As the derby enters its third week, many fishermen no doubt have begun to dream about the two grand prizes — a new 22-foot Eastern center console boat with outboard and trailer, and a new 2012 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 truck.
Eastern Boats has provided the winning boat for four years. The Clay Family Dealership has provided the truck for 13 years. One of the four top shore fishermen with the largest fish will walk away with the boat. One of the top four boat fishermen will walk away with the truck.
In conversations with the Gazette this week the two main sponsors of the grand prizes spoke about their interest in and connection with the annual fishing contest.
“The derby appreciates us and we appreciate the derby,” said Bob Bourdeau, 54, president of Eastern Boats, located in Milton, N.H. Mr. Bourdeau said he enjoys fishing, including bottom fishing for cod out of Kittery, Me. He does not fish the derby, but finds a kindred spirit in it nonetheless. “We get a fair amount of business from the Cape. It is all hand in hand,” he said.
Bob Clay and his wife Fran, founders of Clay Family Dealerships, are now retired and live on Chappaquiddick where they do a lot of recreational fishing. Last week Mrs. Clay hooked a 12.43-pound false albacore from a boat, giving her second place in the all-tackle division leader board.
Mr. Clay recalled years ago attending a derby awards ceremony with his wife and how they were struck by what they saw. “I saw all these prizes going to the children. I went away from that experience, of watching all the bicycles being awarded, the fishing gear going to the children; I went away from the experience feeling that this was a very healthy experience for the children. This is a healthy activity,” he said.
“Fran and I have met a lot of great fishermen,” he continued. “So it started with supporting the derby. Nothing is forever, but my sons Brian, Scott and David Clay, and my daughter Kim continue. They all fish. They run the Clay Family Dealerships.”
Tomorrow from noon to 4 p.m., the derby is hosting Meet Eastern Boats Day at derby headquarters at the foot of Main street in Edgartown. “We want folks in the derby to get to know more about our grand prize sponsors,” said Chuck Hodgkinson, derby chairman.
The afternoon event includes a cookout with grilled hamburgers and hot dogs. Derby officials will be on hand with Scott Landry, the Eastern company factory representative, who will have free hats and other merchandise to give away.
Steve Morris of Dick’s Bait and Tackle Shop, the winner of the Eastern boat grand prize last year, will have his boat tied up and available for viewing at the dock. If the weather is good, rides may be offered, too.
Mr. Bourdeau said he will not attend the event.
Mr. Clay had words of gratitude for the Islanders who support his family business. “I can say that a lot of Martha’s Vineyard people go to the dealerships to buy our products. They don’t have to do that. That is a very nice gesture, and we appreciate it,” he said.
Mr. Hodgkinson said: “A lot of tournaments and events, such as the derby, have many sponsors. The grand prize sponsors have been with us through good times and bad. I don’t just refer to them as sponsors. I think of them as a partnership, especially through these hard economic times. They’ve stuck with the derby and they continue to help. They believe in what they are doing and we believe in what they are doing for us.”