Beach Cleanup, Donations, Not Fishing, Mark Northside Sportfishing Club’s Bastille Day

A beach Cleanup at Hull Bay, St. Thomas. (Photo by Dean Barnes)

Sunday, July 12, would have marked the 32nd Bastille Day Kingfish Tournament, hosted by the Northside Sportfishing Club. While this year’s tournament was canceled because of the territorywide safety mandates due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the virus didn’t stop the club from continuing its rich tradition and the founding mission of giving back to the community.

A dozen club members, including tournament organizers and volunteers, undertook a socially distanced cleanup of Hull Bay beach, which included planting several sea grape trees and maho trees. At the cleanup’s conclusion, the club handed out cash donations to community organizations and scholarship recipients.

“We experienced a new form of bad luck this year. COVID 19 resulted in a fishless non-event. Regardless, the club still wanted to give back to the community. We were pleased to provide three students of French descent scholarships and provide donations to local beneficiaries as customary. Now more than ever the Joseph Sibilly School, St. Thomas Rescue, Civil Air Patrol and Nana Baby Children’s Home need our help and we are pleased to assist,” said Catherine Bryan, one of the tournament’s co-directors.

Since its start in 1987 to present, the Northside Sportfishing Club, through the Bastille Day Kingfish Tournament, has donated nearly $150,000 to community organizations and nearly $60,000 in college scholarships.

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“On behalf of Principal [Merlene] Jones, the staff and students, we thank the tournament for its donation each year to the Joseph Sibilly School. It goes a long way and it means a lot to the school,” said teacher Sherilyn Hodge, who received the donation.

Sherilyn Hodge, left, a teacher at Joseph Sibilly Elementary School receives a check from Jessica LaPlace, one of the tournament organizers. (Photo by Dean Barnes)

This year’s three scholarship awardees are Edwin Bryan III, currently in his last year studying cybersecurity at the University of Tampa in Florida; Adrianna Bryan, a 2020 graduate of Sts. Peter & Paul Catholic School, who will study business and hospitality management at the University of the Virgin Islands; and Ryan Querrard, also a 2020 Sts. Peter & Paul graduate, who will study computer engineering at the University of the Virgin Islands.

“I’ve come down and volunteered at the tournament every year,” said Bryan. “The scholarship means a lot.”

Querrard has also volunteered at the Bastille Day Kingfish Tournament for many years and is grateful for the scholarship. “I’ve sold soft drinks, worked in the children’s area and helped out in many ways over the years.”

To commemorate the tournament’s 30-plus years, the club has posted a slideshow on its Facebook page @ Northside Sportfishing Club.

Scholarship recipients included Ryan Querrard, left, and Adrianna Bryan. Third recipient Edwin Bryan III is not pictured. (Photo by Dean Barnes)

The Northside Sportfishing Club’s annual Bastille Day Kingfish Tournament is known for attracting more participants than any other event of its kind in the U.S. Virgin Islands, averaging some 60 boats and nearly 200 anglers annually.

Internationally recognized as well, the tournament was named one of the top 10 destinations in the world to celebrate Bastille Day by online travel advisor Hotwire.com. Through strong and long-standing sponsor support, entry fees are low and prizes are great, including a $3,000 prize for the angler that catches the largest kingfish.

Recurrent sponsors of the Bastille Day Kingfish Tournament are Coors Light and Captain Morgan, distributed by Bellows International; Offshore Marine, the YAMAHA, Yanmar and Volvo distributor in the Virgin Islands; NEMWIL and Red Hook Agencies, Inc.; TOPA Insurance Services Inc.; Budget Marine, the Caribbean’s Leading Chandlery; Hawaiian Tropic; Scoops & Brew Gelato and Coffee Bar; and Hull Bay Hideaway.

For more information, call 340-998-0854, or go to Facebook @ Northside Sportfishing Club.

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