Capt. Jerry Owens has only been to Bermuda twice, as a mate on different boats. Bringing the 61-foot Viking Playmaker to Bermuda for the first time this season, the team managed to stay just steps ahead of the 41 other teams to win the 2018 Bermuda Triple Crown Series by releasing 10 blue marlin and one white marlin — all caught by owner Phil DePaulis’ 24-year-old son, Andrew.
Leg One: Bermuda Billfish Blast
Playmaker was fishing Challenger Bank alone. The team ended up going one for two on blues the first day, and was looking forward to Day Two. “First day of the tournament season, we were on the board and feeling good, and then I hit something,” says Owens. “The haul-out and wheel change cost us most of Day Two, but as soon as we were back in the water, I went straight out to salvage what was left of the day.”
Playmaker charged to the East End for the last two hours, where he would not have fished if he had a full day. The team ended up with one blue marlin that afternoon, and the fish was critical in their overall series victory.
On Day Three, the team caught one more blue, but was unable to keep up with Auspicious’ momentum, which won the Blast with six blues and two whites.
Leg Two: Bermuda Big Game Classic
This tournament would propel Playmaker into the heart of the series competition. Owens fished East End again, where the bait was thickest. Capt. James Barnes, of the 61-foot Garlington Reel Lax, took control of the tournament on Day One, with Hot Spot and Playmaker on his heels. Playmaker ended up going three for three on blues for Day One, but Reel Lax continued the charge, ending up with four blue marlin releases and the daily.
Day Two was tough — with just one white marlin for the day and pulling off a blue first thing, and missing one on the pitch — and Day Three was poised to be even tougher for the team.
The green water had pushed out on East End, forcing the fleet offshore. Playmaker pulled off a blue right out of the gate again, and Owens was getting concerned — he was one blue marlin away from getting ahead of Reel Lax, and now C’est la Vie was making its move.
After lunch, DePaulis hooked into a blue swimming down-sea that was just shy of the tournament’s minimum qualifying length. After a two-hour fight, Owens immediately ran back to where he got bit and hooked another borderline fish. Owens ran back again and caught a third, all in the span of three hours, to stay ahead of C’est la Vie and win the tournament.
Leg Three: Sea Horse Angler’s Club Bermuda Billfish Tournament
On the first day, Owens steered Playmaker right to East End. The bite was slowing, and their only marlin pulled off. The bad luck continued through Day Two as the fleet pushed farther offshore. The team had a qualifying fish eat a lure on the left long that ended up jumping on the main line. Adios.
Determined to grind it out, Owens once again found himself at East End. After 45 minutes, Playmaker raised a pair of blues, catching one — giving them the one-fish lead they needed to win the series with a total of 5,200 points.
“We had some crappy luck,” says Owens, “but luckily for us, all the teams within striking distance had some hard luck too — the competition was fierce.” Owens praised mates Ande Wightman and Max Meissner and the team, and is ecstatic to have such a great angler in Andrew DePaulis: “He is a fantastic angler, and getting better every day.”
Reel Lax finished second in the series with a total of 5,000 points. Capt. Albert Miller and the team aboard the American Custom Yachts C’est la Vie finished in third place with 4,700 points.