The venerable West Palm Beach Fishing Club (WPBFC) will again host the ‘World’s Oldest Sailfish Tournament’ on January 6th and 7th, 2022. In its 85th year, the Silver Sailfish Derby is rich in history with a lot of prestige on the line for participants. The tournament fleet is limited to 50 boats and already sold out headed into the new year.
Started in 1935, this patriarch of billfish tournaments played an important role by attracting people from across the country to the Palm Beaches as a way to stimulate tourism and business at a time when the region needed it most, the years following the Great Depression. Its historical significance to the area and longstanding support of billfish conservation have been the Derby’s hallmark. Perhaps the most notable conservation contribution of the Silver Sailfish Derby is the development of the red release pennant. Today, the little red pennant is recognized around the world as a way to signify a sailfish release. The WPBFC began flying pennants in 1938 and was the first to promote the use of releases flags.
Many of the 2022 participants are local boats; others are seasonal or from surrounding areas of Florida. This offshore tradition continues to draw some of the finest captains, anglers and crews to the Palm Beaches at the height of the sailfishing season. Everything from large sportfish to smaller center console boats will be represented on the water, all rigged to catch and release Atlantic sailfish. The 4-line tournament has teams vying for some of sailfishing’s most coveted awards. The Derby’s top angler award is the Mrs. Henry R. Rea trophy. This magnificent silver sailfish sculpture dates back to the event’s origin in 1935 and is sponsored by Elizabeth Richebourg Rea of Connecticut. The Rea Trophy remains one of the crown jewels in all of angling.
Many awards are sponsored by families who have been associated with the event for decades. Part of what makes the Derby so special are the traditions and the people behind them. The Top Lady Angler trophy is sponsored by the Hampp Family of New Jersey in memory of Rose Hampp, who won the honor in the 1957 Derby along with many other awards throughout her accomplished angling career. The Louis S. Boski award for Outstanding Angling Achievement honors the late Lou Boski, an active WPBFC member who set the Atlantic sailfish single day catch record of 83 releases in 1980. Other prizes include awards for the Top Small Boat, Junior Angler, Captain, Tag Team, Daily Angler & Daily Boat awards, and Overall Boat & Angler awards.
Those who are not fishing the event can follow tournament boat standings on the Derby’s live scoreboard. The Derby scoreboard & photos can be found on the WPBFC website, Instagram & Facebook @westpalmbeachfishingclub.