Team Playmaker Wins 2018 Bermuda Triple Crown

In a close finish, Florida-based Playmaker beats out teams Reel Lax and C’est La Vie for the 2018 Bermuda Triple Crown.

2018 Bermuda Triple Crown Billfish Championship | Michelle Gaylord / Out Your Front Door

The 2018 Bermuda Triple Crown Billfish Championship saw 42 boats fish at least one leg of the tournament for a total series purse of more than $1 million, plus trophies and prizes. Anglers caught 230 billfish, including 198 blues, 31 whites and 1 spearfish, with an average of more than 5 billfish catches per team. No Bermuda Triple Crown event has ever recorded this many blue marlin, blowing away great 2013 and 2016 seasons.

Team Playmaker, this year’s Bermuda Triple Crown winner, was steady throughout the three tournaments, scoring 5,200 points from one white marlin and 10 blue marlin releases during the nine days of fishing.

The 61-foot Viking, owned by Phil De Paulis and captained by Jerry Owens, released three blue marlin in the Bermuda Billfish Blast for 1,500 points. But with 91 blue marlin caught during the Blast, Playmaker’s three fish releases placed them in 17th place.

During the Bermuda Big Game Classic, Team Playmaker took over. The incredible number of blue marlin catches in Bermuda continued during the Classic, and Playmaker lead the way. Over three days of fishing, Playmaker released six blues and one white marlin for 3,200 points and a first-place finish. In total, the 2018 Bermuda Big Game Classic recorded 70 blue marlin, eight white marlin and three wahoo.

During the Sea Horse Anglers Club Billfish Tournament, Playmaker released a single blue marlin for 500 points. But the lead they accumulated from the Bermuda Big Game Classic allowed them to hang on to the top spot. The Sea Horse Anglers Club Billfish Tournament also saw lower numbers of billfish released compared to previous tournaments and not a single blue marlin weighed.

Runner-up Reel Lax scored 5,000 points in the Bermuda Triple Crown, one white marlin release shy of Playmaker. Team C’est La Vie scored 4,700 points, one blue marlin release shy of Playmaker. If a tie occurred, the team who released their last fish first would have been crowned the winner.

Team Playmaker won the 2018 Bermuda Triple Crown Billfish Championship. | Michelle Gaylord / Out Your Front Door

Playmaker, composed of Capt. Jerry Owens, Andrew De Paulis, mate Ande Wightman, owner Phil De Paulis, Brandon De Paulis, Max Meissner, Steve Greenberg, Sean Gallagher and Ray Decosta, were participating in the Bermuda Triple Crown for the first time. Andrew De Paulis handled the angling duties, catching all the billfish for the team. The team picked up $90,750 in winnings on their way to the Bermuda Triple Crown series win. Since no team won more than one tournament, and many different teams won various jackpots throughout the Bermuda Triple Crown, the winnings were spread to a number of different teams. A handful of teams took home 6-figure checks.

For their series win, Playmaker was awarded VanMark custom rings, King Sailfish Mounts trophy, Garmin Quatix watches, Garmin inReach handheld GPS, Bacardi Special Edition Rum, AFTCO Championship apparel, Soundview Millworks trophy, YETI tumblers, and Steve Goione limited-edition Bermuda Triple Crown print. The boat also received a Release Marine custom Bermuda Triple Crown step box, YETI cooler, Taylor Offshore Kraken Dredge, AFTCO harness, AFTCO gaff, AFTCO belt, Chance Custom Rod, Lucas Oil products, Baitmasters of South Florida gift certificate, and custom Big T Lures.

The big fish of the season was caught during the Bermuda Big Game Classic on day three by angler Jason Friedman, aboard the boat Overproof, captained by Peter Rans. Friedman fought the fish for more than four hours. Back at the scales, the blue marlin weighed 930 pounds. With one fish caught all tournament, Overproof landed the heaviest blue marlin of the event and won the Day-Three Largest-Marlin Jackpot.

Two other qualifying blue marlin were weighed during the tournaments, both during the Bermuda Big Game Classic. Angler Ricky Sousa Sr. aboard Hot Spot, captained by Ricky Sousa Jr., landed a 605-pound blue marlin on day one. Angler Kyle Liane aboard Blank Check, captained by Danny Hearn, landed a 611-pound on day two. Both fish won their team a daily Largest-Marlin Jackpot.

Team Playmaker took home the championship ring at the 2018 Bermuda Triple Crown. | Michelle Gaylord / Out Your Front Door

Many of the participants continued to support the IGFA Great Marlin Race Pop-up Satellite Archival Tag (PSAT) program. Throughout the tournament season, sponsored tags were deployed by teams Reel Steel and Hit ‘N Run. A limited number of PSAT tags were available to Bermuda fishing teams this year.

The Bermuda Triple Crown Billfish Championship is a series of three tournaments presented by the Bermuda Tourism Authority with participants enjoying dinner parties, quality gifts, entertaining video productions, live bands, open bars and a participant-friendly environment. The three tournaments include the Bermuda Billfish Blast, Bermuda Big Game Classic and Sea Horse Angler Club Billfish Tournament.

Bermuda Triple Crown sponsors include the Hamilton Princess Bermuda, VanMark Jewelry, Bacardi Spirits, YETI, Satcom Direct, marine artist Steve T. Goione, King Sailfish Mounts, Garmin, Lucas Oil, AFTCO, Baitmasters of South Florida, Release Marine, CAT Marine, Gregory Poole CAT, Pantropic Power CAT, Foley CAT, PW Marine, Miles Market, Island Construction Services, Soundview Millworks, Big T Lures, Taylor Offshore, Chance Rods, Airmar, and KAM Restoration and Cleaning Solutions.