Winners everywhere at spectacular Sea Angling Classic

While champions were crowned at the inaugural Sea Angling Classic on England’s south coast in mid-June, it was the industry itself and the sport of fishing which were the real winners.

Pantaenius-sponsored Team Smartfish lifted the stunning specially designed trophy in the Recreational Boat category, having boated an impressive 1,270cm of bream, tope, smooth hound, rays and bass.

But it was a close call, as the team of Will Parkinson, David Loonie, Aaron Barrett and Graham Paisley were crowned champions after beating second-placed team Tequila by just 15cm overall.

Meanwhile, Harvest Moon – with Steve Batchelor and Colin Searles on board – registered an overall total of 1,601cm over the two days to take the Charter Boat category prize.

Major brands including Penn, Okuma, 13 Fishing, Rapala, Mermaid Gin, Seakeeper, RBS Marine, Eagle Claw and Reuben Heaton plus partners such as Lowrance, Extreme Boats, Pantaenius and Mercury Marine all contributed to a prize table worth more than £200,000.

But the real winners were perhaps the many other initiatives that surrounded the unique event, which had kicked off earlier in the week with an inspirational opening ceremony and flag parade through the streets of Portsmouth to Gunwharf Quays and a spectacular boat parade in the harbour by many of the competitors.

Each team entered into event had to undertake a beach clean-up or litter pick before the competition while youngsters were encouraged to try fishing for the first time and take part in crabbing competitions, while conservation and scientific projects in and around the Solent were also a key part of the concept.

Andrew Race, chair of the UK’s Angling Trades Association, said: “This has been so much more than a competition – it has a focus on sustainability, the marine environment and of course the great work that the event sponsors do in these areas.

“The ATA, its members and the Sea Angling Classic share the same ethos in that regard, we are all working towards encouraging more anglers, improving the image of the sport and protecting the planet on which we live.

“This has been a fantastic event encompassing so much and the ATA – not to mention my brands of Reuben Heaton and Eagle Claw – has thoroughly enjoyed being a part of it.”

Mark Peck from Okuma added: “This has been a great initiative which Angling Spirit has introduced – not just the competition but everything around it, like the litter-picking and environmental focus.

“It supports what we are trying to achieve as well – we have gone really big on sustainability this year and, as a brand, we are trying to go carbon-neutral.

“We wanted to connect with the sea angling community and showcase many of our products including our Makaira range and Cavalla reels and it us such a great event to be part of.”

While Kyle Waterhouse, European E-ecommerce manage for Penn Fishing, noted: “It’s the biggest sea angling event the country has ever seen and certainly the largest prize table. Everybody is talking about it and as the leading saltwater brand we had to be here to show the anglers what we have, including our Slammer IV, our most waterproof and lightest weight Slammer reel.”

Sea Angling Classic founder Ross Honey said: “What an absolutely incredible few days we have had in Portsmouth. The weather gods shone on us and our teams didn’t disappoint, catching a staggering amount of fish over the two-day competition.

“What was really important was the fact that the event involved children and educational activities, scientific projects and research, conservation and environmental clean-ups and community initiatives – this is what makes the Sea Angling Classic a unique concept.

“Running an event like this involves so many people. Not just the anglers and skippers and their families but the fantastic trade sponsors and partners, the organising team, the local authority and local businesses and so many more. They deserve a huge thank you for their efforts.

“It has been a huge celebration of angling, of teamwork, of partnerships and of sustainability and conversation, while always looking ahead to ensure a brighter future for our sport and for our environment.”