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War Heroes on Water Concludes 4th Annual Sportfishing Tournament

The fourth annual WOHW sportfishing tournament just leveled up this nonprofit. The fleet has returned, and the results are in.

NEWPORT BEACH- The 2021 War Heroes on Water (WHOW) sportfishing tournament took place Oct. 1-5 along the shores of Southern California to Catalina Island, to raise money for veterans wounded in combat and the non-profit Freedom Alliance.

On Oct. 2, 38 of the West Coast’s finest sportfishing vessels lined up to create over a mile long parade just outside of Newport Beach to commence the fourth annual tournament and prepare for 48 hours out on the water. The tournament concluded on Oct. 4 in Avalon for the weigh-in, closing ceremony and awards.

2021 hosted the most vessels so far; only 12 vessels participated in 2020, 18 in 2019, and 12 in 2018.

The veterans enjoyed a festive send-off with hundreds of guests celebrating their departure and the start of the tournament action.

Ryan Schramm participated in the WHOW tournament for the first time this year; he owns and captains his super-rigged 40 Cabo Flybridge, Hot Rail. Schramm docks his boat in the Dana Point Harbor, next to WHOW tournament director Rod Halperin’s boat, which is how he landed his invite to the tournament.

“When he [Halperin] asked me to participate earlier this year, I didn’t even have to think twice,” said Schramm. “I had heard of and seen some of the marketing for the tournament in the past, and I knew right when he asked me that I was in.”

Schramm’s yacht hosted six crew members, including two veterans, his father, two friends, and himself. Schramm, his father, and his friends oversaw hosting, guiding, and feeding the veterans throughout the 48-hour experience.

“All the effort goes into showing them [the veterans] what an awesome trip is like and what we get to experience on a continual basis,” said Schramm. “The goal is to show them the best trip possible. It’s all about them, making sure they reel in every fish and that they are well fed.”

The veterans arrive from all over the nation and enter this tournament without knowing entirely what West Coast fishing entails.

The tournament is not limited to a specific locality, and the yachts are allowed to venture to other cities. Schramm and his crew caught eight bluefins, one yellowtail, and a good mix of different smaller fish from San Clemente to Catalina.

“I was super impressed by the tournament as a whole, from the opening and closing ceremony to the veterans,” said Schramm. “The guys that we had on our boat felt like they could have been my friends for life. It was an unforgettable experience that I will want to participate in for as long as I am invited.”

Twelve of the WHOW fleet stood by to bring their biggest catches to the Avalon Green Pleasure Pier. The participants enjoyed a unique opportunity to live out the aspiration of many a West Coast fisherman to see their fish weighed and photographed at the iconic fishing landmark.

For more than three hours, tourists, Avalon residents, and the WHOW yacht crews and veterans observed and celebrated as each yacht came into the pier, collecting a haul of 21 of the tournament’s biggest bluefin tunas to be weighed and documented.

But the tournament had already broken records before the launch of the first yacht was set off, with the number of participating veterans, number of sportfishing yachts, number of sponsors, number of donors, and dollars raised to support the recovery process and the needs of combat-wounded veterans and their families.

Collectively, these achievements launched the tournament to its new status as the largest nonprofit sportfishing tournament in the U.S.

Anthony Hsieh, originally from Taiwan, founded WHOW in 2018 after he came up with the idea while he was out at sea in Cabo San Lucas on a fishing trip with seven veterans who told Hsieh how healing it was for them to be on the water.

“I am incredibly taken back by what I am sensing and feeling,” said Hsieh at the opening ceremony. “The 100 vets that are here, thank you. But you, 100 of you, are going to be in good hands for the next 48 hours, with 38 generous, patriotic Americans…if I could just hear it for the vets, man!”

WHOW raised a record-breaking $1.35 million for the veterans wounded in combat and is on track to become one of the largest on-water therapeutic programs in the nation. In addition, it is currently the world’s largest nonprofit fishing tournament.

The 2021 fleet, as well as the live weigh-in and other information on the tournament, can be found at

Live updates of the tournament are available on YouTube as well at

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