2003 Day 1 Results
The historic Fairmont Hamilton Princess Hotel served as a spectacular launching pad for the 2003 Bermuda Big Game Classic which kicked off today in Hamilton. This third annual competition has again increased in size, with more local boats and visiting boats from North America entered for three challenging days of deep sea fishing.
Anglers and crews from the 28 vessels gathered for a kick-off party in the heady atmosphere of the Hamilton Princess's serene garden setting, a lush oasis redolent with the fragrance of tropical and subtropical blossoms. The local tourism board could not have ordered better weather than the moderate trade winds from a near stationary "Bermuda High" that was centered slightly south of the island.
Cocktails and wine flowed freely and a sumptuous buffet, complete with a variety of extravagant dessert pastries, helped keep chatter to a minimum while tournament director Dan Jacobs introduced local dignitaries and ran through the tournament rules and regulations.
In the interests of conservation, the tournament established a 500-pound minimum weight for boating blue marlins; any billfish weighing less would result in a loss of points. Trophies and cash prizes will be awarded for the top three teams based on total points. There will be additional prizes for the largest blue marlin boated, most billfish releases, and the largest game fish (tuna, dolphin, and wahoo). Jackpots will also be awarded to daily winners for the day's largest blue marlin and the highest daily release point score.
It took just six minutes for the first blue marlin strike in this year's Bermuda Big Game Classic, setting the tone for what competitors hope will be a busy three days of fishing. This third annual event features 28 boats – a record field - competing for more than $210,00 in cash and prizes.
Floyd Messer on the Dana Ann had lines in the water for just 6 minutes when the team reported to officials that a blue marlin on the hook. Messer released the blue 23 minutes later, mere seconds ahead of a white marlin release by Linda Carmignani on Hog Wild, who had hooked up at 8:20.
Although Hog Wild released their fish slightly after Dana Ann, they won the first major prize of the tournament, a $10,000 satellite communications package from Mackay Communications. Had Dana Ann been in the early pre-registration category, the boat would have claimed the prize awarded to Hog Wild.
The next fish hooked was a blue marlin by Jim Lambert fishing on board his gorgeous 80' Merritt Reel Tight. The 528-pound blue, which Lambert fought for 48 minutes, turned out to be the day's biggest fish.
Shortly after Reel Tight boated their fish, Hog Wild hooked up again. Linda Carmignani raised the stakes in the overall score by releasing a blue marlin at 9:27 a.m.
By noon there had been nine billfish hooked and eight caught - four blue and four white marlin. All, except the big fish in Reel Tight's cockpit, were photographed alongside the boat to confirm their release.
Ian Whitehead onboard the 35' Maine Coaster Panchdara proved it doesn't take a big boat to catch marlin. He hooked and released a white marlin while Hog Wild was fighting their blue. Later in the day, Notorious, one of the three smallest boats in the competition (31' long), hooked and then unfortunately lost a fish.
By day's end, Dana Ann had added a second blue marlin release by Ed Warrington, increasing their total score to 1,000 points, which made them the Day-One leader. Hog Wild was in second with 700 points and Reel Tight's money fish had them in third with 528 points. They were trailed closely by two other boats, each with 500 points for blue marlin releases.
At the weigh-in station, Reel Tight's fish turned out to be a 528-pound female with small unripe ovaries. Dr. Brian Luckhurst of Bermuda's Dept. of Environment prepared the fish and recovered a small ocean sunfish (Mola mola), skipjack tuna and variety of skeletal remains from its stomach. A 39-pound wahoo on Overproof edged out a 28.5-pound yellowfin tuna on Playmate to take the lead in the gamefish division. Capt. Peter B. Wright
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