After several years of growth toward a larger, more international fishing tournament, this year’s St-Barth Open was a smaller, essentially local event taking place on just one day, July 14, as part of the island’s Bastille Day celebrations. In past years, the event spanned two or three days, with boats coming from all around the Caribbean and Florida. Organized by Christian Aubebert, of Ocean Must, the tournament was called “Special Edition 2004” and it took on an almost familial atmosphere.
The event began with an open start with 19 boats setting out toward Marlin Boulevard early in the morning. But marlin were not on the menu this year, and the island record of 669 pounds, set back in 2000, is still standing. All of the competing boats were back at the dock in front of Ocean Must by 5:00pm, with a small crowd gathered to see the catch of the day. While they might have been disappointed not to see any blue marlin, there were enough smaller fish to make the day worthwhile.
The largest fish brought in included a 29-pound wahoo, caught by the crew of “Substitute,” and a 35-pound tuna caught by the crew aboard a boat called “Wahoo.” The winner of the day was a 37-pound daurade caught by Gilles Questel and his crew of four young men from Saint Barth aboard “Lady Nan” (see photo). All of the winners received a bottle of Moet and Chandon champagne, provided by Segeco, a local beverage distributor that sponsors the event every year. Island restaurants, such as the Wall House, the Rivage, and BBQ also offered meals to the winners.
“The idea this year was to have a tournament that was more friendly in spirit,” says Audebert. We’ll have to wait and see what happens next year. Maybe someone will reel in a record-breaking marlin and sail off in the small Contender fishing boat offered
as a prize by Joe Neber. Or maybe not…