Honokohau Harbor
We headed out of the harbor towards Kailua Bay to a beautiful, calm Kona sunrise. Everyone was stoked to be on the water. We met up with some friends from the Mele'iwa and shared a morning mimosa, literally on the water. We began to see the other Charter Boats arriving, many of them still dressed in their epic Game of Thrones gear.
Team Mele'Iwa, Kailua Bay
We decided (last minute) to join in on the water fight. Being a smaller boat the only advantage we had were our outboard motors. We had no water guns or super soakers - just two plastic buckets! We still managed to put up a good fight with the Charter Boats and we had a blast!
Note to self for next year: gear up with water fight supplies.
Before we knew it, it was time to countdown and get ready to fly out of the harbor and start fishing. That was the first time I had seen the fleet of boats rush out of the bay, and what a sight to see it was! To be involved in the start of a fishing tournament is pretty exciting, for sure!
We headed South, with high hopes and tight lines. Tyson set us up on Koya Lures, a local company, based in Holualoa on the Big Island. The lures are all handmade by Eric Koyanagi, who has been making lures for over 15 years. We talked story, shared snacks and got to know each other better while we waited for that bite...
Our New Men's Sun Shirts being put to the test
It wasn't long before boats were already hooking up and reeling in fish. And from that first catch it was non-stop action all day. A big difference from last year, where only 3 fish were caught between 75 boats!
The 3:00pm Tournament Control call was probably one of the highlights of my day. The captain let me talk on the radio and report for our team. From what I remember, it went down a little like this.
"Team 25, Pomaikai, Cheeehuu.
Slight Pause. (I was pretty nervous).
Still all Zeros here but we're flying our Cocktail Flag.
We're in Kilo."
It was pretty exhilarating to talk on the radio and I think we got a little laugh out of Tournament Control - and hopefully some other teams as well.
Amy Fitzgerald looking for that Marlin
Snacks on board the Pomaikai
Christa + Amy getting their beauty rest
Team Sundot Wahine, Huggo's 2018
After that final call in, we knew we had less than an hour left to catch a fish. We were trolling back towards Kailua Bay, still in high hopes that our Marlin was coming for us.
Tyson waiting for that late lucky strike
Unfortunately we didn't get any hookups. We didn't tag any Marlins. And we didn't boat any Ahi. We did have an amazing and unforgettable day together on the water. Not long after the call was made to Stop Fishing, we got a nibble as we were reeling in the lines. It was cool to see the bite marks on the lure.
Ahi teeth marks from the one that got away
Even though we didn't get any fish in this tournamanet, lots of the other boats hooked up. Seeing those boats coming into the harbor flying our Sundot Marine Flags will always bring a smile to our face.
Congratulations to the winning teams and all those involved in making this tournament such a success and a joy to be a part of.
We can't wait til next year!