“But I can’t compete with those guys”
There is a common misconception with both recreational and novice spearfishermen that makes them think “I can’t compete with those guys.” This is true for from many divers who regularly spearfish but don’t compete in tournaments, especially one as large and competitive as the St. Pete Open. The truth is there are many ways to win and in general more participants than not get’s more out of the tournament in terms of prizes and gear than they spend on the entry fee. So we have developed the following description explaining how the St. Pete Open tournament is structured and how YOU CAN WIN MANY WAYS at the St. Pete Open.
Shooter’s Fish and Prize Table
The scoring for the St. Pete Open places emphasis on big fish (single fish weight), however the scoring also utilizes aggregate scores (overall weight of all fish weighed in) for division winners and tie-breakers. Each shooter enters their largest fish for each of the seven categories; grouper, snapper, pelagic, hogfish, cobia/cuda, lobster, and sheepshead. The shooter’s score, or placement within the tournament is strictly based on the single fish/category that places him the best (highest) within the tournament. For example, a shooter has an off day and only lands three fish; a 15 lb cuda, 5 lb snapper, and 5 lb sheepshead which he shot at the boat ramp after returning from offshore. The shooter’s score, or placement within the tournament is determined by how each of those three fish place him with respect to all other fish weighed in for that year’s tournament. Say there are a total of 100 sheepshead weighed in and all of them are between 1.5 and 4.75 lbs. The 5 lb sheepshead would land that shooter in the first place division for the sheepshead category and he/she would have the 7th pick from the prize table.
If a shooter has an 80 lb grouper and an 85 lb pelagic and that grouper is the largest grouper weighed in for the tournament then that shooter would take 1st place grouper and would have first pick from the prize table. The 85 lb pelagic would be eliminated from the pelagic category scoring.
Many St. Pete Open shooters are lucky enough to land a grouper for the tournament, thus many are weighed in. However, during the hot summer months sheepshead can be a challenge to locate, especially offshore therefore those shooters who do weigh in a sheepshead sometimes score/place very well within the tournament. For example, in the 2010 St. Pete Open my 2 lb sheepshead placed me higher than a 17.35 lb grouper. Sorry Chris!!
The prize pick is a cyclical order (grouper, snapper, pelagic, hogfish, cobia/cuda, lobster, and sheepshead) and participant’s pick from the prize table is determined by the weight of the fish and which category the fish is in.
The first 7 picks from the prize table are the number 1 place holders for grouper, snapper, pelagic, hogfish, cobia/cuda, lobster, and sheepshead. The following round of prize picks goes to the winners of the 2nd largest fish/lobster for each of the seven categories. So if you had the second largest grouper for the tournament you will have the 8th pick off the prize table. Likewise, if you had the 2nd largest sheepshead for the tournament you would have the 14th pick off the prize table. After the top 3 place holders have their prize pick from the table then the Mystery Tickets are introduced between each cyclical round.
Prior to the Sunday Awards Ceremony results will be publicly posted in the side room for viewing. During the Sunday Awards Ceremony your name will be called for your pick off the prize table for the fish that placed you highest within the tournament.
The scoring system also takes in account of tie breakers. For example, if two people weigh in a snapper of the exact same weight (it happens!!) then the person who has the higher aggregate score would win the tie break. The aggregate score points are also used to determine the winners within the Freedive, Womans, and Juniors divisions.
Mystery Tickets & Prizes
Among other freebies and their tournament shooter shirt, every registered shooter receives 5 free Mystery Tickets with the Shooter Bag at the Friday night Captain’s Meeting; don’t lose these they are can you land you some very nice prizes!! The Mystery Tickets are drawn after 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners get their prizes so there are usually around 35 Mystery Ticket winners every year depending on the number of shooters that weigh fish. We also use the mystery tickets at the end of the award ceremony to distribute all the leftover prizes on the table. You can go to the prize table for all of your mystery tickets if they are called!!!
Category Tickets & Prizes
After you weigh in your fish continue towards the Nepa Hut (Tiki Bar) and under there you will also receive a “Category” Prize ticket for each of the seven categories that you weighed in a fish. Example; you weighed in a snapper, grouper, hogfish, and a cuda therefore you will receive a Category Prize ticket for each of those “category” fish, a total of four Category Prize tickets. Weigh in a fish/lobster for each of the seven and you get seven Category Prize tickets. At the end of the awards ceremony we will pick one ticket for each Category Prize. Each Category Prize is valued at no less than $600!!! You can win more than one category prize if your tickets are called; we’ve seen it happen more than once!!
Grand Category Prize
After all the Category Prizes are handed out then ALL tournament category tickets are combined and a single ticket is pulled for the Grand Category prize, valued at no less than $800 goes to one lucky shooter!!
Lionfish are invading our Gulf waters and SPUC fully supports their removal/harvest!! Following the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners SPUC will recognize the shooter who weighs in the largest lionfish and that person will then have his/her opportunity to pick a prize from the table.
Last Place Prize
We’ve all been there……gear malfunction, clogged sinuses, etc.; there are a multitude of events that can cause a shooter to have an off-day of spearfishing. Therefore, we typically have a very special prize for the person who happens to come in very last place of the tournament.
Kick Off Party and Miscellaneous Gear Raffles
Prior the St. Pete Open we hold a Kick Off party to get everyone fired up for the tournament. During this event we hold registration, sell tournament shirts (often we sell out at the tournament itself!!), sell miscellaneous St. Pete Open gear, and provide free beer and door prizes.
We also have an annual raffle (custom speargun, brand new BC, etc.) where tickets can be purchased at the Kick Off Party, Captain’s Meeting, Weigh-In, and Awards Ceremony. Monies raised from these annual raffles benefit local charity foundations (Apraxia Tampa Bay, Autism, etc.). A great opportunity to win a great prize at the St. Pete Open while also supporting local families in need of assistance.
Be a Part of History at the St. Pete Open
As you can see there are MANY ways a shooter can win at the St. Pete Open! You don’t have to be a seasoned “carbo killer” to do well and go home with some nice prices from the St. Pete Open. But remember, being at and participating within the Open isn’t about the best prize; it’s about the experience, camaraderie, and being a part of spearfishing history.
See ya at the Kick Off Party and at the Open!!!