MIRI - A Singaporean team has swept nearly all the prizes in an annual international deep sea fishing tournament held off the shores of Miri, Malaysia.
The 12 Singaporean anglers on board their team boat Star Fish 3, and their two Malaysian boat captains, took home 14 of 15 individual category prizes at the four-day Miri International Deep Sea Fishing Tournament, organised by Sarawak's Miri Anglers Club.
Mr Ng Cher How won the top cash prize of RM20,000 (S$6,466) with a grouper weighing 61.68kg, while second place went to Mr Lee Keng Ho with a 49.48kg grouper. He received RM6,000.
Ms Doreen Ang, who was third with a 46.54kg grouper, also made history as the first woman to place among the top three positions in the tournament. She took home RM3,000.
Their teammates bagged the next 11 biggest catches, while a participant from China placed 15th.
They also emerged champions in the Team category - Mr Lee Wang Long, Mr Tan Kok Soon and Mr Tan Kim Kuan received RM5,000 for their grouper, amberjack and ruby snapper, which weighed a total of 52.9kg.
Besides cash prizes, the winners also received a set of fishing tackle and certificates.
Now in its 10th year, the tournament gathered over 120 anglers from places such as China, Hong Kong, Brunei and South Korea.
Participants set off from Marina Bay in Miri on Thursday (May 11) for the famed Luconia Shoals in the South China Sea, about 100km away. They returned on Sunday (May 14).
Speaking to The Straits Times on Monday (May 15), team captain Ivan Goh said that the team's win was "unexpected", as they faced several challenges while out at sea.
"We met with bad weather and some of us also had seasickness, as the waters got quite choppy. The fishing tackle that we used during the tournament was also unfamiliar to us - it was more heavy duty," he said.
The 38-year-old part time fishing guide added that while the team was made up of regular anglers, they had little experience with fishing in such deep waters, which measured about 200m deep.
Mr Goh first participated in the tournament in 2015 with a friend and finished 6th.
It inspired him to put together an all-Singaporean team for this year's tournament where he took the 7th spot for his 17.12kg ruby snapper.
"I was surprised when everyone (in my team) could go on stage to collect a prize. We are definitely going to celebrate," said Mr Goh, who also won the award for the heaviest grouper in the Fish Species category. It weighed 9.86kg.
Mr Ng had submitted his 61.68kg catch in a different category.
To snag her win, Ms Ang said that she started physical training about nine months ago, including lifting weights three times a week, to ensure she was fit for the tournament. She is married to Mr Goh.
"I was going to be part of an all-guys team so I told myself that I didn't want to be a burden to them. I was determined to be mentally and physically prepared for this," said the 35-year-old security accounts manager, who described the tournament as "tedious" and "challenging".
Adding that the win came as surprise to her, she said: "You need plenty of luck for the fish to take your bait. I'm glad to have the cooperation of the team, who also gave me moral support by cheering me on."
The 12 Singaporeans will be returning home on Wednesday.