69th International Billfish Tournament San Juan Puerto Rico
August 16-21, 2022
The longest continually running offshore salt water tournament in the world, at 69 years, kicked off on August 16, 2022 with a great Registration Party at Club Nautico de San Juan. 25 IGFTO members (Bob Hicks, Robert Smith, Derwood Roberts, Barbara Evans, Mike Gordon, Julio Colomba, Mike Cisneros, Gina Teixeria, Lyn Tayloe, Mike Sampsel, Mike McCorkle, Marcy Costa, Roger Dart, Rick Alvarez, Ed Hails, Dewey Blaylock, Kelie Limehouse, Joe Ingram, Cindy Pruett, Adriana Vale, Mark Sorel, Alan Buchfuher, Scott Smith, John Wells, and Art McDonald) attended the IGFTO Observers meeting on the 17th, followed by a kick-off party which included the historic Flag Ceremony where international teams were introduced.
This year, the IBT had joined the prestigious Sport Fishing Championship – a multi-tournament format that was fished in 11 different locations in the US, Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico with the IBT being the concluding tournament – and the winner would be crowned at the Awards Banquet and receive a $1,000,000 payout (CBS Sports covered the event). The first day of fishing on Thursday, August 18th saw 249 Anglers on 58 boats representing 45 teams line up at the entrance to El Morro (the historic Spanish fort at the entrance to San Juan Harbor) and, at the allotted time, engage in a classic Bimini Start (they call it a “Shootout”) where those 58 boats created lots of white-water as they raced to the fishing grounds. Things got off to a quick start at an 8:00 AM “lines in” format, with the first blue marlin release called in by Cervecita (52 Viking) at 8:33 AM. A total of 19 Blues and one White were released on Day 1. Day 2 (August 19) was a mirror of day 1 with 20 blues released.
A gala dinner was had after fishing hours - highlighted by a computerized drone show outside with 185 drones forming incredible profiles in the night – it was spectacular, and really hit up the Internet with videos and pictures the next day. A weak low pressure area arrived later in the evening and slowed down the bite on Day 3 with only 11 billfish released (9 Blues and 2 Sailfish) and, interestingly, not a release after 1:32 PM (nor a hook-up either).
When the smoke cleared, a total of 50 Billfish were released consisting of 47 Blues, 1 White, and 2 Sailfish. The 72 Viking Sarl Victoria took command of first place overall with 4 Blue Marlin releases, followed by Drill Hound (47 Jersey Cape) with 2 Blue releases and 3rd place going to Picara (64 Viking) also with 2 Blue releases. In fact, there were 14 boats with 2 marlin releases. A special note to mention that the Quantified team from Texas (64 Spencer) took 2 Blue Marlin Releases and, as part of the Sport Fishing Championship, nailed down the $1,000,000 championship prize (and they came all the way from Texas to win it!).
They haven’t announced the dates for the 70th anniversary IBT in 2023 but you can bet the bank, I’ll be there!