2015-07-17 / Front Page

Sopo’s finest to compete for title

By Duke Harrington
Staff Writer


Rob Soucy, left, president of Port Harbor Marina, poses on one of the new boats in his company's showroom for the inaugural Guns and Hoses Fishing Challenge held as a thank you to the city's firefighters and police officers. Rooting for the "hosers" are, from left, city firefighters Phil Selberg, J. R. Carter, Jason Perry and Lou Tirado, who will captain one of six boats in the Aug. 4 tournament. (Duke Harrington photo) Rob Soucy, left, president of Port Harbor Marina, poses on one of the new boats in his company's showroom for the inaugural Guns and Hoses Fishing Challenge held as a thank you to the city's firefighters and police officers. Rooting for the "hosers" are, from left, city firefighters Phil Selberg, J. R. Carter, Jason Perry and Lou Tirado, who will captain one of six boats in the Aug. 4 tournament. (Duke Harrington photo) SOUTH PORTLAND — Many years ago, when Rob Soucy, president of Port Harbor Marine, had a showroom on Waterman Drive, he arrived to work one morning to find a disheveled transient sleeping in one of his boats. Soucy immediately called police, and was amazed at what happened next.

"I didn't know if this guy had a knife, or a gun, or whatever, and neither did they, but they did not hesitate to go in (to the boat) and take care of things. It really hit home with me then that these guys put their lives on the line for us every day."

Firefighter/ Paramedic Chris Swenson last season during a shark fishing tournament. (Courtesy photo)

Firefighter/ Paramedic Chris Swenson last season during a shark fishing tournament. (Courtesy photo)

That memory was still fresh earlier this year when the Soucy family, having donated the ice rink at Wainwright Athletic Complex two years ago, was casting about for some new way to give back to the city.

That new way will take place Tuesday, Aug. 4, when

Port Harbor Marine hosts the inaugural “Guns and Hoses” Fishing Challenge pitting nine members of the South Portland Police Department against nine from the South Portland Fire Department.

Anglers from each force will "battle for their badge" in an all-day saltwater fishing tournament in the waters of Casco Bay, returning to land where they will be greeted by family, friends and co-workers for a weigh-in and celebratory cookout. Port Harbor Marine will supply the boats, captains and gear to make it a day to remember and the public is invited to the weigh-in to cheer the winning department as it lands bragging rights for the coming year, Soucy said.

“This isn't about us," Soucy said Tuesday. "Much like our annual and very successful Veterans Appreciation Fishing Tournament, we want to say thanks to the men and women who serve and protect our city every day and feel the Guns & Hoses Fishing Challenge will be a great event for the community.

"Having operated our business in the city of South Portland for more than 40 years, and with more than 60 percent of our crew living here in South Portland, we thought this would be a fun and entertaining way of showing our appreciation for the South Portland Police and Fire Departments," Soucy said.

"This is great," firefighter/paramedic Jason Perry said on Tuesday. "It's nice of them to put this on. It demonstrates how much they care about their community and its emergency services, so, we appreciate it a lot."

Perry however, will not be competing for his department’s honor. The tournament will feature three boats on each time, each with a captain, first mate and three fishermen. The fire department chose its nine team members by drawing names from a hat.

"Our veterans tournament has grown quite a lot over the past seven years — to as many as 40 boats and 140 veterans — so, we hope maybe we can add more boats to this event next year, if we can find enough captains."

Blue sharks will be scored on a catch and release basis, using the honor system, Soucy said.

"These are guys who serve our city, so we think they'll be honest about how many they caught," Soucy said, with a laugh.

All other fish types will be brought in to shore, where each team will score a set number of points per pound for each species, up to a maximum of 15 fish per side.

"It'll be a team thing. So, one boat could get totally skunked, but then have it all made up by another one," Soucy said.

Still, the firefighters may have an advantage. South Portland native Luis Tirado has been on the fire department for four years, but his family has kept a berth at The Breakwater for 25 years. In fact, Tirado worked the Port Harbor Marine docks as a teenager. Now, having a boat of his own, he'll serve as one of the three ship's captains for the fire department team. Still, he resisted the temptation to talk smack, refusing to predict a fire department win.

"There are a lot of guys from both sides who really fish a lot. They're all good," he said, adding his thanks to Perry's

"Like everyone on the department, I don't do this job for the recognition," he said. "Still, when you do get recognized, it's nice. Especially when it comes from people from the town. It's nice. It's simple. And it allows us to just relax and hang out with our co-workers off the job."

That, said Soucy, is the point.

"Especially with all the negative press police have been getting nationwide lately," he said.

Soucy said his family has not calculated a cost to stage the tournament. However, he did say that a similar event staged in the past by Port Harbor Marine, which pitted Red Sox fans against of Yankees fans, generally ran to roughly $4,000.

"But that's not important," Soucy said. "Our business is on city owned property, so this is just our way of giving thanks and, with our company motto being 'Just for fun,' we thought this was the best way to do that."

In addition to the Aug. 4 Guns and Hoses event, the seventh annual veterans fishing tournament will be staged July 25. Port Harbor Marine is still searching for qualified captains willing to donate their time and boats to serve as many veterans as possible. To volunteer, call 767-3254 or email janderson@portharbormarine.com

FMI

The Guns and Hoses Fishing Challenge will be held 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 4 at Spring Point Marina, 1 Spring Point Drive in South Portland.

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