Huge catch is festival highlight

Hastings & St Leonards 112th International Boat Festival winner Bill Ellis with Steve Shoesmith

Hastings & St Leonards 112th International Boat Festival winner Bill Ellis with Steve Shoesmith

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The biggest conger eel caught locally for several years provided one of the highlights of the 112th Hastings & St Leonards International Boat Festival.

The competition was fished later than usual and the weather wasn’t very good with only Friday and Saturday fished from the boats, many of which came in early on the second of these days due to a freshening wind. The weather coupled with a big tide also made anchoring and drifting difficult to judge.

The third and final day was fished on the beach due to strong south-westerly winds approaching gale force.

Despite the tricky conditions, some good fish were boated including a number of very fine rays. The best specimen though was a magnificent conger eel of 77lb 4oz landed by Paul Murray which netted him several trophies and £500.

His boat partner, Bill Ellis, caught another of 65lb and for the second year running, won the South of England Trophy and £500 first prize after accumulating 372 points on Saturday. Anthony Wells did consistently well to clinch the ICSA Gold Cup awarded for the highest aggregate points.

The junior prizes were all taken by Charlie Wells, with mum Sue Wells being the top lady. Top veteran was Mick Cox who also had the best flatfish with a very fine plaice of 3lb 15oz. The team prize went to Murray, Ellis, Alan Kent and Graham Goodwin.

The prize-giving and buffet was held at the East Hastings SAA Club. The excellent prize table had 18 prizes awarded each day and said a great deal for the excellent fund-raising efforts of Barry Coleman.

The main sponsor once again was stalwart festival supporter Charlie Ball of C&G Commercial Ltd.

See this week’s Hastings Observer for a host more pictures.