Oak Bluffs harbor committee recommends new tournament

Oak Bluffs harbor committee recommends new tournament

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The annual Monster Shark Tournament attracts a monster crowd. — File photo by Ralph Stewart

Following presentations from two competing big game fishing tournament organizers, the Oak Bluffs harbor management committee voted unanimously Thursday to forward an application from Damon Sacco of Bourne and Ted Rosbeck of Edgartown to stage the Oak Bluffs Challenge tournament the weekend of July 24.

Committee members took no action on an application from Matthew Kriedel of Edgartown and Newington, Connecticut, who applied to stage the tournament the weekend of July 17.

Both tournament organizers want to step into the void left by the untimely death of Steven James in a duck hunting accident last month. For the past 27 years, Mr. James organized the Oak Bluffs Monster Shark Tournament, defended it, and modified the contest over the years in the face of growing opposition from Islanders and others.

On Thursday, representatives of both tournaments spoke at length about their fishing experience, how their tournaments would differ from the Monster Shark tournament and the many ways in which the community would benefit.

John Breckenridge, chairman of the harbor management advisory committee, said he had asked each applicant to submit detailed information regarding their background, their experience as tournament organizers, and to list any financial partners. Mr. Breckenridge also asked the applicants to say if the tournament would be catch and release. In 2013, town meeting voters unhappy with the Monster Shark Tournament approved a non-binding resolution that called for a catch and release tournament.

Oak Bluffs Challenge

Ted Rosbeck of Edgartown spoke on his behalf of Damon Sacco, who could not attend due to a last minute scheduling conflict. Mr. Sacco is an experienced charter captain and organizer of the Hyannis Bluefin Tuna Fest. Mr. Rosbeck said three organizers from the prestigious Falmouth Grand Prix tournament would also be involved.

“This would be an offshore multiple species event,” Mr. Rosbeck said. “It’s basically the Martha’s Vineyard Striped Bass and Bluefish tournament, offshore. Instead of going for stripers and bluefish, fishermen will go after marlin, tuna, wahoo and mahi-mahi.”

The tournament will have a point system for different species and a catch and release point system. Marlin and shark would be catch and release only.  “It’s basically an IGFA (International Game Fishing Association) structure that many tournaments use,” Mr. Rosbeck said.

The contest would donate ten percent of entry fees to charity and there would be education booths and seminars on the dock for the general public while the boats are on the water.  He also said marlin and shark that are caught would be tagged for scientific research.

Mr. Rosbeck said the organizers have modest expectations for the first year, estimating a field of 15-25 boats. “Steve [James] put on a great tournament, for any of us to fill that void is impossible,” said Mr. Rosbeck.

Shark Tournament

Matthew Kridel of Newington, Connecticut and Edgartown said he intends to make significant changes in the overall tone and operation of the Monster Shark tournament, which had generated opposition in recent years from those opposed to shark fishing and the carnival atmosphere associated with the daily weigh-ins of dead sharks.

“The sharks were hung for too long at the weigh in facility,” said Mr. Kriedel. “We’ll weigh them quickly, then put them behind a screened off area where the biologists can do their work. It’ll be a three sided tent so the public can look if they want to.”

Mr. Kriedel said there would be an optional catch and release category.

As part of a family-friendly approach, Mr. Kriedel said he also wants to set up an education tent during the tournament. “I’m a fisherman, I want to promote respect for the species,” he said. “I want to set up a place where people of all ages can learn about all the different species of sharks.”

Mr. Kriedel said he intends to give ten percent of proceeds to Island charities, as well as find local freezer space so the shark meat can be donated to the Island Food Pantry and to senior centers in the fall.

Oak Bluffs Harbormaster expressed skepticism about Mr. Kriedel’s lack of experience in organizing fishing tournaments. Mr. Kriedel said that he has organized large rugby events in Newport Rhode Island, and reiterated that he has fished in many tournaments.

Richard Combra, Jr. made a motion to recommend Mr. Sacco’s application to the board of selectmen.  Douglas Abdelnour,. Jr. seconded the motion.  It was unanimously approved by seven of the eight committee members. Selectman Michael Santoro, a member of the committee, abstained.

The harbor management committee recommendation now goes to the selectmen for approval at their regular meeting on Tuesday, February 11.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported that Mr. Sacco applied to hold the tournament on the weekend of July 17. Mr. Sacco has applied for the weekend of July 24.


  1. Just to address some of the incorrect items in this story: The other tournament is for the following weekend: July 25-26 plus or minus a day. I made the effort to try to keep the tournament a weigh in type of venue, however the powers that be wish to have a catch and release. To that end I WILL present that type of tournament to the selectmen on the 11th, so that they may address the will of the voters. I made a best effort to bring a tournament similar to past seasons to bear, but will adjust to make the town happy, and ask that fishermen support the towns decision to follow that course until the voters of Oak Bluffs decide otherwise. I will be presenting a Catch and release Shark Event to the Selectmen on the 11th of February at 4:15 in the Oak Bluffs library and encourage all to attend to voice their opinions. I firmly believe that I can provide the town with the best possible event regardless of the tournament format. I also support Mr. Saccos tournament and his decision to follow a multi species challenge. I wish him the utmost success. The Island can benefit in many ways by embracing any endeavor that will promote this fantastic Island. Please attend this meeting and let your opinions be heard. Thank you, Matthew Kriedel, Martha’s Vineyard Fish and Game

  2. I sat through the Harbor Management committee meeting yesterday on the two fishing tournament applications to the Town. I must say I left in a state of confusion, from what I understand the Committees role is to make recommendations to the Board of Selectman as to the impact on Harbor recreation, open spaces and beaches in terms of the events impact on those items and the Harbor in general. I was a developer for 20 years and dealt with many town committees, never did I see such a blatent disregard for an applicants rights and interests by a committee. Mr Kriedel addressed the issues of concern that the Town had and did a fairly good job in showing He could work with the Town. What shocked Me was the fact that Town Employees who were I would assume being paid during regular work hours were allowed to be voting members on a committee that effects private and public interests!! and there was another member of the committee who had a business relationship in the past with one of the applicants! It seemed to Me as an observer that the Harbor Advisory Committee had no interest in making any recommendations but had an agenda already in place. If I were Mr Kriedel I would be all over the Legal aspect of this Committee and its role in the Permit process. The biggest issue in Past tournaments according to the Committee itself was the public safety and behavior issues of the public, The Oak Bluffs Police Department was there and told the Committee that last years beefed up police presence was effective and adequate and They could handle it. That seemed to be passed over as a side note and There seemed to be no interest in even looking at Mr Kriedels proposal.

    1. WOW. If everyone feels so strongly that way, I am certain the organizers of the other tournament will step aside with no hard feelings. It is no secret I am helping them, as I gave the actual presentation. That said, my interest is in fishing the tournament, helping with Island communication and helping with sponsors. Truth is, these don’t make any money until they get much larger and need sponsor money to even get started. I have no interest in any of that and just want a great event to participate in and for the benefit of the Town of Oak Bluffs. While your opinions are certainly yours to share, you should take the time to learn about the facts until you spout off and try to discredit people. I am assuming you are not tied to the Island that well or you have not been for very long. If you were, you would understand that the Island is a very small place and if you cannot have had prior dealings or relationships with board members on the Island of Martha’s Vineyard, then almost the entire board, including the Board of Selectmen would have to abstain from most votes. I am personally familiar with the majority of the members of the Harbor Advisory, I have no reason to hide that. Yet, I suppose you challenge that since they no me, you immediately assume they are all corrupt and cannot stay impartial and decide what they feel is truly best for the town. To discredit someone and challenge their integrity like you are trying to do is a very poor way to win support for YOUR cause. Frankly, it was quite embarrassing for Mr. Kriedel to pull out a website list of sponsors from 2011, WHICH NEVER TOOK PLACE, as an attempt to discredit a Board member. Are we to assume that he found a printer in his pocket and that was not premeditated. I truly believe Mr. Kriedel now believes that was not the best choice of action. I spent a few minutes speaking with him after the meeting and sincerely explained that if the Selectmen choose to stick with the Shark Tournament, then I would happily support and help with Sponsors for him. Either options are great for the Town and I hope to enjoy either one. That said, since we are laying it all out there, switching the proposal to a catch and release shark tournament is not going to work as well and everyone knows it. While I do believe there are ways to do it correctly and have fun, its not going to work as well as the OBC proposal. Further, the recommended Oak Bluffs Challenge does not claim to be fully catch and release and if you come to the Selectmen’s meeting on Tuesday, I am sure you will hear the term “kill tournament” now used by Mr. Kriedel to discredit the OBC. Furthermore, removing the word “Monster” from the name, is no different than changing the name to, “The Oak Bluffs Shark Tournament with Candy Canes and Rainbows”. My only comment to that is, tread lightly, as one of the largest “Kill” tournaments in the country takes place right here on Martha’s Vineyard… how well would the MV Derby do if it switched to catch and release? Again, I hold no ill will toward anyone involved here and whatever direction the town chooses, I only hope that people can restrain from personal insults and slander towards our fellow Islanders. If anyone has any comments and suggestions to help change or offer advice to make the OBC better, most of you know where to find me and I would be happy to pass along your thoughts to the main organizers.

      1. While I respect Mr. Rosbeck, he is incorrect. The board member who seconded the application, is involved in, and is listed, even as of this very moment as a sponsor of the current 2014 tournament, NOT 2011, as listed on the website: http://www.hyannistunafest.com/links.php
        I do understand the island is a small place, but this applicant is from the Cape, not the Island, and has no business or home on the Island.

        1. Oh boy. I just wrote a novel explaining why it is bad to slander others when you do not know the facts, but you insist. I am sorry you will not let this go, but you are indeed very wrong. Check out that link again… closely. Notice anything? There are bars down the left side showing levels of sponsors, notice where this specific logo in question sits. Notice where the charity “One Mission” sits… I assume they are a “SPONSOR” as well? Better yet, don’t click on the “links” page, but go to the homepage or sponsorship page itself… do you see the logo? Do they know each other? Yes. Does most of the board know me? Yes. The Selectmen know me as well, can I not speak to them? Does that make us all corrupt and not truthful?? Were you actually listening to the Board and truly believe this ONE vote had any impact on the Board’s decision. For someone that is claiming to want to work hand-in-hand with the town and boards, this does not seem like a good start. Honestly, if you are all about working for and with the town and they preferred the OBC, why exactly would you yourself not be in support? I readily admit I would enjoy your tournament even though it is not my preference. Again, I think we should talk about the benefits of each and stay away from slander. Do we really need to prove who is really from and not from the Island (I am not, but I have lived and owned a business here permanently for over 10 years and my kids are born and raised here… guess what, even I am not a true Islander… Are you?) As I mentioned to you after the meeting, if you were to continue with your tournament and the Town wants it, I would be happy to help offer advice and sponsors for you instead. That all said, I am going to refrain from further discussion here, as it is clearly not productive. If you would like to meet or discuss it more on the phone, I would be happy to offer my sincere support and advice for you as well in preparation for next Tuesday.

      2. Mr. Rosbeck,
        You might want to go looking for some “candy canes and rainbows”. You are misrepresenting your tournament and its organizer, Mr. Damon Sacco. Mr. Sacco promotes himself and his charter business as “monster hunters” on his own website. He also has a “monster club” on his website. Mr. Sacco promotes the whole monster theme, and I’m the one with the candy canes?? Please take a look at your own team before criticizing me for taking the monster part out of my proposed event. “Monster Hunters”. I mean really??

        1. The obvious one to be misrepresenting their tournament is you, Mr. Kriedel. You took monster out of your tournament name only to sidestep what you are all about and you are changing your referendum because your original proposal was shot down yet you accuse Mr. Sacco and Mr. Rosbeck of misrepresentation. Strange.

          Then you proceed to attack Mr. Sacco, again, because outside of his tournament proposal he owns a charter fishing adventures monster hunt club. Did they propose to bring that to the island? No. So what is your point? Their proposal never included killing Marlin and shark. Did yours?

          You definitely need a candy cane, a rainbow…and perhaps a life raft.

  3. You are correct that I am not an island resident but I have been a visitor to Your great Island for decades and have the Utmost respect for Oak bluffs and its Town Government and have followed the politics and trends over the years especially with regards to the shark tournament and its impact to Oak Bluffs. Im not spouting off or trying to discredit anyone, especially You, and I have great respect for Mr Sacco and his Organization and what they are trying to do there with their tournament. My argument and mostly My observation is that the Harbor Committee is not doing what its intended task was designed to do. Prove Me wrong if You can but My interpretation of the Committees function is to make reccomendations to the Board of Selectman for each and every applicant wether they are positive or negative. Not to have a vote on which applicant They like better based on a comparison of the two!! And then to put it into a vote format as if They are passing an agenda, not to mention there are town employees not only voting but making the motion to vote for a second vote which is then done by a member who has His companys name as a sponsor on the Applicants website? How is this a fair process? Not to mention if this is truly a Committee making a Vote agenda that effects private interests there is a real issue with public employees voting and its a very clear conflict of interest. As far as the “Kill” tournament aspect issue goes both applicants have an extensive history of being involved in just such tournaments and the fact is the real issue here is the impact on the Town of Oak Bluffs by these tournaments. From what I heard at the Committee Meeting the Police are able to handle the crowds and the local Business community benefits in the 3 to 4 million dollar range with the “kill” tournament as it brings in the spectators and the public to Oak Bluffs. I really Cant believe You are trying to make it sound like a moral issue here over kill tournaments when You are working with an entity that has been in them for years. You really need to do Your own research before attacking Me on the facts. I did mine

    1. Im pretty sure that Mr.Rosbeck was clear and specifically said that the OBC
      was in fact a kill tournament and that only marlin and shark would would be catch and release. He isn’t taking any moral ground….what are you talking about?

  4. Politics will end this. Imagine two guys from Edgartown wanting to manage a tournament in OB. It would be like two guys from OB wanting to manage The bass derby. At least Mr. James wasnt connected with the island.If you think there isnt a wide division between all the towns on the island think again.

    1. You do know that the Derby committee chair has been held by Oak Bluffs residents before, right?

      1. No I didnt, I always thought Ed Jerome always ran it. Until recently.

    2. fyi one of the guys is from oak bluffs, how does that matter anyway? you are saying you would like a non islander to run the tournament rather than an islander? interesting

    3. I agree politics will end the shark tourny after 27 years and tens of millions of dollars to oak bluffs. politics will also end the tens of millions of dollars in the next few years that would gone to oak bluffs but will now go another town. its ironic that the town finally solves the crown control issues with increased police.more money for the officers also,and they decide to end the tournament. Very foolish move as you will hear from local business owners soon…………politics rarely do whats in a towns interest so why should oak bluffs be any different

  5. I’m very grateful that someone from the Vineyard cares enough to take the time to undertake such a huge project. The bottom line is that ‘the tournament’ was beneficial to the Oak Bluffs harbor; hence it was beneficial to ALL of Oak Bluffs; therefore it was beneficial to the entire Vineyard.

    With all the recent concern about improving Oak Bluffs, I would hope that support of any kind would be forthcoming freely. Discouraging the efforts to salvage this event seem counterproductive.

  6. seemed pretty clear to me that mr Rosbeck was using the “kill” tourney as a negative aspect of the Kriedel proposal. The fact is the OBC proposal is a “kill” tournament and its a shark tournament, shark and tuna and marlin yes but in fact not any more a catch and release tournament than Kriedels proposal as mr Rosbeck says “candy canes and Rainbows” if its a quacks like a duck its a duck. the non binding referendum says ” all shark tournaments will be catch and release” unless I missed something I understand the OBC to be a shark,tuna and marlin tournament, there is a kill element to which species is not specified in the referendum. So unless there is a new referendum by next Tuesday or OBC drops the shark part of their application both applications violate the referendum. Will be very interesting to see the discussion among the selectman on how the referendum plays into their decisions. From what was discussed at the Harbor committee meeting yesterday regarding the Police having the Tournament crowd under control last year and that being the main objection to the permit I find it hard to believe the Towns best interest is in a small 20 boat tournament that will generate very little business for the Community Business versus the 100 boats and Huge crowds that the Shark Tournament brings in. 3 to 4 million dollars is a lot of money that will be missed by those who have counted on it and that should be remembered at election time. To be honest I really don’t care which permit is issued, in fact I think they should both be issued but what bothers me here is the obvious unfairness that’s being shown here.

    1. Ummm, I was also at the meeting and he clearly stated that marlin and mako shark are catch and release only. I have fished many tournaments like this and mako sharks are sometimes caught on the troll while targeting other palegic species such as wahoo, marlin, and tuna, and the mako is a great game fish.

    1. Spencer I really don’t know what part of the OBC proposal you see can be construed as a “shark tournament” but I assure you that if it’s anything like the other offshore tournaments ive fished,it’s the furthest thing from that.  The fact of the matter is that you actually DO NOT target sharks at all. There will most likely be a point system with blue marlin and big eye tuna being the most points ( they tend to be the hardest to catch) followed by white and hatchet marlin, wahoo, yellowfin tuna, mahi mahi, sword fish (all of which have strict bag limit counts and coincide with national marine fisheries limits).  Like I said in my earlier post, mako sharks have been caught on the troll while targeting other species but I assure you they are not being targeted.  The object of the tournament is to win, to win you have to accrue the most points…..to get the most, you want to catch the fish worth the most points which mako sharks are probably at the bottom of the point scale and are limited to one per boat and will be catch and release only.

      Now I’m sure the OBC has a Local charity in mind that they will be supporting and I’m sure many of the local businesses will reap the benifits of this event by people coming to check out the tournament and all it has to offer by way of spectators coming down to check out some fish they may have never seen before like wahoo, swordfish,and big eye and yellow fin tuna.  There will certainly be some sort of Captains meeting and awards banquet (both of which will most certainly be held at a local venue).  All in all, this tournament will help the town financially as well as eliminate the stigma of the” monster shark tournament” that the town was trying to get away from.

  7. marlinman, I believe the Permit submitted by OBC says “tuna, Marlin and catch and release shark division. The referendum says all shark tournaments will be catch and release and does not specify the species, when you pass a referendum it needs to be very detailed to stand any legal test and that referendum is not only non binding but its non specific. If the shark tournament has a Tuna division that lands fish then its not a catch and release tourney. Anyway yes I agree the OBC tourney is a really great little contest and it has something for everyone but the problem is it will be a little event. it falls on the weekend before the tristate tuna tourney at Block island which draws all of the big players and will keep the OBC tourny I would bet around 20 boats every year, which is fine if you want a quiet event but wont draw any real monies to Oak Bluffs, The shark tournament even though its controversial draws huge monies to Oak Bluffs and would bring more charity monies than the OBC. But I think its Mute at this point as anyone could see at that Theatrical produced Harbor committee meeting that the decisions have already been made to end the shark tournament. I just hope the Citizens take note of how that committee treated Mr kriedel. They didn’t even make a recommendation of any sort as they are required. and ask yourself why