Mother Nature and King Neptune conspired to make conditions anything but pleasant for the fifty-four sports fishermen competing in Leg 3 of the Bahamas Billfish Championship (BBC), the Central Abaco Championship, and fished May 21 to 25 out of Treasure Cay Resort & Marina. But, what’s heavy seas and twenty-five knot winds when the billfish bite is on? The field of skilled anglers caught 93 qualified billfish during the four-day tournament, including seven by Barry Weshnak’s Miss Annie, the team from Allenwood, New Jersey, that won First Place.
Miss Annie, captained by Matt Rabenstine, was also the Top Release Team for the week.
Second Place went to Oddis Wren and team Heads Up from Oviedo, Florida. Heads Up achieved their 2,700-point total catching and releasing four blue marlin, a white marlin, and a sailfish.
Close behind Heads Up in Third Place with 2,500 points was Tom Russell’s Cerveza from Reston, Virginia. Cerveza caught and released four blue marlin and a sailfish.
By week’s end, the weary anglers caught 61 blue marlin, 25 white marlin, 6 sailfish and one spearfish. All catches are validated using time and date stamped digital images. Affidavits signed by all participants fishing on each team further confirm that fish are released in accordance with IGFA and Bahamas Billfish Championship rules.
Bertram Yachts was the principal sponsor for the Central Abaco Championship. In addition to presenting trophies to the winners, Bertram hosted numerous social functions during the week including the Bertram Bash Beach Party at Treasure Cay’s Coco Beach Bar.
Now in its thirty-fourth year, the BBC and its five tournaments are governed by a uniform set of rules. Anglers can fish any or all of the tournaments with cumulative points determining the overall Bahamas Billfish Champions. Title Sponsor, Rolex will award this year’s Rolex Grand Prize to the Series’ overall winner at the conclusion of the Series in June. The Prize is an expense paid black marlin fishing trip to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.
In 2000, the Bahamas Billfish Championship established an endowed Scholarship Fund to enable Bahamian students the opportunity to pursue a degree in marine biology. The BBC Scholarship Fund is supported by voluntary financial contributions from anglers, BBC sponsors, and the Bahamian business community. This year marks the start of the BBC’s second endowed scholarship fund for Bahamian students wanting to further their education in the marine manufacturing and service industries.