Poor Girls Open set to cast lines and raise funds

Coastal Point • File Photo: Poor Girls Open team from last year’s competition included Terri Shapter, Kathy Jo Robbins, Julie Kypreos, Rae Ann Kane, Tracy Cieslukowski and Ellen Currie. The team released two white marlin and caught a bunch of mahi mahi. Coastal Point • File Photo: Poor Girls Open team from last year’s competition included Terri Shapter, Kathy Jo Robbins, Julie Kypreos, Rae Ann Kane, Tracy Cieslukowski and Ellen Currie. The team released two white marlin and caught a bunch of mahi mahi. Fresh on the heels of this week’s White Marlin Open, female anglers will show off their fishing abilities this coming week, as hundreds are expected to participate in the 24th annual Capt. Steve Harman’s Poor Girls Open, Aug. 17-19, also based in Ocean City, Md.

Organizers said women enjoy fishing in the tournament because it benefits a worthy cause — breast cancer research. Proceeds will be donated to the American Cancer Society and earmarked for breast cancer research and program development as part of the “Pink Ribbon Classic at the Beach Series” — an assortment of local activities designed to raise breast cancer awareness while garnering money for the organization.

“I think the word keeps spreading about [the Open]. They want to get involved because they know it’s for a cause,” tournament Co-Director Earl Conley said, adding that he has received numerous phone calls from women interested in the event. “Everyone is affected by cancer and touched by it in some way. It’s for a good cause — that’s what it’s all about. I think that’s the big draw.”

Many women, including cancer survivors, make it a tradition to fish in the tournament annually. Although it is a competition, there is camaraderie among the lady anglers.

“It’s a good time and rallies all the ladies together,” Conley said.

The cost to enter the tournament is $450 per boat, for up to three anglers. Other anglers may be added at $50 each, with a six-woman crew maximum per boat.

Cash prizes will be awarded to the top three teams with the most billfish release points. White marlin and sailfish releases are worth 100 points each, while blue marlin and swordfish releases earn anglers 110 points. The anglers who boat the three heaviest tuna, dolphin and wahoo caught during the tournament will also receive cash prizes. There are added entry levels/calcuttas for billfish releases, tuna, dolphin and wahoo, and girls 16 or younger may compete in the junior angler division.

Registration for the 2017 tournament will begin at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 16, at Bahia Marina, 22nd Street on the bay, in Ocean City. A captains’ meeting will follow.

Anglers may fish one of three days: Thursday, Aug. 17, Friday, Aug. 18, or Saturday, Aug. 19. Weigh-ins will take place daily from 4 to 7:30 p.m. at the marina.

Pink Ribbon merchandise will be for sale near the weigh-in scale in the Bahia Marina/Fish Tales parking lot, and several vendors will also have booths set up, featuring art, clothing and jewelry. There will also be a 50/50 raffle. Donations will be accepted as well.

An awards luncheon is scheduled for Sunday, Aug. 20, at a new location this year — Harrison’s Harbor Watch at the inlet in Ocean City, from noon to 2 p.m.

The competition has grown since its inception. Eight boats participated in the first tournament, and 2016 was a record-breaking year all around. A record 746 lady anglers fished on 160 boats, and $189,920 was awarded to tournament winners. Open organizers also presented a check for $100,000 to the American Cancer Society.

“Lady anglers get really excited about the tournament. We couldn’t have ordered better weather, and some pretty good fish were caught,” Conley said after the 2016 event. “It was just fantastic all around.”

The total donated by the Harman family through the tournament and other events over the past nine years is close to $900,000. Conley said the goal is to hit the $1 million mark this year.

In 2004, the tournament was renamed to honor the founder of the event, the late Capt. Steve Harman. He and his wife, Pam, started the Poor Girls Open in 1994 to provide women with an opportunity to compete for prizes and money in a ladies-only tournament, and to raise money for local charities. Harman died in February 2004, so organizers thought it was appropriate the tournament be renamed in his memory.

“We had great weather last year,” Conley said. “Hopefully, Steve Harman will smile down upon us again and we will have another great turnout.

“Knock on wood — we’ve been very fortunate in the past. The weather breaks and fishing improves,” he continued. “If we can come close to last year, I think everyone will be happy.”

The Open is the first event of the Pink Ribbon Classic at the Beach Series. Other events include a card game and party; tennis, mah jongg and golf tournaments; survivor celebration; and the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer 5K walk and run.

Most of the events take place in October, which is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

The Pink Ribbon Classic Series was started in 1996 by a group of volunteers. Since its inception, the series has raised about $3 million for breast cancer research, awareness, programs and services.

Some of the local programs and services available in the area include free wigs for patients; Road to Recovery, which connects local drivers with patients to transport them to and from treatment; and the Look Good Feel Better program available at Atlantic General Hospital in Berlin, Md., and Peninsula Regional Medical Center in Salisbury, Md., which teaches patients how to cope with the cosmetic side effects of chemotherapy and radiation treatment.

There is also the Hope Lodge, which provides lodging during treatment; Cancer Survivors Network, available at www.cancer.org, a 24-hour-a-day cancer information center; and 1-800-227-2345 for patients to access ACS services.

“The No. 1 way to eliminate cancer is to work toward its eradication. The American Cancer Society not only has millions invested in research to do so, but also services the local community with local programs,” said Jamie Barrett, community manager, Making Strides Against Breast Cancer, South Atlantic Division of the American Cancer Society Inc., following the 2016 Open. “We are grateful for the generous donation from the Harman family to continue diversifying how the American Cancer Society can combat cancer, and help the community.”

This year, 5,250 women in Maryland and 840 in Delaware are expected to be diagnosed with breast cancer. Across the country, that number rises to 252,710, and an estimated 40,610 will die from the disease, according to the ACS.

Breast cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in women in the United States. It is the second leading cause of cancer death in women, after lung cancer.

For more information about the Poor Girls Open, call Bahia Marina at (410) 289-7438. To learn more about the American Cancer Society, visit www.cancer.org or call 1-800-227-2345.