The 44 team-fleet competing in the 2017 Bermuda Billfish Blast had three days of great fishing, releasing 51 blue marlin.
HAMILTON, Bermuda (July 10, 2017)—The 44 team-fleet competing in the 2017 Bermuda Billfish Blast had three days of great fishing, releasing 51 blue marlin—many in the 400- to 600-pound class—36 white marlin and two spearfish, for a record $370,000 purse plus trophies and prizes.
Coming off a second-place finish in last year’s Billfish Blast thanks to a spearfish release on the final day, team Reel Lax started out slowly with only one spearfish released during the first day of this year’s tournament.
But on day two, Captain James Barnes found the honey hole with the release of a white marlin for angler Danny Fox and a blue marlin for owner Lester Petracca by mid-day. The bite continued for team Reel Lax with Petracca releasing his second blue at 12:40 p.m. and third at 1:30 p.m. Fox then released a blue at 2:40 p.m. to finish the epic day, giving team Reel Lax three blues and two whites to win the daily release jackpot and launching them into a commanding lead with 2,100 points heading into the final day.
The bite went cold on the final day as team Reel Lax watched their lead dwindle with six teams only one catch away from the lead. Just like last year, it was the spearfish that made the difference in the end, helping the team to edge out second place by 100 points and earn the First Place Team honors and Overall Billfish Release Points option jackpots for a record-winning purse of $170,400.
Team Reel Lax (Captain James Barnes, owner Lester Petracca, mates Michael Mason and Simon Carosi, and anglers Chris Petracca, Danny Fox and Hamish Burns) also took home King Sailfish Mounts trophies, Steve Goione artwork, a Yeti cooler, Bacardi spirits, VanMark Jewelry custom silver pendants and an invitation to the 2018 Offshore World Championship.
First-time visiting captain Nick Garnsey with the Esposito family owners aboard Kanaloa received a warm welcome from the Bermuda blue marlin. Angler Thomas Esposito released the team’s first blue at 9:01 a.m. on day one, followed by a nice hook-up by angler Mike Esposito at 10:20 a.m. After a long hour-and-a-half battle, the team felt the fish would be well over the 500-pound minimum and prepared to take the fish. The fish came off the leader before getting a gaff shot, but fortunately for Kanaloa they completed the video requirements and the fish swam off to fight another day, earning the day one release jackpot.
On day two, it was John Esposito’s turn in the chair, releasing the team’s third blue of the competition at 11:04 a.m. after a tough 52-minute fight. Heading into the final day of fishing, Kanaloa was 600 points behind the leader and angler Thomas Esposito released their fourth blue at 8:52 a.m. to bring them to 2,000 points, where they would finish the tournament.
Team Kanaloa (Captain Nick Garnsey, mates Justin Mackay and Chris Flattery, and the Esposito family—Michael, Thomas, Will, John and John Junior) earned Second Place Team, Day One Release Jackpot and Second Place Overall Release Jackpot awards for a total of $115,320 plus trophies and prizes.
Team Fa-La-Me with owners Frank & Mary Ellen Rodriguez, Captain Rob Moore and mates Taylor and Tyler Beckford are certainly no strangers to the stage. This team has won the Bahamas Billfish Championship, Bermuda Triple Crown Billfish Championship and Offshore World Championship along with countless other events on the tournament trail.
Starting the tournament off, Frank Rodrigues released a white marlin at 9 a.m., followed by a blue release by West Rivers at 9:31 a.m. On the second morning, Fa-La-Me continued to add points as Taylor Beckford bested a white and a blue marlin before noon. West Rivers was next, releasing a white at 2:49 p.m., bringing the team to 1,600 points heading into the final day. In true Fa-La-Me fashion the team made a charge on day three, adding two white releases by Tyler Beckford to earn a spot on the stage as Third Place Team and Third Place Overall Release Points to win $48,400. Fa-La-Me owner Frank Rodriguez also graciously sponsored an IGFA satellite tag and deployed it on one of their blue marlin releases.
Day three’s daily release jackpot was awarded to Sanctuary and Captain Arthur Jones, with his son Mathew Jones pulling the mate duties. Their charter guests included a group of anglers from Vanuatu and Australia fishing for their first time in Bermuda. David Keogh released a blue at 11:42 a.m., followed by a second blue by Mitchell Clement at 12:44 p.m. Finishing up the day for Sanctuary was angler Megan Keogh with a release of a white at 2:04 p.m., giving Sanctuary 1,200 points to earn $36,000.
The Top Junior Angler prize went to Jacob Estis on Triple Play, who caught a blue and a white marlin to earn 700 points. Top Lady Angler Laura Russell also scored 700 points from a blue and a white on No Vacancy. Reel Addiction’s Parke Berolzheimer won the Top Overall Angler award, scoring 1,500 points from three blue marlin releases.
The Bermuda Billfish Blast tournament, presented by the Bermuda Tourism Authority, culminated in a beautiful awards banquet dinner in the Harbourview Ballroom at the Fairmont Hamilton Princess Hotel. All winners received King Sailfish Mounts trophies and prizes.
The Bermuda Billfish Blast is sponsored by CAT Engines, Garmin Electronics, Yeti, Marine Artist Steve Goione, Ironshore Insurance, Bacardi Spirits, Waterfront Properties, Lucas Oil, VanMark Jewelry, Island Construction, Island Glass, Ocean Blue Graphics and Soundview Millworks.