A MAJOR new fishing competition is set to take place in the waters off the Isle of Wight next year — the Sea Angling Classic — with up to 1,500 anglers expected to take part and with a potential to reach millions of fishing enthusiasts worldwide.

Run by Angling Spirit, the group behind the hugely successful international World Carp Classic, World Predator Classic and World Street Fishing competitions — followed by millions in more than 100 countries around the globe — the Sea Angling Classic will be a unique event to the UK.

WATCH: Highlights from the World Predator Classic in 2019

It will feature 400 boats on The Solent, with top anglers aiming to win the largest and most valuable prize table ever offered in sea fishing — featuring a top-of-the-range fishing boat worth more than £110,000.

The Sea Angling Classic — with the Isle of Wight at its heart — will be much more than simply a sea fishing competition.

WATCH: Highlights from the World Street Fishing competition in 2019

There will be an emphasis on conservation and the environment, with Island schoolchildren encouraged to help in daily beach clean-ups, together with a focus on the importance of The Solent’s flora and fauna, including its native seagrass.

Aside from the conservation and educational benefits, the event is predicted be a welcome boost to the Island’s economy.

WATCH: Highlights from the World Carp Classic in 2019

Island lifejacket manufacturers Spinlock and the Isle of Wight Distillery, which produces the award-winning Mermaid gin, are set to benefit from being sponsors of the event.

To promote next year's angling extravaganza, Angling Spirit will host a launch event in Chichester Harbour on July 23, with the reception provided by the distillery.

Isle of Wight County Press:

Spinlock representatives will be there to promote its lifejackets and other marine safety equipment it manufactures in Cowes.

As part of the launch event, there will be a scaled-down version of next year's competition, which will take place over July 24-25, with around 40 boats involved.

The invitational angling contest will take place in waters about ten miles off the Island — stretching from Bembridge, down towards St Catherine’s Point and Selsey.

Isle of Wight County Press:

Anglers will be challenged to catch the longest fish of five species — black bream, sea bass, smoothhound, tope and skate — and not by weight, like traditional angling events.

“The Isle of Wight will be the central hub in which all of this will be taking place,” said Ross Honey, of Angling Spirit and the mastermind behind the Sea Angling Classic.

“During lockdown, I realised we have one of the most prolific fishing areas in the country, right on our doorstep."

Isle of Wight County Press:

For Ross, with more than 20 years’ experience running international fishing events, he believes there is potential to put the Island and The Solent coastline firmly on the world stage as the competition develops.

“When we ran the World Carp Classic last year, we had just under five million clicks on the leaderboard. That came from over 275,000 unique IP addresses,” said Ross.

“When we start to evolve this and we run the main event next year, we’ll have between a thousand and 1,500 people participating. The numbers following it could be phenomenal.

Isle of Wight County Press: Ross Honey, the man behind the Sea Angling Classic.Ross Honey, the man behind the Sea Angling Classic.

“It’s an event which could well breathe life into the sport of angling and, at grassroots level, attract children to fishing.”

The launch will be televised by BT Sport and be the subject of a live broadcast on national radio station, Talk Sport.

It is planned to expand the competition to become national and international in 2023, with qualification events around the UK and a final held on The Solent, which is predicted to attract top anglers from as far afield as Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States.