A Message of Thanks from the Derby Chairman

Phil Horton
On behalf of the Derby Committee, I’d like to welcome you to the 78th Annual Martha’s Vineyard Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby. Our dedicated and hard-working Committee members and volunteer support staff hope you enjoy the experience. Whether this is your first Derby or one that adds another Derby badge to your large collection, I hope you enjoy being part of this great island tradition.

I recently had the privilege of attending the 2023 MVRHS Awards Night. This year the Derby awarded $90,000 to thirteen deserving regional high school and charter school graduates. I encourage you to read the scholarship section of this booklet to learn more about this year’s recipients. Your participation in the Derby allows us to continue to pay forward to the island community through our scholarship program, our fillet distribution program for island seniors, and other community activities. We appreciate your support.

I want to extend my personal thanks, along with the Derby Committee, to our Grand Prize sponsor, Eastern Boats, and our hat sponsor, Vineyard Vines for their generous donations. We are also grateful to the many other companies, island businesses, and organizations that provide the many prizes and goods to support this great event. To the island restaurants and shops that provide donations of food and beverages to the Headquarters staff – a heartfelt thank you. I encourage all participants to support our sponsors and the island businesses that contribute to the Derby.

The competitive spirit runs high during the Derby. Enjoy the thrill of competition, but please conduct yourself in a manner that honors this remarkable event. Please respect the Derby rules and private property rights. Help protect the amazing beaches and pristine waters that we have the opportunity to enjoy during the Derby. Leave only your footprints on the beach and your wake on the water. Most of all, please respect your fellow participants and yourself. Please refer to this year’s Rules Brochure as even long-time participants can benefit from a quick review and refresher.

Indeed, the Derby is about catching the biggest fish, but please don’t forget to enjoy your time on the water, and your fellow anglers. Please practice safe, and sportsmanlike behaviors on the beach and on the water.

Last year we saw two examples of great sportsmanship worthy of mention. The first is the joint winners of the 77’th Derby Sportsmanship Award – Jeff Komarinetz and Sandy Fisher. These two individuals made it possible for a longtime resident Derby angler suffering from MS to return to shore fishing, adapting a fighting chair to an OSV capable pickup. The second is the efforts of Committee member Mike Cassidy, his wife Deborah, along with multiple volunteers who made it possible for a Make-A-Wish participant Finn Sears to fish the 77th Derby.

I hope you enjoy the Derby, not just the fishing, but the opportunity to spend time with family and friends, and reconnect with yourself and this amazing island. Please release any fish not destined for weigh-in quickly and carefully. Please keep any fish planned for donation to the fillet program on ice – as soon as caught if possible.

Tight Lines to All.

Phil Horton

Chairman, Derby Committee