When Ron Starling, Wayne Lewis and Joe Galati considered bringing a world-class billfish tournament back to the Destin area, it was clear they needed a good destination: one with not just an accommodating marina but also lodging, restaurants, nightlife and more. The logical choice was the Sandestin® Golf and Beach Resort, and the concept of the ECBC gained traction. While the Galatis were not directly involved with the formation of the tournament, they offered their support through sponsorship and also bringing in their clients to fish, and a legend was born. Over the years the ECBC has grown significantly in several aspects—participation, prize money, even spectators—and through it all the Galati team has continued their support.
“We felt that Sandestin would be a great venue for the whole family to attend,” Joe Galati says. “It’s a great town with great fishing—our clients really enjoy this tournament. The Sandestin team ran with the concept and they continue to do a great job with it every year.” Aside from the location he cites a professional tournament management team and historically good fishing as additional reasons for the success of the ECBC.
As for the future, Galati is seeing higher tournament participation numbers across the board in the northern Gulf of Mexico. “When the economy slowed, our owners didn’t quit fishing altogether, they just didn’t fish quite as many tournaments each year. Now those numbers are coming back,” he says.
And technology is also helping. “The boats are bigger and faster, the motors don’t smoke as much and the electronics packages are more impressive than ever before,” Galati reports. “Almost all of our brands have new models coming out with features that aren’t available on used boats, so that’s also helping drive the market.” As an example he points to the rise in popularity of gyro-stabilizers like the SeaKeeper system, which greatly dampens the motion of a boat at sea. “It’s raised the level of comfort for the owners and crews who spend the night offshore during these tournaments, so that’s also helped the overall growth,” he says.
And since the earliest years of the ECBC right through the 2015 edition, Galati Yacht Sales has been there with their support and their clients. For more information visit www.galatiyachts.com.