It’s hard to underestimate the importance of local knowledge in sport fishing, especially in a high-stakes tournament. Captain/owner Peter Rans and the Overproof team used every bit of their homegrown Bermudian expertise in what ended up being a come-from-behind win in the Bermuda Billfish Blast, the first leg of the 2022 Bermuda Triple Crown.
Fishing aboard their Hamilton-based 50-foot Topaz, the team started the event with a blue marlin release on the first day for angler Jason Friedman, but then blanked on the second day. Rans and his team, including mate Morgan Outerbridge, refused to back down though; angler Martin Estis released a blue marlin just after 9 a.m. on the event’s third and final day, putting them within striking distance. Fifteen minutes later, Estis was back in the fighting chair and tight to a qualifying blue marlin, which ultimately weighed 610 pounds, bringing their point total to 1,610 points and the overall win in the tournament, a check for $38,587, and a spot to compete in the 2023 Costa Offshore World Championship. Interestingly, Rans has weighed seven qualifying marlin over the many years he has fished the Bermuda tournament series, but this is his first outright win of a Triple Crown event. Overproof also leads the Bermuda Triple Crown going into the second leg of the series, the Bermuda Big Game Classic, slated for July 14-18, 2022.
Team Lunatico, a 63-foot Titan based in Palm Beach, Florida, and skippered by Capt. Cory Gillespie, also had an incredible Blast finish. At 3:44 p.m. on the third day of fishing, tournament control received the call that Lunatico had boated a blue marlin with measurements putting it close to—or perhaps even larger—than the current leader from Overproof. The anticipation grew with each passing moment as spectators gathered at historic Barr’s Bay Park. The final weight for boat owner and angler Lance Converse’s blue marlin was recorded at 682 pounds, winning Lunatico the $87,300 jackpot for the largest fish of the tournament. This is Gillespie’s seventh season competing in Bermuda.
Representing Morehead City, North Carolina, Adrian Hollar also returned for his seventh season in Bermuda aboard his 61-foot Jarrett Bay, Sea Striker, captained by Pete Zook. The team stayed consistent throughout the tournament, with a blue on the first and second days and a third blue marlin release at 9:30 a.m. on the final day of fishing. Just as time was running out, Sea Striker called in a white marlin release with just three minutes remaining to net them 1,600 points and a second-place finish, good for $51,052, including the overall-points jackpot.
The family team on El Cazador, an 85-foot Scarborough based out of Texas, also enjoyed great success. Capt. Paul Alderman put 15-year-old Jack Ricks on the fish, with two blue marlin releases on the second day and one on the third, giving them 1,500 points for third place on time as well as top angler and top junior angler honors for Ricks. Top lady angler honors went to Taylor Lambert, who released two blues and a white marlin while fishing aboard Reel Tight with Capt. Joe Fiegel.
The 35-team field of 197 anglers caught 73 billfish over the course of the three-day event, including 44 blues, 26 whites and three spearfish. The tournament culminated with a gala awards banquet in the Harbourview Ballroom at the historic Hamilton Princess Hotel. The Bermuda Billfish Blast awarded $303,000 in cash, plus additional prizes. The event recognizes and thanks its many sponsors, especially Bermuda Tourism Authority.