I had sidestepped through throngs of spectators to attend the White Marlin Open, in Ocean City, Maryland, labeled the “World’s Largest and Richest Billfish Tournament.” As I stood on the pier breathing pungent bay air, I was hoping to spot the qualifying White Marlin, Blue Marlin, Tuna, Dolphin, Wahoo, or Shark that could win big bucks.
The boats churned in the harbor after a day of fishing, and I watched for flags flying from the outrigger that indicated the crew had boarded a fish. Boats that had caught fish docked and handed their catch over to the White Marlin staff that measured it and attached a rope below the tail fin and used a pulley to hoist the fish up in the air to weigh it. The spokesman announced the length and weight, and if it was a contender.
By the end of this year’s tournament, the White Marlin Open had paid out over $4.7 million with over $3.3 million won by the three boats that hooked the qualifying White Marlins. The tournament drew visitors that supported the local businesses, and one of the bars ran an unusual contest that capitalized on the event.
Sunset Grille hosted the Teasers Cup. Participants, often White Marlin Open winners, competed in running up the highest bar tab, and they invited other customers to join in and drink on their tab. They bought champagne to drink and spray. Partiers shook champagne bottles, popped corks, and showered anyone close by.
During the week of the White Marlin Open, the boat, Goin’ In Deep, ran up a $20,550.05 bar tab and some say that they added a $6,200 tip. They drank champagne, that retailed for thousands, and liquor, beer, and wine. This crew had won the Teasers Cup five years in a row. Ironically, they were not among the 2017 White Marlin Open winners, but they ensured that the owners of Sunset Grille were.