Excitement was in the air as the Hibberdene Ski Boat Couta Classic drew near. The weather forecast for the weekend was looking bleak but that did not stop 336 anglers fishing from 143 boats from registering for the competition. The guys would be battling it out for the New Ace Glider 530 which was sponsored by Boating International.
Spectators at the weigh-in watched in anticipation as Shaun Posthumus of Port Shepstone brought in his 28.65kg Couta. This beauty took top spot on the leader board on the first day.
Unpredictable weather and difficult launching conditions the next day did not deter some of the record number of anglers in the competition (359 in total) from trying to beat this fish. A scare came from team-mate Noel who caught a 27.5kg Couta which finally clinched second place overall. To Shaun's huge relief no-one could top his catch and to the delight of his supporters he was eventually declared the winner.
His winning Couta drew even more attention when it was auctioned on the Saturday evening and the R10 700 was earmarked for charity. Also on auction was an inflatable boat with a 5HP Mercury outboard which brought in R18 500 and the proceeds of a 4.5-litre Limited Edition Wellington bottle of brandy went to the life guards covering the competition.
Back to the action on the water, a promising Development Team (taking part for the first time) had the time of their lives. Co-sponsored by Hibberdene Ski Boat Club and Boating International - Beke (Illovo Sugar), Xolani (Hibiscus Coast Municipality) and Simphiwe (Sharks Board) were ably skippered by Wayne Harrison. While the team caught several fish none was big enough to weigh-in – but these first-timers didn't mind a bit and kept on smiling from ear to ear.
Families and friends enjoyed the activities on the beach from impromptu shore fishing competitions for the kids – to the evening's entertainment in the giant marquee which included catchy music, dance competitions, lucky draws and many "tall stories" - accompanied by loads of food and refreshments.
Boating International's Ace Glider skiboats made their mark as the Lowrance Demonstrator (a 750 open model) and a new enclosed version (belonging to competition chairman and organiser Lyle Fraser), were spotted easily negotiating the rough surf launch before flying out to sea.
According to Dean Levy, Boating International's involvement this year has firmly cemented the company's footprint in the skiboat market – and anglers can expect to see much more activity in this area in future.
He also expressed his delight at the meticulous organisation by Lyle and his committee and fully endorsed the controls implemented over protected waters. One competitor was caught fishing in the area and was disqualified from the competition for life.