San Juan International Billfish Tournament
San Juan International Billfish Tournament San Juan, Puerto Rico September 12 – 18, 2016
Can’t think of many places I’d rather be in September than beautiful San Juan, Puerto Rico and the International Billfish Tournament sponsored by the incomparable Club Nautico de San Juan. Lots of folks are unaware that this Tournament, the 63rd annual, is the OLDEST continual salt water tournament in the world. This event has been participated over the years by a “who’s who” in the Sportfishing community as it encourages international teams to ply their expertise against the excellent angling skills of the Puerto Rican contingent – this year was no exception. Anticipation was high in light of several new FADs being placed in easy fishing distance of San Juan Harbor – which began to produce Blue Marlin releases almost from the beginning. The “buzz” started on Monday evening, September 11th at the registration, when the few boats that fished that day all reported multiple shots and several Blues released. IGFTO had 10 experienced Observers invited down which included Ed Tapping, Frank Gibson, Joe Lemerise, Andy Lebuhn, Markwrich Sorel, Rick Alvarez, Ken Simmons, Lyn Tayloe, Tess Sheil, and Art McDonald. A total of 48 boats were registered with up to 4 participating anglers per boat. One of the traditional memories begins on the first day of competition with an outrageous Bimini Start (locally called the “El Morro Shootout”) right in front of El Morro, the historic fort that guards the entrance to San Juan Harbor. It’s a spectacular beginning of an unforgettable week. Day One saw the AD/HD (a 58’ Revenge) surge to the lead with 3 Blue Marlin Released followed by Blue Print with 2, and Tati Way with one on time. A total of 15 Blues were released. Day 2 had 13 Blues released with Panama Jack (50’ Viking) taking the daily with 2 Blues, followed by Legal Drug (2 Blues), and Lady Abi (1 Blue on time). On Day 3, there were 12 Blues released, all 12 on different boats with Caramba (64’ Briggs) taking the daily. It looked like it was going to be a real shootout on the last day as it was anyone’s game to win – and when the smoke cleared a 4th Blue for AD/HD did the trick and they took the overall first-place honors with a Blue released early in the day. Final Standings had AD/HD with 4 Blues (1200 points), followed by Sea Dream – also 1200 points (4 Blues) on time, and BluePrint with 3 Blues (750 points – also on time). The Awards Banquet, at Club Nautico was first-class all the way – great food and drink and nice to see everyone dress up for a change. In total, there were 58 Blue Marlin released… quite impressive, even considering the water temperature, hovering around 87 degrees, was definitely on the high side. Speculation prevailed that the numbers would have been more impressive had the water temperatures cooled 3 or 4 degrees.
The folks at Club Nautico de San Juan really know how to put on a Tournament – the venue, the food, the dock parties (which included, my favorite, Grey Goose vodka), the camaraderie – ALL first class. A special tip of the hat to Salvadore (“Sal”) Egea, the Tournament Director, and Marley Guiterrez, his assistant, for all of their assistance and guidance in making the Observers feel welcome and comfortable. For those of you who have not participated in this Tournament – put it on your calendar for next year…. It’s a “Can’t Miss!”