Black Gold, an American Custom Yachts 65 owned by Harry Sargeant of Boca Raton, Florida, walked off with the honors as Team Black Gold released five blue marlin for 2,500 points over the course of the three days of the tournament, hosted by the Bitter End Yacht Club.
Close behind, with four blue marlin released and 2,000 points, was Edward Brush’s 50 foot Viking Quiet Storm from Del Ray Beach, Florida. Also with 2,000 points was Pate Clement’s 61 foot Viking Liquid Gold, from Gulfport, Florida—with all four blue marlin caught by Clement’s wife, Pat. The tie for second was broken in Quiet Storm’s favor, as she released her fourth fish prior to Liquid Gold’s catching theirs.
The winning team received a Rolex timepiece, a specially etched Waterford crystal trophy, 4 bottles of Jose Cuervo Reserva, Maui Jim sunglasses and an invitation to the World Billfish Series Championships, presented by Sam White of the WBS. In addition, the team was invited to fish the San Juan Invitational later in the month by Tournament Director Luis Infanzon of San Juan.
The anglers enjoyed three days of excellent fishing, with 33 blue marlin officially released. Prior to the awards, Sebastiano Paiewonsky-Cassinelli of A.H. Riise and Tournament Director Lawrence Wheatley presented Clyde Lettsome, Permanent Secretary of the British Virgin Islands, with a proceeds check for $50,000 to the Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands.
Accepting the check on behalf of the BVI government, Lettsome commented, "I knew the plans were for the proceeds of the tournament to go to local charities, I just never expected the amount to be so much. We will put it to good use."
"We are thrilled at the turnout of 20 excellent angling teams in our first year" said Paiewonsky-Cassinelli. “The entire staff of the Bitter End Yacht Club made everyone—sponsors, anglers and their guests—feel right at home. We’re pleased the fishing was so good and North Sound provided a beautiful setting. It was also our great pleasure to present the check to the BVI government. We look forward to coming back to the Bitter End next year, as do our anglers."
The A.H. Riise BVI Billfish Tournament is a qualifier for the IGFA Offshore Championships and a qualifying event for the World Billfish Series. Sponsors are A.H. Riise, the BVI Department of Tourism, Mainsail Management Group, Jack Daniels, Southern Comfort, Finlandia, Sonoma Cutrer, Five Rivers Vineyards, Johnnie Walker, Tanqueray, Jose Cuervo, The Crystal Shoppe, Waterford Crystal, Southern Boating magazine, Hatteras Yachts, Antilles Yacht Sales, Gregory Poole Marine Power, Mt. Gay rum, Carib beer, Clearpoint, Raffles Tortola, First Bank, Murray Products, Mainsail Resort and Spa BVI, Island Global Yachting, and the BVI Chamber of Commerce and Hotel Association.
The dates for next year’s event at Bitter End will be July 19-July 23, 2008.
For full results and photographs: www.bvibillfishtournament.com.
Event report and photographs courtesy of the A.H. Riise BVI Billfish Tournament.