If the success of the first annual Puerto Del Rey Billfish Tournament on November 16th is any indication, then sports fishermen and sailors alike will soon find more good reasons to visit this 1,000-slip marina in Fajardo, Puerto Rico. This angling contest is the first in what will be an annual series of fun-filled tournaments and regattas that the marina’s new management is initiating to draw local and visiting yachts.
“We were pleasantly surprised to have 52 boats participate, more than Club Nautico de San Juan’s International Billfish Tournament in September,” says Jeremy Griffiths, chairman and owner of Puerto Del Rey. “One thing we saw missing when we bought the marina was things to do for our members. This is a very social marina, families and friends congregate here, but not always on the sea. Our goal is to create an all-around experience and events like fishing are important to us in terms of the part they play in marina life.”
The fish certainly cooperated. Anglers and crews aboard the 52 boats collectively released 44 billfish (18 blue marlin, 13 white marlin and 13 sailfish) and boated 1148lb of gamefish such as mahi-mahi, tuna and wahoo. The fishing grounds off the east coast of Puerto Rico stretched north from the Loiza River to Culebrita and south between Tuna Point on Culebrita and up to 30 miles offshore.
The big winner was Batichica, a 43ft Cabo owned by Gerald Torres. Torres and his San Juan-based team took home five of the nearly two dozen prizes awarded in this tournament. Eleven-year-old junior anglers, Paula Roman and Geralee Torres, earned runner up and winner in the Youth Small Fry categories with the release of a sailfish and blue marlin, respectively. This is the first time the girls had ever caught these species. Batichica won Best Visiting Inboard Boat and Best Inboard Boat for two blue marlin, one white marlin and one sailfish release. Batichica’s Carlos Rosario won Best Captain for his spectacular fish-finding efforts.
“It’s was a great weekend. We had a blast,” says Torres. “We caught fish both days and the girls caught their first billfish, even Paula who didn’t catch anything all weekend until she finally released her sailfish three minutes before lines out. You should have seen the look on her face. I’d have to say it was one of the best fishing tournaments in Puerto Rico this year. We can’t wait to fish it again next year.”
Glaline Cruz, who fished aboard Reinaldo Dominguez’ boat, Beach Bum, also won big. Cruz released a Grand Slam (blue marlin, white marlin and sailfish) to earn the Best Overall Angler award plus the perpetual Ralph G. Christiansen, Jr. Trophy. Christiansen, who was an avid angler, released over 1000 blue marlin in his lifetime. Christiansen’s brother Richard is now managing director at Puerto Del Rey.
“Our goal is to become the new fishing destination on the east coast of Puerto Rico,” says Christiansen. “In addition, we’ll be hosting a sailing regatta in March that we plan to make an annual event. The east coast here is a perfect place for sailboat racing. We’ll also be starting a sailing school here at Puerto Del Rey next summer.”
The Puerto Del Rey Sailing Challenge will be held March 20th – 22nd 2015. Classes will include everything from Optimist, Sunfish, Lasers and Hobie Cats to larger keel-boats. For more information, call: (787) 860-1000, Email: [email protected] or visit puertodelrey.com
Carol M. Bareuther, RD, is a St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands based marine writer and registered dietitian.