The organisers of the world's biggest surfcasting competition have tweaked the way in which they will sell tickets for the 2023 tournament, as a matter of fairness for all who wish to compete.
Tickets for the 2022 NgāiTakoto 90 Mile Beach Snapper Bonanza went on sale on Tuesday, with first dibs going to those who competed this year. Any that remain on July 1 will be available to all. This will be the last time that past competitors will be able to keep their ticket number from previous years, however.
Tickets for 2023 would be numbered from 1001 to 2000, so no one would have to worry about their old number popping up for someone else's benefit.
"We've done this out of fairness to all, and to overcome what has become a bit of an administrative nightmare," John Stewart said.
"Imagine, you've been fishing the Bonanza for years, but this time you can't make it for whatever reason. Under the old system you might never get back in if all tickets are sold to the previous year's competitors.
"More and more anglers are buying tickets with the same number they've had before, but aren't turning up. They're not worried about the cost of the ticket, they just want to keep their numbers. We can't have a closed-off event where the same 1000 anglers have the right to enter again next year.
"Everyone who fishes the tournament this year will be welcome again in 2023, but they won't get a month's head start on new competitors as they have in the past, and as they are once again this year.
Issuing specific ticket numbers was also an administrative nightmare, he added. It had been manageable when only a few tickets were returned each year, but now there was just too much demand.
"In 2023, numbers will be issued randomly when tickets are bought online," he said.
The decision had not been taken lightly, and he was aware that some longtime competitors would be disappointed, but it was a change that had to be made.
"Please respect our decision as we continue to deliver the best and biggest surfcasting comp in the world," he added.
He also noted that some ticket numbers probably weren't as "lucky" as their owners believed them to be. He knew of one competitor who had had his number for more than two decades, without any remarkable success.
"He'll probably say that his number was just about to come up trumps," he said, "but unless that happens next year he will never know. And a change of number might be just what he needs to take a new 4WD home in 2023."