Sandestin officials preparing for 2019 Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic

MIRAMAR BEACH, FL (WJHG/WECP) We're now just a week away from the biggest annual fishing tournament in our area, the Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic at Sandestin.

The Baytowne Marina getting some upgrades in advance of the 2019 Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic.

That event takes place at the Baytowne Marina, which is crowded enough on a regular basis in the summer, but over the next few days things will really get hopping there.

That marina in fact already crowded with it's normal business, and a few of the tournament yachts are there already. Though most will be coming in over the next several days, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday will be very active in terms of boats arriving.

There is some work being done around the Marina Bar and Grill and the weigh-in area. That part of a rather large renovation project at the marina over the last several weeks.

"We got approval to build ten additional slips that accomodate up to a hundred foot boat." says Jason Draughn, Sandestin's Director of Special Events. "Also we're getting re-decking and a new fuel system here at the Baytowne Marina."

"We're very excited, we've got a lot going on at the Marina, a lot of expansion going on." Adds ECBC Tournament Director Adam Alonso "A lot of projects going on and we're really excited to wrap these up before our event next week. As you know the boats are getting bigger, each and every year. Last year we had about 25 boat owners that sold and bought brand new bigger boats. So the requirements for larger vessels, more power, more fuel, everything. So we've got to keep expanding our marina to keep up with that as well."

This event began in 2003 with 45 teams and a purse of $329,000. Last year 91 teams fished for more than two million dollars! Adam's hoping to "up" those numbers this June!

"We're still getting calls daily. We're expecting to have a fleet of over a hundred boats fish this year, which will be a great milestone for us. Last year we had 91, our goal has always been a hundred. And I think this is the year that we will definitely make it happen."

And the additions made to the marina will make things a bit more comfortable for all the teams and their boats!

"Depending on the size of the boats in the tournament, we can dock roughly 75 to 85 boats here at the marina." Alfonso says. "We're currently at 87. We can still fit a few extra boats at the marina here. But we don't limit our tournament. You can dock at any marina, you just have to leave through the Destin Pass whenever we do our shotgun start."

And that will take place at noon next Thursday. This is what that looked like last June.

Last week bad weather in the Gulf adversely affected the Biloxi Tournament, right now the forecast for fishing next week is much better!