The Ernest Hemingway International Bill Fishing Tournament will celebrate its 67th anniversary this year, from May 29 to June 3 at the Marina Hemingway, Havana. Its history is a permanent imprint of the presence of the great American writer and Nobel Prize for Literature Ernest Hemingway in Havana, who, with his passion and enthusiasm for sport fishing, unconditionally supported the event during its early years. Over the last decade, the competition has attracted crews from more than 30 countries, including the US, Russia, Cuba, the UK, Italy, France and Spain, among others.
Back in May 26, 1950, thirty-six of the best sports yachts from Havana’s yacht clubs sailed past the narrow inlet at the Morro Castle located at the entrance of Havana Bay and out into the Gulf Stream. One of the boats was the “Pilar” owned by Ernest Hemingway, who competed in the frst bill fshing tournament representing the International Nautical Club of Havana.
A few years later, a group of fshermen suggested that the tournament be named after the famous writer because of his love and passion for the sport. Hemingway not only accepted, but donated the cups won by him during the frst three tournaments and continued to take frst place from 1953 to 1955.
In 1959, Hemingway moved to Idaho, US, but came back to Cuba in 1960 for the awarding of the cups at the 11th Hemingway International Tournament. There, he met the leader of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro. This was the year when Marina Hemingway became the tournament’s headquarters.
No tournaments were held in 1961 and 1962 but were resumed in 1963 with a national scope until 1977, regaining its international status in 1978. The creation in 1992 of the Hemingway International Yacht Club of Cuba (CNIH) gave the Hemingway tournaments a new life based on friendly relations with fshing clubs, specialized publications and fshermen.
In 1997, with the help of the Billfsh Foundation and the direct assistance of Mr. Ralph “Agie” Vicente, Representative of the Billfsh Foundation for the Caribbean, HIYC Commodore Jose Miguel Diaz Escrich introduced the method of catch and release in the Hemingway Tournament.
This is one of the oldest fshing tournaments in the world, preceded only by the Nova Scotia International Tuna Tournament and the Tarpon Fishing Tournament in Mexico.
Thanks to LaHabana.com for this article.