Captains meeting at Stone Brewery indicates pride, money are at stake in second annual WON/H&M Landing San Diego Offshore Jackpot
A dozen owner/operators and captains of the 12 sportfishers entered in the WON/H&M Landing San Diego Offshore Jackpot coming up July 1, were hosted by WON at Stone Brewery at Liberty Station by San Diego Bay, just north of the landings.
The season for tuna had already started, yellows have been biting for months, last year was a very good year. So everyone was in good spirits, on every level.
STONE BREWERY AT Liberty Station was a great spot near the landings for
WON to host the owners and operators of the 12 sportfishers competing in
the WON/H&M Landing San Diego Jackpot slated June 30-July 1.
First off, Connor Johnson of WON greeted everyone and thanked them all for coming. Then, free pairs of Costa sunglasses and visors were handed out to the captains, then came the hors d'oeuvres, followed by a steady flow of IPAs.
Then the trash talkin’ began. Well, only one of the captains was, but it was a start.
“You guys don’t have a chance, my boat is winning this thing,” said Frankie Brehna, owner/operator of the 65-foot Producer, who grabbed a pink Costa visor from the table and wore it upside down. “I’ll win it, even though you guys kicked me out of your code group.”
A few sipped their beers. No one said anything, and then one of the captains chirped, “Keep talkin’, Frankie. And by the way, that’s a real cute hat! You should wear that all the time. It covers your bald head.” Everyone laughed.
“This is fun,” said H&M Landing part owner and general manager Frank Ursitti. “Getting the guys together for this was a great idea — get some camaraderie among the boats and a feeling of competition.
“Hey, “I’m all about fun. If it wasn’t fun to fish and run a boat, why would anyone do it? You gotta have fun with this type of stuff.”
Joining Ursitti and Brehna at the lunch were Capt. Chuck Taft and his son Steve of the Legend, husband/wife team Dina Grivetto and Capt. Rick Scott of the Ocean Odyssey, Capt. Ryan McNichol and owner Richard Allen of the Invicta, Capt. Robbie Gray of the Constitution, Capt. Chris Randel of the Chief, Capt. Armando Marquez of the Producer, Lisa Phillips (representing her husband Capt. Brad Phillips) of the First String, Capt. Junior Garcia of the Old Glory, Capt. Dustin Tench of the Ranger 85, Capt. Mike Franchak of the Relentless, and Capt. Patrick Dorety of Sea Adventure II.
Tourney directors Connor Johnson and Ursitti have a goal — to establish the San Diego Offshore Jackpot as a season cornerstone of the San Diego fleet.
It’s centered at H&M Landing now, but Ursitti wants to expand it to include the other landings. Then, Ursitti said, the competition among the captains and crews will get heated.
“Last year we were not even completely full for our three boats,” said Johnson, an advertising rep for WON, who approached Ursitti with the idea last year.
Those three boats were the Ranger 85, Constitution, and Relentless. Ursitti liked what he saw in the fledgling event.
Said Connor, “This year we quadrupled in size, and of the 12 boats, seven are already sold out, so we are going to sell out every boat. That’s pretty amazing, I think.” Sold out are the Ranger 85, Constitution, Relentless, Daiwa Pacific, Chief, Invicta and First String.”
Two thirds of the Jackpot spots are filled. About 100 spots remain, and fishing is getting to a new level, with the tuna joining an already great bite on yellowtail. The five boats with spots are the Sea Adventure II, Ocean Odyssey, the Legend, Producer and Old Glory.
CAPTAINS FRANK BREHNA, right, of the Producer and Dustin Tench of the Ranger 85 are ready to have some fun at the Jackpot.
The tournament format is simple: anglers will pile onto the boat of their choosing Thursday, June 30 for a 9 p.m. departure. They will return no later than 7 p.m. on July 1, after fishing for the day. Each angler’s $275 ticket price for the overnight trip includes a jackpot buy-in, and the top three anglers will divide 100 percent of the jackpot money, with the top angler honored by having his or her name engraved on the perpetual trophy.
“If this event goes 100 percent full,” said Connor, “that prize purse will be over $6,600!”
The breakdown: The first place fish among all 300-plus anglers earns 50 percent of the total pot, followed by 35 percent for second biggest fish, and 15 percent for third biggest. Also up for grabs are six (of each) Okuma Metaloid reels on Cousins jigs sticks; three will be given away as early-bird raffle prizes, and the other combos will be raffled off at the weigh in. Each boat’s jackpot winner will win a pair of Costa sunglasses. More prizes are being added each week for the drawings after the boats return.
Like any of our charters, there will be awesome sponsor’s prizes. Tournament sponsors like Costa sunglasses, Okuma, Cousins Tackle, Trokar, Sufix, Yo-Zuri, Plano, Angler’s Choice Tackle, and many others will be giving away tons of gear at weigh-in raffles. Plus, each boat will have free Trokar hooks for every angler as well as supplies of Yo-Zuri fluorocarbon leader coils, and bulk spools of Sufix line to fill reels or add topshots.
“Not only are prizes being given for big fish but the perpetual trophy honors will be awarded to the top boat getting the winning fish, to be displayed in the hallowed halls of H&M Landing for all to see,” said Ursitti, who took over part ownership in the landing last year and assumed the tasks of general manager when longtime manager Phil Lobred retired. “This event is fast becoming the backbone of our summer season and a highlight of the San Diego offshore angling year.”
This is one of three annual WON charterboat tournaments on the coast. The upcoming Channel Islands Shootout is in its eighth year and the Rockfish Rumble just had its fourth annual running. They are both annual sellouts and keep expanding year after year. This event will surpass those in size in just two years.
This year’s jackpot will be covered by WON’s “dream team,” including myself riding aboard the Ocean Odyssey, veteran staffer Bob Semerau riding aboard the Constitution, Blake Warren will be riding aboard the Chief, and a team of reporters across many more of the competing boats, giving everyone a shot at sharing their success in the pages of WON.
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Pat McDonell is editor of WON and directs the Cabo Tuna Jackpot. Patm@wonews.com.
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Bookings are handled through the landing at (619) 222-1144 or book online at www.HMlanding.com. For event details, Connor can be reached at Connor@wonews.com or at (949) 366-0921.