Photo Courtesy Out Your Front Door
Hamilton, Bermuda — The grand champion of the 2023 Bermuda Triple Crown Billfish Championship is the highly experienced team fishing aboard Builder’s Choice, composed of Capt. Brent Gaskill, angler-owner Harris Huddle, Meredith Huddle, Eli Blake, Nathan Newlin, David Herbst, Robert Cowan and Rick Scheper. Fishing aboard their 64-foot Jarrett Bay, the team released 16 blue marlin and five white marlin for a total of 8,500 points during the three-tournament series. The team was awarded champion’s trophies, VanMark Jewelry championship rings, a lavish prize package, the first-place check for $49,500, and an invitation to the Costa Offshore World Championship. Builder’s Choice collected a total of $149,500 in cash awards throughout the tournament season.
Forty-two teams fished the 2023 Bermuda Triple Crown series, which offered a series cash purse of $360,000. The three legs of the series—the Bermuda Billfish Blast, the Bermuda Big Game Classic and the Sea Horse Anglers Club Bermuda Billfish Tournament—offered a record total payout of $1,750,500 this year. The champion was determined by the highest overall combined points of all three tournaments.
Capt. Chris Weeks led his team of angler-owner Jim Jensen, anglers Brian Speedy and Jimmy David, and mates Annibal Moya and Derek Scherz to release 14 blues and eight whites for a total of 7,800 points, rightfully earning second place in the series and $29,700 in cash. Plane Simple collected a total of $144,975 in cash awards throughout the tournament season.
Third place was claimed by the team aboard El Cazador from Stuart, Florida, with Capt. Paul Alderman at the helm, angler-owner Bobby Ricks, and anglers Sail Ricks, Sarah Ricks, Gillian Ricks, Jack Ricks, Chad Hammann, Scott Behrhorst and Mitch Morel. The team released a total of 14 blues and two whites to earn 7,200 points and the third-place-overall check for $19,800. El Cazador collected a total of $89,115 in cash awards throughout the tournament season.
The largest blue marlin of the 2023 Bermuda Triple Crown Billfish Championship weighed 714 pounds and was caught by the team on Blue Bill, captained by Mike King. Angler-owner Rob High boated his big blue on the first day of the Bermuda Billfish Blast, the first tournament of the series. The Heavy Hitter Winner-Take-All Largest Marlin Jackpot and first place in the BTC Big Three Jackpot amounted to a check for $211,500. From this fish alone, Blue Bill collected a total of $392,400 in cash awards, making it the largest combined payout for a single fish in Bermuda Triple Crown history. Also awarded for the largest marlin of the series was the new Golden Gaff, a perpetual trophy that will feature Blue Bill as the first team name on its base.
Also in the BTC Big Three Jackpot, second place and $29,700 went to the team on Big Deal with Capt. Brian Rabbitt, angler Bill Pembroke, and mates Ben Zafir and Sergio Lobo with a 692-pound blue. The team on Mama Who, captained by John McIntyre, weighed a 581-pound blue marlin reeled in by Sales de LaBarre and collected $19,800 for the third-largest marlin of the series.
New in 2023, the Marina Competition Challenge was won by dockmaster Larry Dean of the Fairmont Hamilton Princess & Beach Club, whose teams amassed the most points with 52,734. Goslings awarded Dean a rum barrel filled with Spirited Seas Ocean Aged Rum, and he accepted it by bringing three straws for the other dockmasters. Other marinas in contention were the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club and PW Marine.
The fleet of 42 boats caught 337 billfish during nine total fishing days throughout the series, including 266 blue marlin and 71 white marlin. All but eight of the blues and all of the white marlin were released. Strict tournament rules dictate a 500-pound minimum for boated blue marlin.
This year, Jennifer Dudas did an exceptional job taking on the role of tournament director and leading her team of associate events director Lacey Hagler, sponsorship director Kat Haack, marketing manager Brooke Cantwell and photographer-videographer Michelle Gaylord.
Dudas added new optional jackpots, including a Winner-Take-All Blue Marlin Jackpot and a new Daily Blue Marlin Jackpot, so teams were allowed to boat one blue marlin per boat per day. As part of the Bermuda Triple Crown series, new series jackpots were also added, including the Bermuda Triple Crown Big Three Marlin Jackpot and the Heavy Hitter Winner-Take-All Largest Marlin of the Series. Overall-release and daily-release jackpots remained optional levels within the event. Omnidirectional sonar was also addressed, requiring boats equipped with these electronics to wait until lines in to deploy their equipment.
For more information about the Bermuda Triple Crown Billfish Championship, contact tournament director Jennifer Dudas at [email protected].
Bermuda Triple Crown Championship Sponsors
Bermuda Tourism Authority, Goslings, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, CAT Marine, Gregory Poole CAT, Pantropic Power CAT, Foley CAT, Ring Power CAT, PW Marine, Miles Market, The Waterfront Residence, Hawkins, Satcom Direct, Royal Naval Dockyard, The West End, Hamilton Princess & Beach Club, Guy Harvey, Costa, Yeti, Garmin, Spar Yard Marine Solutions, Seakeeper, Butterfield & Vallis, Release Marine, AFTCO, Island Construction Services, Dassault Aviation, Steve Goione Marine Artist, OluKai, Fishing Tease, Bodo Muche Studio-Foundry, Coastal Carolina Cutting Boards, VanMark Jewelry Designers, Penn, Blue Water Desalination, Airmar, Island Glass, Rego-Sotheby’s International Realty, City of Hamilton, RUBIS Energy Bermuda, IWS ScaleMaster, Big T Lures, Traeger, Meater, Florida Detroit Diesel Allison, Atlantic Detroit Diesel Allison, Bausch Towers, Marlin, Salt Water Sportsman, Sport Fishing, and Out Your Front Door.
About Bermuda Triple Crown Billfish Championship
An angler’s dream, the pursuit of world-record-class blue and white marlin draws some of the finest sport-fishing vessels in the Atlantic, Gulf and Caribbean regions to the island nation of Bermuda each summer to compete in the prestigious Bermuda Triple Crown Billfish Championship. The three legs of the Bermuda Triple Crown are the Bermuda Billfish Blast, the Bermuda Big Game Classic and the Sea Horse Anglers Club Bermuda Billfish Tournament. The champion is determined by the highest overall combined points of all three tournaments. At stake is a sizable cash purse, champions rings, and the bragging rights of being named Bermuda Triple Crown champions.
Bonnier is an outdoor adventure company that fuels passion for fishing, boating, sailing, motorsports, hunting and travel. Bonnier has the nation’s leading portfolio of experiential events and iconic media brands in the marine category and an extensive series of nationwide motorsports and hunting events. Publisher of Salt Water Sportsman, Marlin, Sport Fishing, Boating, Yachting, Cruising World and Sailing World, Bonnier also produces award-winning SFTV programming and is the worldwide market leader for international billfishing tournaments. Each year, Bonnier hosts a network of expeditions, expos, jamborees, tournaments and regattas across the US as well as in Mexico, Bermuda, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Panama, Australia and the Virgin Islands. Bonnier is owned by Sweden-based Bonnier AB, a globally operating conglomerate with more than 200 years in publishing.
About the Marlin Group
The Marlin Group is the world’s largest network of big-game fishing enthusiast brands, with an integrated portfolio of media and experiential event properties that cater to anglers, captains, mates, and others who pursue the ocean’s apex predators. The group publishes Marlin, the industry’s No. 1 source since 1981, and is the worldwide market leader for international billfishing tournaments, with the Offshore World Championship in Costa Rica, the Bermuda Triple Crown, the Scrub Island Invitational Series in the British Virgin Islands, and the Los Cabos Billfish Tournament in Mexico. Marlin Expeditions—formerly Marlin University—has led anglers on educational excursions to the globe’s best big-game fishing destinations for more than 20 years; in 2023, it will visit Costa Rica, Guatemala, Cape Verde, Panama, Australia, and Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. The Marlin Group is an operating unit of Bonnier LLC, an outdoor adventure company that fuels the passion for fishing, boating, sailing, motorsports, hunting and travel.