The 17th annual Custom Shootout brought together 61 of the finest custom sport-fishers on the water today for a highly anticipated tournament in the prolific waters of the Bahamas.
However, it was clear that Mother Nature was not happy. With northeast winds at 15 to 25 knots, the fleet headed to sea in search of billfish in rough conditions. Lo Que Sea battled the seas and the blue marlin to lead after Day One with three blues, while Wave Paver had two blues and a white for the day.
Day Two saw a tropical wave move through the region, producing winds over 20 knots and 7- to 10-foot seas. Grand Slam caught two blue marlin to move into second place; Builder’s Choice also had two blue marlin and El Cazador released a blue and a white.
On Friday night, tournament director Capt. Skip Smith honored each of the 12 custom builders in attendance with a gift from the tournament and a short story, which was followed by a standing ovation. Historically, a tournament has never been able to gather so many custom boat builders in one place, an occurrence which Smith says is just one reason why this tournament so special.
The final day saw the winds clocking around from the southeast as the tropical depression passed the Abacos. The 70-foot Spencer, Plane Simple, started the day with a doubleheader of blue marlin, moving them into the lead. A few hours later, Builder’s Choice released a blue but it would be a short-lived celebration: Plane Simple caught a third blue marlin as well as a white marlin for the day to put themselves in the winner’s circle by lines out. Plane Simple‘s Gerry Connell was the event’s top angler. Builder’s Choice finished in second, while Meredith Huddle from the team was the top lady angler. Jr. Davis and Wave Paver finished in third place overall.
The trophy for the top custom boatbuilder, a 17-year-old Carey Chen glass sculpture, was presented to Paul and Daniel Spencer of Spencer Yachts. For the tournament, there were 129 billfish caught by the fleet.