Costa Rica Hosts the 2013 Offshore World Championship

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Marina Pez Vela in Quepos, Costa Rica is currently hosting the finale of the world’s biggest international offshore sportfishing series.

Costa Rica sportfishing

Hard-fighting sailfish in Costa Rica

Quepos put Costa Rica on the international sportfishing map.

Some 200 dedicated anglers hailing from around the globe have descended upon Costa Rica to participate in the 2013 Offshore World Championship in the hopes of being named the XIII sportfishing victor. With support from the Costa Rican Tourism Board (ICT), the much anticipated event is taking place from April 14th through the 19th at Marina Pez Vela, in the central Pacific port town of Quepos. Renowned among fisherman as the “Olympics of Sportfishing,” the tournament has lured 65 teams from over 30 different countries and marks the finale of the world’s biggest international offshore fishing series.

One of the country’s most popular beach vacation destinations, Quepos and neighboring Manuel Antonio have been inundated with fishing aficionados, all eager to see how the action unfolds and which team will take home the coveted title and prize catch. Some have even used the tournament as the focal point of their Costa Rica vacation, including Houston, Texas resident Seth Gunvalsen and his wife Corrine. Both are staying in a luxury vacation rental fronting Manuel Antonio beach and booked their sport fishing vacation through Escape Villas – a respected rental property operator. Sara Hopkins – spokesperson for the company – confirms at least eight bookings in their Manuel Antonio villas and home rentals by groups just like the Houston couple, who are using their downtime for local adventure tours such as parasailing, zip-line canopy tours, nature hikes through Manuel Antonio National Park, and of course, plenty of inshore and offshore fishing.

Organizing the Championship Tournament since 2009, the Bonnier Corporation Marine Group operates under the direction of Dan Jacobs and Lynda Wilson. When asked why they chose Marina Pez Vela in Quepos for this prestigious event, the organizers said “This central Pacific coast town of Costa Rica has been chosen from among the world’s top offerings for having all the necessary elements of incredible offshore fishing, calm waters, quality resorts, charter operators and a new world class marina destination … Quepos is one of the first locations to put Costa Rica on the international fishing map.” Over the last decade, the international competition has been hosted in Los Cabos, Mexico and Hawaii.

Deep sea sportfishing has become a huge tourist draw in Costa Rica and, according to a 2011 survey by the Costa Rican Tourism Board, nearly 75,000 visitors that year arrived for the sole purpose of casting a line in the Pacific and Atlantic waters. In fact, the country is home to over 100 world-record catches. With more than 800 miles of unspoiled coastline, the sportfishing in Costa Rica is phenomenal any time of year, but from late December through early May, landing five to fifteen sailfish a day is not unheard of – especially along the central Pacific coast.

Game fish included in the Offshore World Championship are blue, black and striped marlin, sailfish, yellow-fin and big eye tuna along with dorado and wahoo. Each team can have a maximum of six registered anglers, and tackle, equipment and fishing rules must abide by IGFA regulations. Non-angler participation ticket packages are sold for $300 per person, allowing guests entry to all entertainment and social functions. A gala awards dinner party at the marina will commence at 7:00 p.m. on April 19th, when various prizes and awards will be distributed to winning teams.

Although free time will be limited for participating anglers, some will be enjoying Manuel Antonio’s outdoor offerings and have plans for surfing, mangrove boat tours and horseback riding excursions when they’re not trying to land hard-fighting sailfish. Quepos is widely considered the country’s premier sportfishing destination and its recently upgraded Marina Pez Vela is home to several tournaments throughout the year like the Costa Rica Classic and the Quepos Billfish Cup.

Escape Villas vacation rental guest Seth Gunvalsen muses on his own fishing luck these past few days, commenting, “We got a 32-foot charter with another couple and boated a 120-pound marlin, two red snapper, a 27-pound tuna and a roosterfish. The crew was in top-form and our stay in Manuel Antonio has been fantastic. I know we’ll be back next year.”

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Indra Levy
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