In September 2001 I was sitting on Peter Pakula's deck looking at the water and discussing how friendly all the members of the Marlin Bar (gamefishing web site forum) seemed to be. Somewhere in that conversation, I suggested we try to get as many people together as we could to have a Big Fishing Weekend.
Pete sort of smiled, with a grin that said, “We’ll see about that.”
As soon as I got back to Sydney, I started letting people know about my plans for us all to meet at Port Stephens for a fishing weekend. We all talk over the net, and a lot of us had fished together on separate occasions, so getting together and doing what we love for a weekend was a great idea.
Wayne Shelley helped spread the word of what we were calling ‘The Friendly Tournament’.
I enlisted John Zac from Tailored Marine Accessories (owner of Pakula Tackle Australia) as the major sponsor and they donated heaps of goodies. Other Marlin Bar members, like Leon Akriditis from Victoria, also found people willing to support a fun weekend that rapidly snowballed into something never seen before in gamefishing circles. With people throwing products at us in support, Leon suggested we run an auction to raise some money.
Around the same time, Pete was generous enough to help organise things through the Marlin Bar, which made it easy for members to see what we were up to. Matty Sanders also got involved and rounded up more donations and auction items.
We had the makings of a tournament, full of people who realised that there are people out there who need some support. Peter Pakula’s wife Jo was diagnosed with breast cancer whilst we were still planning the tournament so we decided to honour Jo and other cancer sufferers by donating money to cancer charities. We also renamed the event the Pakula Friendly Tournament (PFT).
The tournament grew to 140+ entrants and now includes a full briefing night, a formal dinner, an auction, lots of fishing, lots of fun, and a farewell night.
Jo’s treatment has been going well thankfully and her positive attitude helped drive what has become the biggest fishing competition fundraiser for charity on the east coast.
Thanks to John Zac, Mario Zac, Peter and Jo Pakula, Matt Sanders, Leon Akriditis, Wayne Shelley, Craig Henry and Steve Iori. Without these people helping to drive this thing, it wouldn’t be what it is now. We have raised close to $100, 000 for charity in four years, and want to thank all of our participants.
We started the PFT for fun – raising money for breast cancer research, and helping Camp Quality is just the icing on the cake.
For me, the PFT is the one time a year that I get to see all of my mates in one place at one time. Having no prizes and no trophies, leaves no room for egos. We’re all just fishos having fun – hopefully, it will always be that way. - Brett Chain
Sharyn Chain with a tag and release 50kg black marlin. PFT is all about helping charity and helping everyone catch as many fish as possible.Reads: 1671