Sorry to hear of the problem with the contest. I've never been to a competition but we still have our place up in Georgia (just east of Atlanta) and we'll be going back for a couple of weeks during the first part of October. There's going to be a KCBS sponsored competition in Covington, Ga. on the 13th and 14th. I'm planning to go visit around during the contest to see how things go. It looks like it would be a lot of fun. And in my current retirement mode, I'm tempted to try to put a team together. I know there's a learning curve but in time, I might become competitive. And if not, a lot of fun could be had...... so long as we don't run into a situation like you found. Anyway, time will tell.
The shark catch looked like a lot of fun. We had a big tournament here in Destin this past weekend. I think there was an 800+ lb. Mako that took the prize. I was busy and couldn't fish the tournament and didn't make it down for the weigh in but I understand there were a lot of protesters there from the animal rights group...... those creeps are just strange. Anyway, my biggest problem when I'm out Red Snapper or Grouper fishing are Dolphins ..... the bottle nosed type (Flipper). I have a huge respect for the Dolphins but they can also be a real menace. For example, there is a size limit on Red Snapper of 16". Anything less must be thrown back. Same with Grouper...... anything less that 22" must be thrown back. And you'd be surprised at how many 15" Snappers and 21" Groupers we catch. Now the problem...... the Dolphin, being as smart as they are, circle the boat while we're out there. You can actually watch the Snapper or Grouper returned to the water be taken by the Dolphin. I really hate to throw one back for that reason. And those Dolphin are really smart! They don't bother the bait going down or the undersized catch coming up. But just return one to the water and the Dolpin move in for the snack.
Anyway, this is a smoking forum and I digress. I absoluetly love the ocean. I spend as much time as I can out there (which is considerable) and have a world of respect for the ocean and the creatures it contains. There are probably few people who enjoy the water the way I do ...... and I suspect you do. Keep a tight line........