With four blue marlin releases over the course of the three-day event, the team aboard First Class-Rocio, based in Arecibo, Puerto Rico, took home the win in the 68th anniversary of the International Billfish Tournament of San Juan.
Tournament chairman and director Roger Casellas said that consistency prevailed on each of the three fishing days, with 21, 21 and 24 blue marlin releases, respectively, each day. “This was a tournament fought until the very last moment,” he says. “Every day was a battle because there wasn’t a clear-cut winner until the end,” he continued, referring to the seven teams that released three billfish each, as well as 11 more boats with two releases each. In the end it would be the lucky First Class-Rocio that scored the fourth marlin to seal the win. The fourth and winning blue marlin was caught by angler Guillo De Leon at around 11:00 on the right long rigger, sealing the victory for the team.
Pasión and Pink Lady, both from Club Náutico de San Juan, finished in second and third place, respectively, each with three blues to their credit. David Iglesias and Eduardo Puig from San Juan and Gian Vasallo from Ponce, Puerto Rico, were the top three anglers with two blue marlin releases each.
Casellas said that four lady anglers released fish, including Sheri Kocher, another newcomer from Florida, who took the traditional dip upon returning to the dock, as well as local anglers Camelia Fernández and Ana Maldonado, who won top lady angler honors based on time.
Of the 38 participating teams in the international division, the US team of Bruce Sher, Rhamses Carazo and Carlos Luis Rodríguez finished in first place, followed by the Dominican Republic, represented by Wally Heinsen, Eduardo Read and Horacio Read, and then Guatemala, which performed very well with young anglers Juan Manuel Cobar, Pablo Sechel and Javier Pira fishing aboard a 31-footer. Next year will mark the 69th anniversary of the IBT, making it one of the longest-running billfish tournaments in the world.