Classic III

CLARK HILL, S.C. — Rayo Breckenridge of Paragould, Ark., outfished the field of 26 fishermen to earn a $15,000 paycheck.

 Breckenridge boated 27 bass that weighed 52 pounds, 8 ounces to edge Bill Dance, who caught his 10-bass limit every day and amassed a total weight of 48-14.

 Breckenridge, a cotton farmer, took an 11-pound lead into the final day's competition, and in the last eight hours of fishing, caught seven bass that weighed 12-7.

 He needed most of them to help stave off a late charge by Dance, who weighed in 19 pounds the final day.

 Of note

 •  Classic champion Rayo Breckenridge had a close call on the final day when his outboard engine wouldn't start. Fortunately, fellow competitor Roland Martin was nearby and gave him a ride to the weigh-in.

 •  1973 was the only year that Texas did not send a qualifier to the Classic.

 •  1973 was the first year the BASS Federation sent an angler to the Classic. It was Wendell Mann of Snow Camp, N.C. He finished last.

 •  Before the Classic, BASS founder Ray Scott held a greased pig contest that was won by famed outdoor writer Homer Circle and BASS pro Ricky Green.

 •  Vernon Fowlkes, a product manufacturer attending the Classic, died when the boat he was riding in had a steering malfunction and he was thrown into the water.

 Top 6 finishers

 1. Rayo Breckenridge Paragould, Ark. 52-08

 2. Bill Dance Memphis, Tenn. 48-14

 3. Don Norton Clinton, Miss. 39-05

 4. Russell Cook Hollister, Mo. 39-00

 5. Tom Mann Eufaula, Ala. 37-01

 6. Wallace Lea Powersite, Mo. 35-10