Brooks Smith, a newcomer to the Bermuda Triangle Series (BTS) learned a lot about points when he fished the series opener, the Bahamas Open, June 12 to 16 in Boat Harbour, Abaco. The release of a blue marlin and white marlin netted Smith’s Team Uno Mas third place, while the identical catch earned BTS veteran, Walter Shikany, of Team Never Enough, the win. This seeming scoreboard error wasn’t due to time, but pounds.
“We like anglers to fish light tackle in all our tournaments. It takes more skill and is easier on the fish,” says organizer, Jimmy Loveland. “That means 50-pound test, like Walter used, not 130-pound test as Brooks did.”
Here’s the calculation: Blue marlin are worth 200 points, while marlin 100 points. Multiply the points associated with the species released by 100 and divide by line test. The result? Blue marlin caught on 50 earn 400 points, while the same fish released on 130 nets only 154 points.
Allen Bir, of Team Perfect Parts, another BTS newcomer, finished second, with the release of a single blue marlin. Bir simultaneously fished the BTS, and the Abaco Billfish Challenge, a new tournament organized this year by Amy White and Dave Withers (see sidebar).
For the past three years, the BTS’s Bahamas Open was fished out of Harbour Island. Loveland says, “We dearly love our friends in Harbour Island, but we had to move the tournament to where there were more fishing opportunities. This year, the move allowed us to fish inside the dates of the Abaco Billfish Challenge, a new total release tournament… that gave us a lot of exposure and an opportunity to let a whole other group of anglers know about our ‘Boy Scout’ Tournament (USVI Open/Atlantic Blue Marlin Tournament), the Bermuda Triangle Series, and this year’s kick-off Spanish Main Series (SMS).”
Crowd-drawing highlights of the Abaco Billfish Challenge were two Orange County Choppers, souped-up motorcycles, just like those pictured on the Discovery Channel. Tournament organizers had one painted like a dolphin and other like a blue marlin. The cycles were revved all week and had anglers entranced by the time it came to raffle one off. Bidding started at $50,000 and Bir skyrocketed the volley of offers up to $300,000. After shelling this amount out, a generous Bir donated an additional $100,000 to the Boy Scouts.
“That money will be earmarked toward getting our Virgin Islands Marine Trade School off the ground,” says Loveland. The school’s objective is to expose young people to and provide them the skills to work in the multifaceted marine trades.
Seven teams are fishing this fourth annual Bermuda Triangle Series: Team Never Enough, Team Perfect Parts, Team Uno Mas, Luis Bacardi’s Team Rum Bum, Alexis Jacob’s Team Reel Obsession, David Clapp’s Team Affinity, and Graham Talbot’s Team Online.
The second leg, the Bermuda Open, took place July 7 to 9 out of Hamilton. The BTS concludes with the USVI Open, held during the ‘Boy Scout’ Tournament, August 25 to 29.
Meanwhile, Luis Bacardi, of Team Rum Bum, holds the distinction of being an inaugural participant in both the BTS and now the Spanish Main Series. After Abaco, Bacardi’s crew took his new Bertram 58, a rocket ship that cruises at 37 knots, to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic for the second leg of the Spanish Main Series. Bacardi meanwhile flew to Bermuda, chartered a boat for the BTS Bermuda Open, then flew on to Punta Cana.
Team Affinity leads the Spanish Main Series, having won the Venezuela Open in March in La Guaira. The Series continues with this month’s San Juan Open, August 16 to 22; the USVI Open, August 25 to 29; and the Boqueron Open, September 28 to 30.
Inaugural Abaco Billfish Challenge Draws 37 Boats
Firsts are wonderful. Especially when it means a doubly-good chance to fish. The Bermuda Triangle Series, for the first time, fished its kick-off Bahamas leg in Boat Harbour, and it did so within the inaugural Abaco Billfish Challenge (ABC), won by Mark Selwartz on the Viking 65 Masque in a three-way tie on points.
Fished June 12 to 16, in the same neck of the woods and time of year as the 34-year-old five-tournament Bahamas Billfish Championships, the ABC embodied the theme, ‘if you can’t be first, be different’. This was a total catch-and-release event for billfish that included a separate division for wahoo, dolphin, and tuna and let anglers choose their own lay day. The new event offered additional fun, such as a junior hand line tournament, fashion show, Texas-style BarBQ, Crew Olympics, and the chopper raffle. The effort and uniqueness paid off in garnering a 37-boat registration.
ABC tournament organizer, Amy White, describes the action: “The weather did not cooperate on the first day. There were some nasty thunderstorms. Nonetheless, the fleet released five marlin, two sailfish, and some nice-sized dolphin. Slow conditions continued into the second day, only to really ramp up by the third when the fleet released 19 billfish total.”
Ultimately, Selwartz’ Masque; Dugan McLaughlin’s Hatteras 54, Juel Marie; and Jeff Futon’s Custom 54, Dixie Devil, all ended the fourth and final day with 1402 points. Yet Masque emerged first based on time—and drove away with one of the Choppers as prize.
Proceeds from the ABC benefit The Billfish Foundation, Bermuda Triangle Series & Boy Scouts of America, and Every Child Counts. Next year’s tournament dates are June 10 to 14, 2008, to be held again out of the Abaco Beach Resort and Boat Harbour Marina. .