Over 30 prizes & trophies awarded
San Juan, Puerto Rico. The statistics are impressive! A total of 185 anglers from 12 countries, fishing from 51 boats, released 84 blue marlin in Club Nautico de San Juan’s 58th Annual International Billfish Tournament (IBT), held September 4th – 9th 2011.
“The turn-out of anglers, boats and fish was incredible this year,” says Frankie MirandÃ©s, chairman of the 58th IBT.
Mayte won the Top Boat trophy with six blue marlin releases.
“We released two blue marlin the first day, one the second and three today,” says Puerto Rico’s Jose Cestero, owner and one of four anglers aboard the 60ft Hatteras. “The last 15-minutes of the tournament were tough. Then as soon as we knew we won, we started jumping up and down and turned up the music.”
Peje and Sea Born finished second and third, respectively, each with five blue marlin releases, Peje having reached their five first.
The Top Angler trophy went to Juan B. Soto Balbas who released four blue marlin.
“I’m very happy. I’ve fished this tournament for 20 years and never won,” says Puerto Rico’s Balbas, who fished on the 52ft Hatteras, Bimba. “Luck, knowing how to fight a marlin, to have patience and not lose your cool, is the secret to my success.”
Puerto Rico’s Hector Rodriguez Blazquez finished as the second best angler, while Scotland’s Trevor Somny ended third. Both men released three blue marlin, with Blazquez releasing his first.
Somny also won Best International Angler.
“We will be back next year,” says Somny, who fished with his future son-in-law, Malcolm MacDonald.
Australian anglers, Eric Visser and Tim Gillingham, each released two blue marlin and finished second and third, respectively, in the international angler standings.
Puerto Rico’s Stephanie Lebron, angling aboard the 54ft Bertram, Tati-Way, earned Best Female with the release of one blue marlin.
“I caught it in the morning of the first day of the tournament,” says Lebron, an experienced angler who won the top lady prize in the Cangrejos Yacht Club Billfish Tournament in 2009 and Scrub Island Tournament in the British Virgin Islands in 2010. “I only fish these three tournaments, but I fish often throughout the year. I really enjoy it.”
The IBT is a well-orchestrated fishing competition that boasts nightly parties, a spectacular boat parade, special Ladies Program, a Shoot-Out start past the famous El Morro Castle, honorary jet fly-over welcoming the fleet back to shore and a tournament finale Gala Awards Banquet.
New this year, the IBT served as the launch tournament for the International Game Fishing Association (IGFA) year-long Great Marlin Race. Angling teams sponsored ten pop-up archival satellite tags valued at $4000 and placed these in released Atlantic blue marlin during the tournament. The tags are designed to ‘pop-off’ the marlin four months after being placed, float to the surface, and provide researchers with a wealth of data contained in the tags and picked up via ARGOS satellites. The IBT-placed tag that surfaces furthest from where it was deployed will win the race, earning that angler a free entry into the 2012 IBT and recognition by IGFA. This is just one way the world’s longest continually-held billfish tournament is doing even more to promote billfish conservation.
IGFA Conservation Director, Jason Schratwieser, who co-directs the Great Marlin Race with Stanford University’s, Dr. Randy Kuchevar, says, “Seven tags were placed in marlin during the tournament and I have no doubt the avid anglers here in Puerto Rico will place the remaining three in the next week. This program is the perfect opportunity to marry angler passion and science.”
Club Nautico de San Juan received a special honor from The Billfish Foundation (TBF), explains Elliot Stark, science and policy specialist. “We came down to present the club with a plaque for TBF’s 25th Anniversary. The Club played an integral role in the founding of the foundation back in 1986.”
“Expect the tradition to continue next year,” invites MirandÃ©s, who hands over the reins to Miguel Donato, who will chair the 59th IBT.
The IBT is a qualifier for the prestigious Rolex/IGFA Offshore Championship that takes place each May.
Visit www.sanjuaninternational.com for full results
Report submitted by Carol M. Bareuther.