History of the Big Red Classic

The Big Red Classic has had its roots in Holland Michigan for 15 years. The first tournament was held in 1991 and was named the Big Dutchmen Classic. This first year, there were no corporate sponsors and the tournament had only a few donors. The logo and the first prize trophy was a pair of wooden shoes. The next year corporate sponsors took notice of the event, and the 1992 tournament was sponsored by SeaRay. The tournament was renamed to the SeaRay Salmon Slam, and SeaRay would sponsor the event for the next six years. In 1999 the sponsorship changed to Pursuit who remained as the anchor sponsor through the 2001 tournament season. The past five years the tournament has been sponsored by Big Jon, West Michigan Spline and Ridgeview Stamping in conjunction with the Holland Steelheaders.

Jim Swanezy started the first tournament held in 1991. Swanezy, an avid big lake fisherman, felt his home port of Holland, needed to display its fishing ability. Only nineteen boats participated in the first tournament, with the top winner taking home $2000 in prize money with a total of $10,000 being paid out to all winning participants. There was only one division of participants at the first tournament. The tournament continued to grow in size through 2004 and 105 boats participated in the contest awarding over $35,000 in cash and prizes in a Pro/Am format.

The tournament has always been hosted at the Yacht Basin Marina on the north side of Lake Macatawa. The first day's catch is traditionally donated to the Resthaven Fish Boil; a Holland retirement home. As much as 8,000 lbs of salmon are donated each year.

All of this has led up to today's current tournament. After the 2006 tournament, Jim Swanezy brought together an entirely new team of people to once again raise the bar on the quality of the Holland tournament. The new committee decided to bring a new identity and excitement to the 2007 event. The 2007 tournament has a new name; The Big Red Classic Fishing Tournament. In addition to the new name, there is a new logo, new corporate sponsors, a Captains / Sponsor chicken dinner on Friday night, significantly higher prize money, etc. In addition to these changes, The BRC is pleased to announce that the tournament is now a 501-C3 non profit corporation whose goal is to provide a significant contribution to the Boys and Girls Club of Western Michigan as a direct result of hosting this tournament. Not only will everyone have the opportunity to enjoy great fishing and competition, now we will also be giving back to the community.

The new tournament will surely live up to the quality and success of the historic tournaments of years past. Come out and join us for a weekend of fishing, fun and excitement.


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