The competition events went reasonably well and James as always managed to find time around running the competitions to coach several of the attendees with tips that would improve their distance at the various events. One of these was Mike Heritage who blitzed his S55g S70 record by 20 feet, plus I finally beat my own T120 record by a couple of feet – and I should recognise my coach, James, in helping me to achieve this.
One of the sad aspects of today’s Meeting was that it is Zhongxiang’s last BFCC meeting as he returns to China next month. We first met him at the Sportfish Show, several years ago – I’ll hand this part of the FP over to James: “At the sportfish show you see lots of people casting, those within the fishing trade and ‘punters’ attending to enjoy the show (and I think the sportfish one is the best) and to try out the latest gear. I spotted Zhongxiang’s casting because it stood out from the crowd – it was super smooth, with nice shaped loops. I remember mentioning this to Tracy who was manning the BFCC stall at the time – something along the lines of ‘that chap could make a very decent distance caster’. At some point in the weekend Zhongxiang spoke to me (I think we’re both pretty shy, so I’m glad he plucked up the courage to approach me) and said something along the lines of ‘I want to be able to cast like you’. Thinking back this always makes me smile because now I would love to be able to cast like Zhongxiang. Anyway, we spoke, and I realised he was a casting geek like me and he was soon signed up to the BFCC. I’ve just looked Zhongxiang’s results from the first BFCC competition he entered; 92ft in the #5 and 97ft in the #7, however I think all in attendance could see the potential. If we roll on to today’s meeting, he won the #5, #7 and ST27, and Zhongxiang is one of a small, elite group that have cast a #5 over 130ft in competition. He’s also the BFCC accuracy record holder, although it was the #5 record that he really wanted. Given time I’m in no doubt he would have beaten it too – I’ve seen him exceed Bart’s record distance before and after the 3 minutes that count, and in my view he’s one of the finest #5 weight casters in the world today.
I should also mention where his nickname, ‘TC’ came from. In 2018 the world fly casting championships were held in Cumbria. It was at about this time that Zhongxiang, through his dedication to practice had routinely started beating me. He therefore decided to enter the world championships representing his home nation of China. I don’t think distance casting is a big thing in China yet (maybe things will change when he goes back?), as such Zhongxiang was his countries only participant. It was therefore logical to me to introduce him to people as ‘Team China’ or ‘TC’ for short. And yes, TC beat me in the subsequent world championships.
I’m going to miss you TC, but I’m sure we’ll meet up again at some time for some fishing, casting or drinking – at least I know I can still beat you at the latter one. At this point, I’ll hand this FP back to Tracy.”
Good luck to Zhongxiang in his future activities, I will certainly miss you also in our events, your casting style is amazing; you are wonderful in helping to run the competitions; and you are as mad about fishing as James and I.
We should recognise Kei Okamato in that he has attended all 5 Meetings this year to try to retain his 2019 BFCC Overall Championship (noting that Covid won in 2020 ;-) ), again I couldn’t run the competition events without Kei’s support. This year, James has been dominant winning the overall event at all 5 of the meetings held, thus clearly winning the 2021 Championship. Who knows who could win in 2022…
Cheers Tracy & James