Already into its fourth year, Rapala Thailand’s Rapala Day is a much anticipated fishing tournament in the local fishing fraternity. The Rapala Day series of competitions are traditionally held at fishing ponds three times a year, culminating in a grand final tournament at the end of the calendar year with many attractive Rapala prizes up for grabs as well as an all-expenses paid fishing trip to an overseas destination for the grand champion.
This year marks a new milestone for the Rapala Day series, with the inaugural boat-based Rapala Day Tournament held from 8-9th November at Kaeng Krachan Dam in Thailand’s Petchaburi province. With 200 participants and 100 boats, this was one of the largest boat-based tournaments in Thailand, possibly even South East Asia. Organized by Rapala VMC Thailand Co. Ltd., the intent of the tournament was to foster a spirit of friendly competition and camaraderie among Thai anglers in a fun, carnival-like setting.
Early Saturday morning saw a large convoy of four-wheel drives with boats in tow leave the official competition meeting point located just at the outskirts of Bangkok. The 2.5-hour journey to Kaeng Krachan ended with each boat launched and parked neatly by the water’s edge ready for the following day’s action. For participants without their own boats, local Thai boats with powerful, long-tail engines were provided along with the services of a local Thai guide. The rest of the afternoon was free and easy, with participants checking out the various Rapala and Daiwa products on display or engaged with social games at the games booths.
There was a carnival-like mood in the air throughout the afternoon into the night. The participants were treated to a sumptuous sit-down dinner filled with activities, games and product presentations given by Fred Goh, Sales and Marketing Manager for South East Asia as well as Jari Kokkonen, Director for Rapala Lures Sales.
The official flag off at 6.00am the following day marked the start of Rapala Day 2014. It was an awesome sight, with the armada of boats powering off from the starting point towards the various locations throughout the dam. The competition rules were rather unique. Instead of catching the largest fish to win the tournament, participants had to catch two species: Jungle Perch (Hampala macrolepidota) of not more than 1.5 kilograms and Giant Snakehead (Channa micropeltes) of not more than 3.5 kilograms. The total combined weight should not exceed 5 kilograms. The idea of this approach to the competition rules was to rule out any form of dispute, should there be any, arising from catching the largest fish. The maximum weight limit of both categories were not known prior to participants and were only announced early morning prior to the tournament.
The tournament officially ended at 4.00pm the very same day with many participants bringing in their catch of Jungle Perch and Giant Snakehead for the official weigh-in. There were some impressive Giant Snakehead and Jungle Perch caught that normally would stand a chance of winning top position but unfortunately, did not make it to the charts in this tournament as they exceeded their respected size limits. This year’s Rapala Day Champion title went to Mr Sastra Sakuntanaga who clinched the top position by catching a Giant Snakehead of 3.03kg and Jungle Perch of 1.12kg, giving him a combined weight of 4.17kg.
The inaugural boat-based Rapala Day 2014 Tournament sets a new benchmark for professional sport fishing in Thailand. There are already plans to extend Rapala Day to other countries in South East Asia to make it a truly regional, world-class sport fishing competition.