FinsWeekend A Hit On The Links And The High Seas

Posted May 20, 2013

Perfect weather and strong attendance boost annual charity event.

Some lucky person in a different part of the Sunshine State might have been the big Powerball winner over the weekend, but the Miami Dolphins Foundation and the organizers of FinsWeekend hit the weather lottery.

Starting last Thursday night with the Celebrity Draw Party at Turnberry Isle, continuing into Friday morning’s competitive round and culminating with a full day of deep sea fishing on Saturday, the conditions were immaculate. It only made the act of raising money for a good cause that much more fun.

“This is the best charitable event in all of professional sports when you look at the golf Thursday night and Friday, fishing party Friday night, fishing Saturday and the awards dinner,” said Miami Dolphins CEO Mike Dee, whose team came in second place in the FinsWeekend Golf Tournament sponsored by Waste Management. “Some organizations do golf tournaments, I don’t know of many organizations that do fishing tournaments but when you put it all together and you have the player participation and the alumni participation it’s just a great event. It’s one of a kind and one of the things that separates the Dolphins is not just how much fun this is but how much money we raise.”

Dee was teamed up with Hall-of-Fame quarterback Dan Marino, Gerry Litrento and Nelson Lazo on the links and was edged out by the South Florida Chevy Dealers. They were led by Carlos Latour, David Maus, Donnie Hammonds and former Dolphins tight end Jed Weaver.

After a golf awards luncheon presented by Doctors Hospital, the action shifted from Aventura down to Miami Beach for the Hook & Tackle Captain’s Party at the Miami Beach Marina. There was a silent auction and entertainment to get everyone geared up for a beautiful day out on the Atlantic Ocean in the Miami Dolphins Foundation Fishing Tournament presented by South Florida Chevy Dealers.

“It was a great day with just a nice, slight breeze and the fish were biting,” said FinsWeekend Chairman Jeff Peck, who was onboard Weez in the Keys with Dee, quarterback Ryan Tannehill and his wife, Lauren, defensive back Jimmy Wilson and linebacker Austin Spitler. “We had just over 80 boats, which is an amazing amount. We keep getting bigger and better every year and we raise more money to give more back to the community, which is what it’s all about for us here. Everybody had a good time and the weather was perfect throughout.”

Chevy’s Showtime captured the overall title by bringing in a total weight of 128.3 pounds of fish, led by the crew of Hugo Nunez, Robert Pudley and Carlos Brito. Chessie Fishing finished second with 105.7 pounds and Angler Management places third with 99.4 pounds.

Tannehill missed out on the experience last year because he was at the NFL Rookie Symposium so he made sure to take it all in this time around, competing in both the golf and the fishing. He actually reeled in a very large sailfish that he had to throw back into the water because only dolphins, tuna, kingfish and wahoo are eligible to be weighed in.

As it turned out, Lauren Tannehill’s 21-pound kingfish got her first place in the Ladies Division for that type of fish and was just a little bit heavier than the kingfish Ryan put on the scales. But he took the entire weekend in stride.

“She got the bigger weigh-in fish, I got a bigger sailfish so we’ll have our arguments on who has the better fish,” Tannehill said. “She’ll definitely say that hers is better since she got to weigh it in but it was a good time all around. The whole weekend was a lot of fun just to get out and see all of the Dolphins supporters and sponsors. It’s really an enjoyable weekend and one that I’ll look forward to every year.”

Offensive tackle Jonathan Martin was another first-timer and this happened to be his first time fishing on the open water, but he managed to make it back to shore no worst for wear.

Meanwhile, former Dolphins defensive end Jeff Cross is a true veteran, having taken part in the fishing tournament for the past decade, even back when it took place down in the Keys.

“It’s nice that they moved it up to May and got out of June when the weather’s a little rougher,” Cross said. “It’s a phenomenal weekend and a good time for the guys, especially for someone that golfs and fishes. The waters were a little choppy going out and coming back in but it was a good day and this has become one of the largest tournaments in the state of Florida.

General Manager Jeff Ireland wound up getting a fishing lesson from his son, Riley, who celebrated his 12th birthday on Saturday by winning the Junior Division with a 28.7-pound tuna. The whole Ireland family enjoyed the day and Ireland also played in the golf tournament.

This is the fifth FinsWeekend that Ireland has participated in and this one proved to be the most special because of how his son performed on the open water. In addition to the winning tuna, Riley also reeled in three sailfish and two dolphins.

“They get better and better every year,” Ireland said. “The event itself is outstanding and we’re raising a lot of money for some great charities and I’m just glad to be a part of it. It’s all football from this point on for our players so this is a great event to sort of kickoff a football month coming up.”

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