Despite less than hospitable weather January 25th – 29th 2012 saw an influx of visitors, anglers and boats as they gathered at the Grenada Yacht Club for the 43rd annual Budget Marine Spice Island Billfish Tournament. With growing international appeal, it was no surprise that this year’s event attracted visitors from as near as Trinidad & Tobago , Barbados and St Lucia and as far as Curacao in the south, the USA, Scotland and even Australia.
Conservation methods implemented by the SIBT Committee have attracted the attention of the global Billfish community. Dr. Ellen M. Peel, the internationally renowned President of The Billfish Foundation, was recommended to visit Grenada and indeed attended as well as fished at this year’s tournament.
Dr. Peel was enthusiastic in her commendation of the BMSIBT Committee for the high standards of conservation practiced in the tournament. “Billfish are some of the most overfished species in the world. I would like to commend the BMSIBT committee for their efforts in promoting the survival of the billfish species.” said Dr. Peel at the skippers briefing held Wednesday 25th. Dr. Peel also presented Capt. Gary Clifford of the BMSIBT committee with a certificate of recognition for his efforts in tagging and releasing billfish in Grenada over the last 15 years. Since moving to a modified release format several years ago, increasing numbers have attended Grenada’s tournament because of the lead it sets in promoting conservation of Billfish.
Grenada’s tournament was graced by two world renowned Captains this year.
Capt. Bart Miller from Australia, fished on the Trinidad & Tobago boat Knot Easy, Bart is famous both as a Captain and for his legendary line of “Black Bart” lures. The boat Exile made a 3rd visit to the tournament after a gap of more than 10 years. Owned by Dr Frank Pettisani and captained by the legendary Luis Suarez (multi time Atlantic billfish release champion) Exile had never finished outside the top 3 and this trend was not about to be broken…
January 26 saw the boats make an impressive parade through the Carenage on the way out to the bimini start at 7.30am. As the cannon fired the boats raced off into the moderate seas. Pair a Dice (T&T) reported the first hook up but lost the fish shortly afterwards. Exile (Aruba) got the first release and Surf n Turf (Grenada) the second – both sailfish. Releases then continued throughout the day. With 2 minutes to lines up Yes Aye (Grenada) added a white marlin release to their earlier 2 sailfish releases to be in first place with 1200 points at end of day one, Super Cool Too (T&T) were 2nd with 1100 and Zingo (T&T) were 3rd also with 1100 points. In total 28 billfish were released on day 1.
Day Two presented the boats with some challenging conditions with wave heights exceeding 8 feet at times – the fish however were unconcerned! Abracadabra (T&T) released a sail a white and then a blue to take the Grand Slam prize (Grenada is recognized across the Caribbean for being the best place to catch three species of billfish in one day) – for good measure they later added another sail to end day 2 with 1700 points ahead of Yes Aye with 1500 closely followed by Exile who caught 2 sailfish as they had on day 1, and by Step Ah Side (T&T) who were moving up the leader board. In all 30 billfish releases were recorded on day 2.
A great burger and hot dog night followed after the fishing followed courtesy of Anything on the Water. Saturday was the usual Lay Day cook out on the beach at the Grenada yacht Club – long time home of the tournament.
Sunday, January 29 was the last days fishing and with so little points difference between the top 10 boats it was still anybody’s game. In the end Abracadabra extended their lead to 2500 points by releasing a blue marlin and a white marlin. Step ah side also got 2 more releases to take 2nd place with 2100. Exile added another sailfish to their tally before Yes Aye did likewise to overtake the local boat into 3rd place – both boats with 1800 points. Day 3 was the best action with 32 releases taking the event total to a respectable 90 releases – not bad considering the difficult conditions.
First place boat, Abracadabra, from Trinidad and Tobago also captured the desirable Grand Slam prize of a dinghy and Tohatsu outboard sponsored by Budget Marine and insured by Grenadian General Insurance Co. ltd.
Gordon Dalgliesh on Abracadabra took 1st place angler and top release angler. Liz Hickman on Surf n Turf took top lady angler and 2nd place angler overall, Bobby Hammond on Yes Aye took 3rd place angler overall. Joshua Archer on De Reel Viking (Barbados) was top junior angler. Local boat Yes Aye, took 4th place overall and top Grenadian boat which included the Cleve Adams memorial trophy, Samsung phones and credit from LIME Grenada, and a trophy from the Barbados Game Fishing Association, Exile won the Top Non T&T boat trophy presented by the Trinidad & Tobago Game Fishing Association.
In the boat pool category (weight of fish bought to the scale) 4th place with 131 lb was Catalyst from Trinidad & Tobago, 3rd place was Temptation from Trinidad & Tobago with a nice yellowfin tuna which weighed 167 lb, 2nd place went to Southern Cross from Trinidad & Tobago with 287 lb and the first place winner was De Reel Viking from Barbados with a whopping 434 lb.
Anglers thanked the committee for the outstanding hospitality extended to them and all expressed their desire and determination to return for the 44th tournament carded for January 22nd – 26th 2013.
The committee thanked all sponsors and contributors who made the event a tremendous success: Title sponsor Budget Marine Grenada, Grenada Board of Tourism, Beacon Insurance Co. Ltd., Carib, Camper and Nicholson’s Port Louis Marina, CIBC First Caribbean Int’l Bank, LL Ramdhanny & Co. Ltd. Reef Safe (supplied by Steele’s Auto), Grenadian General Insurance Co. Ltd, Horizon Yachts Charters, the Grenada yacht Club, the Government of Grenada and many other supporters.