Editorial: Sponsor finally pulls line in

By Doug Laing

For endurance in sporting tourism in Hawke's Bay, first prize must go to the Hawke's Bay Sports Fishing Club and the iconic sponsor of its famed Coruba tournament which started yesterday.

This event, along with the sponsor's plentiful offerings, has been a major attraction in Napier since it was first held in 1978.

While making the Bay a must-see for sports fishermen, or game fishermen as they were called when the competition was first held, organisers had to ride out some pretty rough water at times as the event attracted national attention for seemingly parading the slaughter of shark.

The club answered the calls, abandoned the "Shark hunt" name by which it had become best known, but which was roundly attacked by conservationists at a time when lots of people liked attacking what other people did ... the 1981 Springbok Tour, for example.

This is not to say they weren't right. But while there must have been those who wondered if it was worth battling on, there were benefits in that the debate fostered a new degree of care for our ocean bounty, with many competitions around the world seeing the monster catches released as soon as they've been weighed, sometimes with tagging and monitoring devices to assist marine studies aimed at helping the fishery survive.

While not the case at the Napier competition, it has been attended by marine scientists and, therefore, been a part of similar focus.

The founders at the Hawke's Bay Game Fishing Club, as it was known in the earlier days, would never have foreseen that the competition would still be going in the 21st century.

Much less would they have foreseen that Coruba would still be on board, and the place the tournament has as an iconic event in Napier's big month of February, kicking-off what is a three-week special, with Art Deco Weekend next week, and the Mission Concert with Barry Gibb and Carole King a week later.

The association with Coruba stands out like a beacon among sports sponsorships throughout the country. We can think of very few which have been around the same length of time, although Colgate Palmolive's support of children's athletics through its North and South Island games is one.

Fortunately, the impact of the tournament means it is not completely wanting of a new major sponsor to keep it going as Coruba heads in another direction, as sponsors otherwise usually do within three or four years

They don't generally hang around for 35, but it is hoped that the fishers will land another big one to ensure the event keeps going.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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