Mar 18, 2011, 12:03 ET from Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort

DESTIN, FL, March 18 /PRNewswire/ - Ranked as one of the Top 10 "big money" tournaments in the world, the Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic (ECBC) is the fastest growing billfishing tournament on the Gulf Coast of Florida.  The 9th Annual ECBC kicks off June 21 at Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort in Destin, the #1 resort on Florida's Emerald Coast.

"Ultimately our goal is to register more than 100 boats and award a purse in excess of $2 million," says ECBC Tournament Director Shawna Meisner. "We predict 2011 will be our largest tournament to date, anglers are anxious to get back out there and get fishing."

The last ECBC showcased 350 anglers aboard 67 production and custom sportfishing yachts. More than 37 billfish were released among the fleet, with 87 yellowfin tuna, wahoo and dolphin brought to the scales.

The highlight of the last ECBC was a new tournament record. Angler Chip Temple, fishing aboard Jasper Time, a 60-foot Hatteras, landed a 124-inch, 714.7-pound blue marlin to earn his team $325,204 in prize money. It was Temple's first blue marlin. The 2009 edition also marked the fourth year in a row that more than $1 million dollars was awarded to contestants, making it the top draw on the challenging Gulf of Mexico billfish circuit.

Now in its ninth year, the ECBC has become a key stop for the World Billfish Series and the International Game Fish Association Offshore Championship.

The new presenting sponsor, Mojo Sportswear Company, will debut a new fishing line at this year's tournament. Coke, Galati Yacht Sales, Viking Yachts, MTU, Florida Detroit Diesel, Northwest Florida Regional Airport and Vision Airlines are a few other sponsors.  Besides paying out hefty purses to the winning teams, the Classic is committed to the local community.  Charitable contributions are made to the Boys & Girls Club of the Emerald Coast, Harvest House and The Billfish Foundation, a non-profit marine conservation organization dedicated to protecting global billfish populations. 

"This is a major, celebrated event on the Gulf Coast," said Meisner.  "Whether you're a fishing expert or a family interested in doing and learning new things, the ECBC is a great event.  There is entertainment to supplement all the excitement at the scales." Meisner adds.

The 2011 Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic runs June 21-26 at the Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort. For registration forms, dockage or more information, visit www.fishecbc.com.

Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort offers the most complete resort experience in North America and was voted the #1 Resort by readers of Emerald Coast Magazine.  Sandestin is a 2,400-acre destination for all seasons and for all ages, located on Northwest Florida's Emerald Coast, an area recognized as one of the top 2010 destinations in the world by Frommer's. The resort invites guests to enter a world with a 98-slip Marina plus 30 charming neighborhoods featuring 1,500 condominiums, villas, town homes and the best in Destin hotel accommodations.   A member of Beaches of South Walton, Sandestin features more than seven miles of sugar-white sand beaches and pristine bay front, four championship golf courses, 15 world-class tennis courts, 19 swimming pools, a fitness center and spa, 65,000 square feet of meeting space and The Village of Baytowne Wharf, a pedestrian village with shopping, dining, nightlife and events.  

For more information on the resort and overnight accommodations, call 800-470-7389 or visit www.sandestin.com.

SOURCE Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort