Capt’n Eddy Haneman, one of the first charter fishermen in the Wrightsville Beach area, will be remembered as fishermen set sail Friday, July 25, during the 15th annual Eddy Haneman Sailfish Tournament. Bridgetender Marina is hosting the event that runs through July 27.
Tournament directors Tripp Brice and Kit Taylor formed the tournament in 2000 along with Jimmy Vass to promote sailfishing closer to shore. They wanted to encourage camaraderie through fishing and keep Eddy Haneman’s name alive.
“He was a very kind and humble man,” Brice said. “He wouldn’t like the tournament being named after him because he wouldn’t think he was worthy of it.”
Haneman started charter fishing in the Wilmington area in the 1940s, Brice said. Although it was his business to take people out fishing, he loved teaching others how to become better fishermen on their private boats, which was taking money out of his pocket, Brice said.
During the tournament that bears his name, the boat with the most sailfish caught and released claims first prize. Fishing takes place between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Brice said, and all sailfish caught must be released. Prizes will be awarded for the first sailfish caught on both days of fishing, the last sailfish caught and for the 15th sailfish caught, to commemorate the tournament’s 15th year. A secondary category will also exist for heaviest mahi mahi caught. Children aged 15 and younger will compete for the youth angler prize.
Anyone who has a boat or joins a boat can enter, and registration costs $400 per boat. Registration begins Thursday, July 24, at the Bridgetender Marina, and all participants must go that day to pick up the cameras used during the tournament to take pictures of sailfish caught, Brice said.
The tournament averages around 50 boats with as many as 75, Brice said, depending on how the weather looks and how good the bite has been.
Sunday, July 27, will conclude the tournament with an awards ceremony and cookout starting around 1 p.m.
During the awards ceremony, more times than not, winners give their earnings to a family that is in need, Brice said. Normally, it is for a sick child in the community.
“I love seeing everybody getting together and the camaraderie of fishing,” Brice said. “But the primary focus of the tournament has become helping those in need in the community and keeping Eddy’s name alive.”