Honolulu Star Bulletin 06/21/03
By Ray Pendleton
Have you always wanted to fish in the grandaddy of all fishing tournaments in our state?
Well, although the Hawaiian International Billfish Association's 44th Hawaiian International Billfish Tournament (HIBT) and the HIBT Pro-Am in Kailua-Kona have been taking registrations for some time, it's organizers are still looking for a few good anglers.
"Registration will be open for both tournaments until July 31," said tournament director Sue Vermillion.
And contrary to some of the dock-talk you may have heard in the past, local anglers are very welcome at the HIBT.
"The contests are open to any team of two or more anglers representing a club, city, state or country, Vermillion noted. "And local teams are encouraged to participate and join an expected field of some 50 teams from around the world."
The Pro-Am Tournament will take place August 11-15 and the HIBT will follow it immediately on August 16-23.
As the HIBT is one of Kona's longest running fishing tournaments, its founder Peter Fithian is fully aware of what makes it successful.
"Our team has worked very hard to keep the tradition alive and to improve on the foundation that was established 43 years ago," Fithian said.
And apparently Vermillion's abilities as the tournament's director have contributed to the team's efforts.
"This is Sue's fourth year as tournament director and she and our team of volunteers are doing a great job," says Fithian. "We are looking forward to another successful tournament this year."
Clearly, Vermillion finds the job to her liking.
"I'm having a lot of fun working with Peter and all of our great volunteers," says Vermillion.
"It's my goal to preserve and strengthen the traditions of the HIBT while introducing new and exciting ideas to make the tournament even more enjoyable for participants," she added.
One of the changes veteran anglers will see this year is a return to a five-day fishing format -- Monday through Friday. Another will be the addition of an extra hour of fishing each day, with the action starting at 7 a.m. instead of the traditional 8 a.m.. The stop fishing order will continue to come at 4 p.m.
One thing that will never change, Fithian said, is the highly regarded West Hawaii fishing grounds that cover more than 400 square miles off shore.
The HIBT is sanctioned as a ROLEX/IGFA Offshore Championship qualifying event. It is a non-cash tournament where top anglers from around the world compete for trophies only.
As Fithian emphasizes, "The tournament is all about camaraderie and life-long friendships. Although fishing remains in the forefront, it is the fellowship and brotherhood that unites the world's best anglers in Kailua-Kona every August."
The Pro-Am Tournament is the traditional "warm-up" event to the HIBT, and as such its dates are always placed immediately prior to the HIBT. But, unlike the HIBT, the Pro-Am is an optional cash prize tournament and some past jackpots have exceeded $40,000.
"Having the tournaments take place back to back makes it much easier for the many teams who wish to compete in both tournaments," explains Vermillion.
For registration information, fees, charter information, or to become an HIBT volunteer, contact Sue Vermillion at (808) 329-6155, e-mail: hibt@konabill- fish.com or visit the HIBT Web site at http://www.konabillfish.com.
HoloHolo Hawai`i Ocean Sports News