Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia
Wednesday August 7, 2019
On Friday July 26, 2019, on the Gold Coast in Queensland, Australia, Andrew Death (pronounced Deeth) from New South Wales, Australia was crowned the 2019 Hobie® Fishing World Champion. Death was the seventh angler to claim the world title after Scott Baker (AUS) 2011, Marty Mood (USA) 2012, Richard Somerton (AUS) 2013, Steve Lessard (USA) 2014 and 2016, Xiaohong Ma (CHN) 2015 and Salah el Barbouchi (GER) 2018.
43 anglers had qualified for the 2019 tournament and travelled to Australia from 16 countries to compete in Hobie Fishing Worlds 8 presented by Daiwa. Most international anglers had not previously fished for the target species Yellowfin Bream. However, they were given two pre-fish days to acclimatise themselves to the arena and to the species. All had researched bream, the techniques, the lures and tackle that was required to bring home, the three fish they aimed for each day.
The championship was a catch, weigh and release tournament. Anglers brought their fish back in Hobie V2 Livewells for a live weigh-in at the event site. The fish were placed on scales, their weights recorded and then the fish were released to swim away.
Each angler competed in exactly the same type of kayak, a Hobie Pro Angler 14, which were provided brand new, and decked out by the Hobie Asia Pacific factory located a lures’ throw from the waters of Jervis Bay, in New South Wales, a 1000km south of the event location.
All kayaks were equipped with a MirageDrive® 180 (forward and reverse) pedal system, Lowrance Hook2 7inch Triple Shot sounders and a Power-Pole Micro anchor, as well as other accessories, including the Hobie V2 Livewell, which re-circulated fresh saltwater to keep the fish healthy.
The fishing arena basked in amazing weather throughout the world championship, with mid-winter temperature maximums ranging from 22° to 26° C. Light breezes persisted daily and there was no rain in sight. Never in eight championships has a Worlds seen such perfect conditions.
After registration and the mandatory briefing on Sunday afternoon, competitors and their guests partied on, cruising the canals around the affluent mansions that line one of the world’s largest man-made canal systems.
The next morning 43 excited anglers pedalled off from the Power-Pole Starting Line on Lowrance Pre-Fish Day One, the first chance for many international anglers to fish in Australian waters. Others had planned their trips to arrive early, and to adjust to the new species by fishing in alternative systems to the championship arena where a pre-fish ban was not imposed.
To the delight of competitors across the arena, not only were there plenty of bream about but, anglers from all continents were catching fish. Another surprise to competitors was how awesome the fish were to catch on light tackle. The first angler to pull a fish on board in the event was Joe Komyati (USA). As he held a nice 35cm Yellowfin Bream in his hands he commented,
“It’s my first bream ever. I watched some videos the Australian Hobie guys put up, and I used what they told me to use, and it definitely worked. There you go (holding out his fish).”
Power-Pole Pre-Fish Day Two saw a similar pattern with anglers getting a taste of alternative locations. The Sundale Bridge pylons were hit hard by up to 15 international anglers, but they did not have a lot of success because their timing was wrong, and the tide was not suited for that type of strategy. Nevertheless, many persisted in the area, a mistake a few would continue to make over the championship days.
The big story though was at the lineup of trawlers, which were closer to the event site. As their decks were washed down, prawns fell off into the surrounding water attracting plenty of good sized hungry bream. Like a flock of seagulls, more than a quarter of the competitors headed straight there from the start. Despite being hit hard the day before the location held up with some quick bites.
Nate Gloria (USA) was onto his first bream in just a few casts. That first fish was in his Hobie Livewell just on twenty minutes after the start, fifteen of which were spent travelling to the location.
Most of the people that hit the trawler fleet were sensible enough to leave the area after a half an hour, not wanting to sting the honey hole. But some persisted for too long. Fortunately, they caught no fish, so the damage to the bite during the championship days was minimal.
Well before daylight, on Wednesday July 24, the vibe around the event site was one of excitement and anticipation as anglers prepared for the start of World Championship Day One which was presented by Daiwa. The sun rose and reflected off the high-rise buildings around the Gold Coast, as the world’s best kayak anglers massed for the official start of the world championship.
As anglers respectfully stood in their Hobie PA14 kayaks the Australian National Anthem was played. A countdown began and off the fleet blasted, Worlds 8 was on! The action at the start was fast and furious with a lot of barging and contact around the turning buoys. The intensity was well up on the two pre-fish days and shouts echoed across the water as the field split evenly to the north and south.
Once again, the trawler fleet was the early target for ten to twelve anglers. Finn Sloth (DEN) was among that group. Like on both pre-fish days around twenty minutes from the start he became the first international angler to land a Yellowfin Bream (31cm) in the championship, while much closer to the start an Australian had already bagged two.
Many of the anglers from across the world, who had never previously targeted bream, did quite well, with just two days of pre-fish to learn to adapt to the new species and to the unfamiliar light tackle.
Seven anglers from outside of Australia managed to get a full bag of three bream, while all of the Australian team had full bags. Seven unfortunate anglers battled it out for the Lowrance Donut Award for catching no fish. A heavy concentration of Chinese and Brazilian anglers got amongst the donuts. Most of those anglers had caught bream but disappointingly they were under the competition legal length of 26cm. The dubious honour and first recipient of the award was Patrice Gotti from France. Gotti had caught plenty of fish, but they just didn’t measure up to size.
There were a number of large bream caught weighing over a kilo and it was just a matter of grams that separated them. In the final count down the largest fish landed weighed in at 1.06kg and was caught by Felix Frey from Sweden. Frey, a Pike specialist, was thrilled to receive the Power-Pole Big Bream trophy, which was presented to him at the Hobie Kayak Europe Dinner that evening after the haunting indigenous sounds of the didgeridoo had reverberated around the room.
At the close of the day one session, Jack Gammie (AUS) led the championship on 2.16kg, followed by Andrew Death (AUS) on 2.08kg and Edi Brader (AUT) on 1.99kg. Five Australians Tyson Hayes, Richard Somerton (2013 world champion), Simon Morley and Kris Hickson made up the next five places. While two USA anglers followed, Nate Gloria in 8th and Tyson Peterson in 9th, with Danish angler Finn Sloth (3rd in China in 2015) in 10th place.
Over all 37 anglers brought a total of 84 fish back to the scales on day one of the world championship. Their accumulated weight was 44.35kg at an average of 530g an impressive average for the species in any waterway.
On Thursday as the sun rose competitors once again took off in superb conditions for the second day of the world championship. With late threatening winds predicted to blow from the south, the majority of anglers headed in a southerly direction, only a small group of nine or ten pedalled to the north. Fortunately, the wind didn’t blow up as forecasted.
Like each day prior, a group of ten plus anglers headed for the trawlers where two fish were caught by Nate Gloria (USA) and Eric Seddiqi (USA), once again within 20 minutes of the start. The rest of the anglers had little luck, most leaving within 15 to 20 minutes.
The morning wasn’t far gone, and a large slice of competitors had fish. Anglers who had struggled the day before such a France’s Patrice Gotti had more luck on day two, while for four others there remained the frustration of no fish, including 2015 world champion Xiaohong Ma from China.
At the end of the day it was another impressive performance by the Australians. However, the Americans showed a great ability to adapt to the new species, making up a quarter of the top twenty. Nate Gloria flew the highest flag for the USA sitting in 6th place, equal with 2013 world champion Richard Somerton (AUS). Gloria bagged 1.78kg on day one and 1.77kg on day two giving him a two-day total weight of 3.55kg.
Edi Brader from Austria, who sat in third position at the close of day one, dropped back a place but remained the best placed European. Brader had a day two bag of 1.59kg giving him a total of 3.58kg. Finn Sloth (DEN) the next best European was in 11th place followed by Felix Frey (SWE) back in 19th. Lars Lundberg became the second Swede to catch the Power-Pole Big Bream, which weighed 910g.
The Chinese were having a difficult time adapting to the new species. Lai Wang, their highest placed competitor, was in 16th, while the remainder of the team sat among the bottom ten anglers. Rafael Renzetti led the Brazilians in 23rd with the rest of the team languishing close to the bottom. Tim Percy (CAN) received the Lowrance Donut Dough Award to rousing cheers and hugs of jubilation, at the Power-Pole dinner that evening. To the delight of all in the room, the idea of a police officer winning a donut award set off the USA team into raptures. It was a great moment.
Once again, the class acts were by the Australians with eight in the top ten. Jack Gammie increased his lead from the previous day with another 2.02kg, giving him a leading bag total of 4.18kg. Andrew Death maintained his second place with 1.86kg for 3.94kg overall, 249g behind Gammie. Simon Morley (AUS) moved up into third place knocking Austrian Edi Brader back a position. Morley added 1.97kg for a total of 3.79kg, 150g behind Death, and 399g short of Gammie.
90 fish were caught on the day weighing in at 44.02kg at an average of 489g slightly down on day one.
The field was tight at the top and anyone in the top ten could take out the championship if luck went their way. The final day of the Worlds was set to be intense, and full of excitement.
When the action started reports keep coming in that Death and Morley were going head to head on the same reef to the north of the event site. Their reels were screaming time after time, and each bagged out around the same time. Then on the turn of the tide they both then began to upgrade fish, after fish, after fish.
In the meantime, Edi Brader was one short of a bag and fishing well to the south, under the skyscrapers around Surfers Paradise, where he had been quietly bagging out over the two previous days of competition.
The leader on the first two days and the favourite to maintain his lead, Jack Gammie, also went south, much further than Brader, and was hard to find among the canals along the Nerang River. Then a report came through late in the day that Gammie only had an average size bag. Nobody had sighted Gloria from the USA or Somerton from Australia. The weigh-in was going to be insane!
At 2:30pm angler after angler walked up on stage to the scales and the lead changed continually. When Gloria got up, he hit the lead with a day three bag weighing 1.77kg and the USA contingent went bananas. Gloria remained on stage at the top of the table, with just three anglers to follow Morley, then Death and finally Gammie. Could this be a huge upset? The Americans watching online and at the event site were hoping so.
Gloria was on 1.77kg for the day and sitting on a total of 5.32kg. Simon Morley handed over his bag to the tournament director and it was placed on the scales, 1.97kg for a total of 5.75kg. Nate Gloria is 430g short (almost a whole fish). Morley takes the lead but what a brilliant performance by Gloria. Up steps Death with his bag, he needs 1.81kg to take out Morley. The scales roll over, settle and stop, 1.85kg just 40g more than Simon Morley. There’s a new leader. Morley steps off the stage and Death stays hoping his 5.79kg is enough. He nervously waits while a tense Jack Gammie is interviewed in front of the live audience and those watching the broadcast.
Gammie walks up the steps with a nervous smile and hands his bag to tournament director, Steve Fields. Fields plays with Death and Gammies emotions for a few seconds, building the intensity of the moment, before Death calls out humorously, “Just put it on!” The audience laughs.
Gammie only needs 1.62kg to win the world championship. Andrew Death (AUS) who had sat in second on both previous days, and now the current leader, waits in anticipation. Gammie’s bag goes on the scales …. BOOOOM!!! 1.43kg, it’s 150grams SHORT!
Andrew Death fist pumps the air, then turns away in disbelief of his unforeseen fortune, the new 2019 Hobie Fishing World Champion is shocked. A disappointed Jack Gammie drops to a commendable third after a brilliant performance. Simon Morley takes a well-deserved second. Australia has its third 1,2,3 from three world championships held in the country.
Richard Benson (AUS) caught the Power-Pole Big Bream for the day and Marco Pasquini (ITA) the Donut Dough Award, and Felix Frey won a Power-Pole Micro Anchor for the biggest fish of the championship.
An incredible 265 bream were brought to the scales during the three days of the championship. They weighed a total of 133.32kg, at an average weight of 500g, and every single one of them got to swim away to live another day.
Andrew Death (The Reaper)is the new Hobie fishing World Champion. What a performance. What a humble winner, a great champion, a true gentleman.
What a tournament! Just Amazing! Incredible! Awesome! Bring on HFW9, we can’t wait.