Sequins, feathers and hot pink were the dominant accents at the Pirate’s Cove Marina Pavilion Saturday night as the 33rd annual Alice Kelly Ladies Only Memorial Billfish Tournament got underway. Named after a passionate local angler and victim of cancer, proceeds of this memorial event go to the Interfaith Community Outreach—Cancer Program to help support Outer Banks residents afflicted with the insidious disease. The mood was festive and upbeat with 154 teams competing.

The Alice Kelly targets billfish for release tallies only. Blue marlin score 150 points, while white marlin, sailfish, spearfish and swordfish count for 100 points apiece. Jackpot entries for the most billfish release points and heaviest dolphin (winner take all) earn cash payouts. Trophies are awarded to the top teams. Some of the anglers are very experienced, while others are fishing for the first time. All are participating for the cause, camaraderie and fun.

“I’ve been fishing for a husband my whole life and I also fish for deals at TJ Maxx sometimes,” says Susie Stanovsek, with Team Naughti Tails. The mermaid-themed costumes and balloons on Speechless Sportfishing are typical of the event’s mood and festivities. “We love to do this, but we’re dedicating our efforts to family members and friends who have battled cancer.”

Joy Rainwater and Brooke Harris are competing together aboard Fintastic. This year marks the sixth year for Harris, while Rainwater is fishing for the second time. The two women both live in Currituck, North Carolina.

“It’s all about great friends, good times with an amazing captain and mate and for a good cause,” Rainwater explains.

“Our game plan tomorrow is to wake up, take some jello shots and catch all the fish,” Harris adds with a laugh.

Kim Hart will be fishing aboard Unplugged, her 55 Donnie Caison with Capt. Dan Rooks at the helm. Her husband David and her son will be working the cockpit for the family and friends team. The Harts have been fishing the Alice Kelly for six years now.

“This event is a good fundraiser and a fun time,” she says. “We’ve got some newbie members this year and others have been out with us. A few have some offshore experience but most haven’t caught a blue marlin. We’re just hoping for a nice day. If we catch a fish, that’s a bonus.”

It’s going to be an early start Sunday morning after this evening’s celebration. There will certainly be some quiet boat rides out to the grounds and plenty of aspirin consumed. But once the lines go in it’ll be 154 teams in solidarity, regardless of the final outcome. And Alice will be smiling down on the fleet in approval.