When the official Classic pre-practice is over, you need a butterfly net to keep your stomach in your shirt. If you didn't, you would need to just hang it up. The anticipation is continuing to build. From Rick Clunn (although he may not readily admit it) to an Open rookie, everyone feels it. After all the time preparing, now it is time for the big show.
You check into the official Classic hotel for a week full of meetings, dinners, autographs, and, of course, the tournament. In the lobby, you know this is different than a regular event. BASS is picking up the bill, and they do it right. The hotel is always much nicer than any other tournament hotel that I am willing to pay for during the year. As you check in, you look over and see KVD and Iaconelli. You run to the bathroom and see Skeet. You park your truck in the parking deck and walk back to the hotel with Boyd Duckett. Sure, these guys are my friends, but it can be intimidating if you don't know them well.Once you move all of your clothes into your room for the week, it does not seem like a regular tournament again. Where is Ish? I always room with Ish, but not this week. Everyone gets their own room. My wife and children get to join me during the week. And there are more reminders that this is not a normal event. Where is all my fishing stuff? It is not practical to drag any fishing items up 13 floors, through an elevator, and into a plush room. There used to be rules against extra tackle in your room, but not anymore.
Monday is usually this manic move-in day. It is not too bad since all you have to do is get situated. However your boat and tackle are not near your hotel room. Now you sometimes have to take a shuttle to get from your hotel to the boat yard. BASS is kind enough to keep all the boats under tight security, 24 hours a day. Another reminder that there is more riding on this week continues. As you might imagine, I go to the boat yard every chance I get just to make sure everything is ready to go. This is more to feed your butterflies
Tuesday is the registration and meetings. It is fairly laid back except you have to sit in a room with 50 of the world's best anglers. Most appear in good spirits. Some seem nervous. And then there is Swindle. He always makes some comments that break the ice for everyone. Again, if you think about how shiny these other guys' trophy rooms must be, you will be eaten alive by those crazy butterflies in your stomach.
Tuesday night is early bed time if possible. Wednesday is the last time to practice before the big event. You have everything in order. Rods are ready. Boat is full of gas. Your Optimas are charged. Your clothes are laid out. All three alarms are set so you don't oversleep. The tossing and turning in bed should be in full effect while you try to sleep. You think about the butterflies costing you precious sleep time, but I would not trade that feeling for the world.