Long hailed as the "Olympics" of offshore fishing, the International Game Fish Association's Offshore World Championship stands to grow even larger, thanks to a recently announced partnership with the Bonnier Marine Group.
The championship, which began in 2000, has grown into the sport's premiere offshore fishing series. To be invited to this prestigious event, teams must win one of the many qualifying tournaments located around the world.
"The Offshore World Championship has representatives from more countries than any other fishing tournament in the world," says IGFA President Rob Kramer. "We have 130 qualifying tournaments from 38 different countries this year."
Bonnier will take on the management side of the championship starting with the 2009 event. The IGFA will remain the championship's sole nonprofit benefactor. A fundraiser and auction for the IGFA will be held at the championship and Bonnier will make a charitable donation to the IGFA following each year's event. The championship will continue to use the first-class amenities and boats of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, as its host location.
Bonnier, publisher of recreational boating and fishing's most respected and well-known titles such as Marlin, Sport Fishing and Salt Water Sportsman, currently produces fishing tournaments in Bermuda, Mexico and the U.S. Bonnier will support the championship by providing advertising space in its magazines, creating a dedicated World Offshore Championship website and televising the championship on its Sport Fishing Magazine TV show aired on Versus.
"I am very excited about the opportunity to continue this incredible event and grow the number of qualifying events and championship participation to all-time highs," says Dan Jacobs, who will take on the role of tournament director and event producer. "I am also very focused on helping the IGFA grow as an organization by connecting them to our many readers and viewers worldwide."
The championship continues to grow each year, and the IGFA is looking forward to continuing that momentum through the new partnership with Bonnier. "We're excited about partnering the world's largest international billfish championship series with the marine industry's largest publishing company," Kramer says. "Bonnier knows the drill and what it takes to put on a quality tournament. And, with their staple of fishing and boating magazines, we're primed to grow the event to an even larger audience."
The IGFA says the new partnership will allow the organization to concentrate on its core programs, namely conservation and angler education.
"The tournament has served as a means for us to get out information on the IGFA rules, ethics and conservation philosophies," Kramer says. "All of the various forms of media that Bonnier brings to the table will do nothing but augment the program we already have."
IGFA staff will provide information about angling rules, conservation programs and check tackle on site at the championship. This way, anglers can learn the benefits of marine conservation and bring those messages back to their home waters. "This tournament, with its all-release format using non-offset circle hooks, is a conservation tool itself," Kramer says. "Many anglers coming to the event have not fished an all-release tournament. We show them how it can be done and they can export what they've learned back to their home countries."
There are currently 66 teams signed up for the 2008 event and that number continues to rise.
"We have ultimately created a win-win situation for the IGFA, the Bonnier Marine Group and the qualifying tournaments and participants," Jacobs says. "Personally it is a great honor to be the new steward of the IGFA Offshore World Championship, and I look forward to the challenge."
To find out more about registering a tournament as a qualifier, contact Lynda Wilson at Lynda.Wilson@Bonniercorp.com or call 407-571-4517. For sponsorship information contact Dan Jacobs at Dan.Jacobs@Bonniercorp.com or call 407-571-4680.