While the camaraderie and spirit of the Seafarers Waterfront Classic only grows larger each year, the actual fishing tournament is historically “feast or famine.” Thankfully, the seventh annual event – which took place on May 16 at the Seafarers- affiliated Paul Hall Center (PHC) in Piney Point, Maryland – was very much a bountiful day on the water, with 134 fish kept by the 125 participants. (Hundreds more fish were caught.)
The outing, as in previous years, brought together event sponsors, maritime industry partners, SIU officials and members, PHC personnel and members of the American Military Veterans Foundation (AMMILVETS). Just after sunrise, 18 vessels left the docks, each fisherman hoping to land the biggest rockfish of the tournament. In the end, Nicholas Forsey (from Comprehensive Health Services) was named the winner of this year’s competition, landing a rockfish which weighed in at 11.7 pounds.
“This year’s event checked all the boxes: great weather, awesome catch, and the privilege of spending the day with 12 of our heroes,” said SIU Vice President Contracts George Tricker, founder and chairman of the Seafarers Waterfront Classic. “Special thanks to our steward department, who blew people away from the moment they showed up until the day they left.” The day’s catch did include 14 catfish, which were larger but ultimately disqualified from bringing home the top prize. The award ceremony and dinner featured an art auction, with paintings from Nick Grassia that were graciously gifted to the PHC.
AMMILVETS President David Souders, who won a few awards himself this year, expressed his gratitude to the event organizers, and explained how valuable support programs like the fishing tournament are to the veterans: “Since our founding, we’ve seen how important these programs and events are to our members. These programs are really needed. We’ve watched some of these [individuals] change their lives, back from a place where they were kind of closed off and not really wanting to do anything. Some had kind of given up on themselves, and were at that stage in life, and they are here today; they’ve come back around thanks to programs like this. And I really want to thank you, from the bottom of my heart. We all do.”
After the awards ceremony, guests were treated to a delicious seafood feast prepared by SIU steward department members and staff at the PHC, showcasing their talents and the freshness of the day’s catch (along with tasty side dishes). Diners described it as an extravaganza, and noted the many different, scrumptious ways the fish were prepared.
“This was a great year for the Seafarers Waterfront Classic,” said SIU Assistant Vice President Kris Hopkins, who helps to plan and orchestrate the annual event every year. “We have to thank the SIU leadership and all of the organizers that help make this very important event become a reality. Not enough can be said in relation to headquarters, the Paul Hall Center leadership and crew, and the many participants that get involved to help support the American Military Veterans and their members. It’s an honor for me to be involved in this extremely worthy cause and perform a small part in supporting our veterans.”
“The weather was fantastic, and the fish were bountiful,” said Acting PHC Vice President Tom Orzechowski. “but the camaraderie was the best of all. It’s all for a great cause, and we were happy to host the event for its seventh year.”
Photos from the 2019 Seafarers Waterfront Classic can be found here