Tournament spreads Goodwill

Water Ways
Honolulu Star Bulletin 0614/03
By Ray Pendleton

Hawaii Yacht Club's annual Goodwill Fishing Tournament got plenty of attention from the media last Sunday, and for all the right reasons.

After all, what could be more compelling than recording some 65 to 70 enthusiastic volunteers helping a similar number of equally enthusiastic, albeit diversely handicapped, anglers to enjoy a day of fishing?

And because those nice folks at HYC have been putting this fishing tournament together for 14 years, they really make it look much easier than it is.

If you missed it on T.V., try to picture the day starting about 7 a.m. with van-loads of Goodwill Industries of Hawaii "clients" arriving at the club.

Once they are registered, they are assigned to one of a dozen or more boats and then try to wait patiently for the tournament to begin.

Goodwill's clients are people of all ages who are challenged by personal barriers to employment such as developmental, physical, emotional or mental disabilities.

Once they have been referred to Goodwill, most are given occupational training at its 30,000-square-foot facility in Mapunapuna, where they can learn skills in computer operations, food services, industrial-custodial operations and retail sales.

Its clients are also able to gain valuable work experience in transportation, processing, warehousing and sewing operations within Goodwill's distinctive donated goods and retail store facilities.

But work was the furthest thing from their minds last Sunday, as the clients were briefed on boating safety and the tournament rules (have fun and try to keep your catch alive) before they boarded their boats.

Every angler was provided a rod and reel, a life jacket and more than enough bait to produce a hookup, so once they were floating above Waikiki's offshore reefs, catching fish was their only concern.

Hours later, when the "stop fishing" order came, it appeared many anglers were torn between wanting to continue fishing and wanting to see how their catches measured up to everyone else's.

The HYC volunteer weighmasters were more than up for the challenge, as one after another, eager anglers presented them with small, slippery, flip-flopping fish to not only weigh, but to measure and identify.

Somehow all the finny creatures were balanced on a postage scale, held up to a ruler, categorized by species, and then returned to the ocean with very few any worse for the experience.

Once the weighing process was over, and the judges began the difficult process of determining the winners in various categories, the anglers and the volunteers were treated to a delicious barbecue lunch.

Eventually, all of the anglers received prizes for their participation, but a few catches were singled out and awards were given for the most colorful fish, the heaviest fish, the longest fish, the shortest fish and, of course, the most fish.

To add a bit of frosting to the award ceremony's cake, a representative from the Ho`ole`a Jackpot Fishing Tournament (the annual event hosted by the Waikiki and Hawaii yacht clubs) presented Goodwill's president and CEO Laura Robertson with a check for $1,000 in appreciation for the work Goodwill has done in our community.

Still, like any good cake, it was the layers under the frosting -- in this case Goodwill's clients and the HYC volunteers -- that makes this annual tournament one of the best in Hawaii's boating community.

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