As the eighteen teams gathered in Harbour Island for the second leg of the 2012 Bahamas Billfish Championship, the weather forecasters were calling for windy conditions for part of the tournament. No one realized, at the time, that the forecast weather system would adversely affect the tournament and go on to become Tropical Storm Beryl.
The BBC’s new format allows teams to fish three out of four days with a required ‘captain’s choice’ layday. And, since the worst of the weather was predicted for day two, the fleet was anxious to fish on Wednesday, day one. With five blue marlin and three white marlin releases before noon, it looked as if the Harbour Island Championship was off to a great start. Unfortunately, as the day went on, the weather deteriorated and so did the fishing. Day one finished with five blues, five whites and one sailfish released.
One of the highlights of day one was the ‘Grand Slam’ performance of team Fa-La-Me. The blue, the white and the sail accounted for 900 points and the Grand Slam meant that Frank Rodriguez’s team would receive 700 bonus points at the conclusion of the tournament.
As expected, none of the teams ventured out on day two. Day three’s weather was not much different than day two; however, forecasters predicted improving conditions as the day progressed and several teams opted to wait to see if the forecast was correct. Sadly, although the weather improved slightly, the fishing was dismal.
Dawn on the final day brought gentle breezes and patches of sunshine between the rain squalls. And, shortly after the call for ‘lines in,’ the Committee Boat was reporting releases. For some of the fleet, fishing had improved. Three of the teams that did well on day one continued to add points on day four. By day’s end, three more blue marlin were released along with five more white marlin.
Junior Davis, whose team, Wave Paver, led the tournament with two blue marlin releases on day one, could only manage two white marlin releases on the final day to finish the tournament with 1,600 points. Fa-La-Me added a white marlin on day four and, this along with the Grand Slam Bonus, finished with 1,800 points. Team Miss Annie finished the tournament with two blue marlin releases and 1,200 points.
The Harbour Island Championship sponsors, Bank of America’s US Trust and Merrill Lynch Wealth Management and Silver Airways acknowledged the winning teams during the awards ceremony at the Romora Bay Club & Resort. Sponsor representatives making the trophy presentation were Lisa Verbit of Bank of America and John Domenico of US Trust Wealth Management. The handsomely designed Randy Rich trophy for First Place was presented to Winter Park, Florida based Fa-La-Me along with a $500 Gift Certificate from Treasure Coast Propellers. ‘Top Captain’ and ‘Top Crew’ trophies, sponsored by the Lewis Marine Group, were awarded to Capt. Rob Moore and the crew of Fa-La-Me.
The Second Place team, Wave Paver, from Kissimmee, Florida, and Third Place team, Miss Annie, from Allenwood, New Jersey each received Randy Rich designed trophies and the top three finishers each received gift certificates from Maui Jim Sunglasses, Roffer’s Ocean Fishing Forecasting Service (ROFFS) and bottles of Bacardi Anejo compliments of Bacardi International and Bahamas based Bristol Wine & Spirits.
During the tournament, the eighteen participating boats caught a total of 19 billfish. Blue marlin accounted for 8 of the total along with 10 white marlin and 1 sailfish. At all BBC tournaments, catches and releases are validated using time and date stamped digital images. Affidavits signed by all participants fishing on each team further confirms that the fish was released in accordance with IGFA and Bahamas Billfish Championship rules.
The opening reception and dinner was held at the Coral Sands Resort overlooking the famous ‘pink sand’ beach. The closing cocktail reception was hosted by Caterpillar Marine Power and Treasure Coast Propellers. Both the opening dinner and awards banquet were hosted by the tournament sponsors Bank of America’s US Trust and Merrill Lynch Wealth Management and Silver Airways.
With the win at the Harbour Island Championship and a strong showing at the Guana Cay Championship, team Fa-La-Me moves into First Place in the overall standings for the 2012 Bahamas Billfish Championship with 4,300 points. Miss Annie, who finished in Third Place at Guana Cay and Harbour Island, takes over Second Place in the overall standings with 4,000 points. Miss Annie and team leader Barry Weshnak won the BBC title in 2010 and are anxious to win again this year. Fish Tales, who won the Guana Cay Championship, slips to Third Place in the overall standings. For the overall standings of this year’s BBC teams, visit http://bahamasbillfish.com/bbc_results/2011_results or download the new BBC App for your Apple mobile device. Search 'Bahamas Billfish Championship' in the App Store.