2021 Los SueƱos Signature Triple Crown Leg 3 Tournament Report

March 28-30, 2021
Story by: Rodney Hinton

Los Sueños 2021 Leg III  Well Worth Over Doing!

I have often thought that anything worth doing is worth over doing. Mr. Bill Royster, the visionary founder of the Los Sueños resort, had that same thought when he created a place where men and women from around the world could catch and release numerous billfish in a single day.  The third leg of the Los Sueños Triple Crown was an example of “go big or go home”. After COVID-19 attacked the world, the third leg of the 2020 Triple Crown was postponed.  Consequently, the winning of the Triple Crown 2020 also had to be postponed.

Leg III Would Decide the Winner of Two Triple Crown Tournaments!  It was decided to make the Leg III of the 2021 tournament a double-header. If a boat participated in the 2020 tournament, the points earned in Leg III of 2021 would also count toward the Leg III of the 2020 tournament.  In addition, the points accumulated in Leg III 2021 would decide the Triple Crown winner for both 2020 and 2021.  This created a strong incentive for those boats that participated in the 2020 tournament to fish Leg III of 2021.

Cheating with a “Sweet Release.”  In the afternoon of March 27, tournament director Ashley Bretecher hosted an online meeting for the Captains and Observers. After reviewing the rules, she discussed something that had been brought to her attention known as a “Sweet Release”. At this point, you could almost hear chairs shuffle as those online moved closer to their computers.  Was this a new legal release technique not allowed for this tournament?

She said firmly that a “sweet release” was illegal, and that observers should confirm that a released fish swims off freely. A “sweet release” consists of leadering a fish alongside the boat, then wrapping the line from another rod around the bill and foul hooking the fish before cutting off the original leader.  Dropping the line back into the spread there is no pressure on the rod until the angler adjusts the drag and the second rod comes tight. If the observer is not watching the release, it will appear as though another fish has been hooked.

Day 1, Uno Mas: The boats I was assigned to for each of the three fishing days of Leg III were Uno Mas, Pura Vida, and Max Bet. Thanks to every one of these teams for allowing me to observe some of the best fishing in the world. On board Uno Mas, I watched as the eventual overall Top Angler of the 2021 Series, Maria Magalhaes, released a Blue Marlin and a Sailfish. Overall, she released 5 marlin and 18 sails during the tournament earning her team 4,300 release points.

Day 2, Pura Vida: Day two, on board Pura Vida I was the guest of owner Juan Carlos (JC) Gonzalez and Captain Rudy Arguedas. I enjoyed listening to the story about how a group of high school friends from Florida fished Los Sueños, dreaming of one day of buying a boat and fishing in the tournament. Captain Rudy told me that JC would say, “One day I’m going to buy a boat and you’re going to be my captain”. That dream came true when Mr. Gonzalez purchased the Pura Vida, a 55-foot Viking on the east coast of Florida.  He called his high school friends, motored the vessel around the southern end of the Florida Keys and fished in the waters off Cuba.

The interesting part of the story for me was that his dad came to the United States from Cuba with just “a nickel in his pocket”. He wanted to raise a family where he was free to dream and set his own goals. What a feeling that must have been for JC to cruise past Cuba in his new 55 Viking Sportfish with his friends. He had the boat shipped to Costa Rica where he and his friends continued to make memories that will last beyond a lifetime.

This team did not like a crowd and Capt. Rudy was a master at operating the Furuno Sonar giving his team a shot at 15 fish for the day.

Day 3, Max Bet and Team Galati: Day three I was blessed to be on board the Max Bet, a 66-foot Spencer. This was a family fishing team and they were in the hunt to win. They also did not want to stay with the pack and just compete; they wanted to find the fish that would win the tournament. It was a great day but luck did not come our way. Instead, Team Galati seemed to always be in the right place at the right time. Team Galati put pressure on the entire fleet winning the daily on day one.  They led the 2020 and 2021 series after day two.  Then, throttled up, releasing two Blue Marlin to start the day.  Team Galati won day 3, Leg III and the 2020 and 2021 Triple Crown Series.

Many of us will remember this as the tournament that allowed the world to travel again and enjoy the wonders that God created for us. Thanks to the tournament staff, the boat owners, captains, and crews, and especially to the welcoming people of Costa Rica.


Here are the IGFA rules that will disqualify a catch for your review.  Numbers 10 and 11 apply to the “Sweet Release”.  All the rules can be found at www.igfa.org.

1. Failure to comply with equipment or angling regulations.

2. The act of persons other than the angler in touching any part of the rod, reel, or line (including the double line) either bodily or with any device, from the time a fish strikes or takes the bait or lure, until the fish is either landed or released, or in giving any aid other than that allowed in the rules and regulations. If an obstacle to the passage of the line through the rod guides has to be removed from the line, then the obstacle (whether chum, rubber band, or other material) shall be held and cut free. Under no circumstances should the line be held or by anyone other than the angler during this process.

3. Resting the rod in a rod holder, on the gunwale of the boat, or any other object while playing the fish.

4. Hand lining or using a hand line or rope attached in any manner to the angler's line or leader for the purpose of holding or lifting the fish.

5. Shooting, harpooning, or lancing any fish (including sharks and halibuts) at any stage of the catch.

6. Chumming with or using as bait the flesh, blood, skin, or any part of mammals other than hair or pork rind used in lures designed for trolling or casting.

7. Using a boat or device to beach or drive a fish into shallow water in order to deprive the fish of its normal ability to swim.

8. Changing the rod or reel while the fish is being played.

9. Splicing, removing, or adding to the line while the fish is being played.

10. Intentionally foul hooking a fish.

11. Catching a fish in a manner that the double line never leaves the rod tip.

12. Using a size or kind of bait that is illegal to possess.

13. Attaching the angler's line or leader to part of a boat or other object for the purpose of holding or lifting the fish.

14. If a fish escapes before gaffing or netting and is recaptured by any method other than as outlined in the angling rules.

15. Holding or touching an angler in a manner that assists them in fighting the fish or takes pressure off the angler. Touching or briefly holding the angler to prevent them from falling does not constitute a disqualification.