First time proved a charm for the Puerto Rico, Venezuela and Dominican Republic-based anglers and crew aboard the FNS 63, Bandolera, who collectively caught 10 blue marlin to win Best Boat in the 34th Annual USVI Open/Atlantic Blue Marlin Tournament, held August 6 to 10, out of St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands.
“We were one down going into the last day and all we could think about was we needed to have a good morning,” said Luis Fernandez, Jr., one of Bandolera’s four anglers.
Going into the last day one release behind last year’s Top Boat—Hans Kraaz’s Bayliss 58, Vintage—Bandolera’s team needed one release to tie and one release to beat Vintage on time—and they did.
“We hooked our first fish at 9:10 a.m. and the second one at 9:51 p.m. and released them both,” said Fernandez, who serendipitously celebrated his 29th birthday the day before.
The rest of the day was a real nail biter for the Bandolera crew, but Vintage’s anglers only caught one blue marlin during this last day. This was enough for Vintage to tie Bandolera on count, but not enough to jump ahead on time. Vintage finished the tournament as Second Top Boat with 10 releases.
“We didn’t have luck with us today,” said angler Chester Chamber, who earned the title of Top Angler last year.
Cool Runnings , with 8 releases, rounded out the Third Top Boat.
Meanwhile, Puerto Rico’s Luis Infanzon, aboard the October 2005-launched Spencer 60, Mojito, earned Top Angler with a total of 5 releases.
“The third day I released a 600-pound-plus marlin. It was a good fish, exciting, what we came here for,” Infanzon said.
Luis Nevares, aboard Sharky’s Revenge, and Mike McCarthy, fishing from Black Gold, finished as Second and Third Top Anglers with four marlin releases, respectively.
Kerri Burrus, better known as the Billfish Girl, won Top Lady Angler with the release of two marlin. Burrus was fishing aboard Capt. Rob Olive’s The Producer. Olive won the Race from the Edge, a speed boat race from the North Drop to Red Hook, which was held on the tournament’s last day.
One hundred and ten anglers aboard 37 boats released a total of 144 blue marlin during the four-day tournament. No blue marlin have been boated and killed in the last 21 years.
The USVI Open/Atlantic Blue Marlin Tournament benefits the U.S. Virgin Islands chapter of the Boy Scouts of America.
191 Total Hook-Ups, 144 Total Releases
1. Bandolera (10 releases)
2. Vintage (10 releases)
3. Cool Runnings (8 releases)
1. Luis Infanzon, Mojito (5 releases)
2. Luis Nevares, Sharkey’s Revenge (4 releases)
3. Mike McCarthy, Black Gold (4 releases)
1. Nestor Pena, Bandolera (10 releases)
2. Hans Kraaz, Vintage (10 releases)
3. Dave Withers, Cool Runnings (8 releases)
Top Lady Angler
1. Kerri Burrus, The Producer (2 releases)