Complete silence fills the tent as a weathered padlock is held up to the microphone in front of a packed house at Farm Neck Golf Club on Martha's Vineyard. The crowd isn't the Club's usual golf and tennis crowd, but instead a rather salty alternative: participants, families, and supporters of the 72nd Annual Martha's Vineyard Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby fill the tent lined with fishing gear and prize bags. The tense air is thick like the fog that lifted just in time for the ceremonies this morning. Using the bronze key provided by one of the four people eagerly standing on the stage, long-time Derby President, Ed Jerome, attempts to unlock....
It's hard to accurately depict the atmosphere before, during, and after the storied key ceremony of the MV Derby - where one lucky winner of the shore fishing category turns his or her key for the chance to win a brand new boat, engine, and trailer. This year, Cape Codder was fortunate to have the opportunity to provide said boat (along with Tohatsu who provided the impeccable 90HP four-stroke). This year's winner, John Stasiuk of Southern CT, was one of four shore all-tackle first prize winners (one for each species in the tournament: striper, bluefish, false albacore, and bonito) all of whom had an equal opportunity to win the grand prize boat package. John's striper of 29.61 lbs topped the leaderboard in that category from...get this...day one of the 35 day Derby. When asked about the stress of catching the top shore caught striper on day one of the derby John remarked, "I fully assumed my fish would be bested...so I never really worried too much. It wasn't until the last day that I realized I had held out...and the stress kicked in."
John fished the Derby alongside his son (seen nearly tackling his shocked father during the key ceremony). The Cape Codder 19 Derby Edition will be John's first boat...giving them an opportunity to fish in the boat category next year (which comes with a chance to win a car donated by the generous Clay Family). While the prizes for the MV Derby are nothing short of world-class as far as fishing tournaments go, its clear that the nearly 3,400 participant's tireless fishing in the Derby is motivated by a love for the camaraderie, history, and respect for the 72 year old fishing tournament. As Bob Dobias of Cape Codder stated following the famous key ceremony, "We didn't know much about the Derby before agreeing to sponsor earlier this summer, but it's safe to say it has greatly exceeded any expectations we had for it."
In addition to thanking the Derby Committee, all other sponsors, and participants Cape Codder would like to extend a special thanks to Tohatsu, Advance Coatings, SIMRAD, Cheeky, Narragansett Brewing, and YETI for partnering with us to provide the grand prize boat package. Grand sponsorship of the Derby was nothing short of amazing, giving a first-row glimpse into the iconic, New England tradition.
Cape Codder, fresh off an amazing weekend on MV, is back to building purpose-built custom fishing boats "designed for Derby winners". As for John Stasiuk...he's ready for spring to come so he can get on the water in his new Cape Codder 19 - and based on his son's reaction last weekend, he'll have an eager co-captain.