Team Tahla’o won the event and received an invitation to compete at the 2018 Offshore World Championship.
Team Tahla’o won the event and received an invitation to compete at the 2018 OWC
51st Annual Antigua & Barbuda Sport Fishing Club Tournaments Set New Participation Records
The Antigua & Barbuda Sport Fishing Tournament has now become one of the largest fishing events in the Caribbean registering a record 47 teams with anglers coming from St. Martin, Guadeloupe St. Barts, Martinique, Barbados, St. Kits, Germany, U.S. and Antigua. The Club provides two tournaments including the Mike Pigott Jr. Memorial one day winner take all billfish tournament followed by the Antigua & Barbuda Sport Fishing Tournament two day event that provides cash and prizes for billfish, gamefish, junior angler, lady angler and top angler. The tournament really spiced things up this year offering a $100,000 prize for beating the Island record of 771-pounds and registering as the newest Offshore World Championship Qualifying event. But the Club is putting on much more than fishing tournaments. Every evening the teams are welcomed back to Nelson’s Dockyard with hundreds of spectators looking on and joining the incredible dockside socials. Live music, Cavalier Rum, Carib Beer, fresh cooked food, wine bar and the beautiful Antigua community is what makes this event special. Angler James Peirce on team Challenge II said it best, “even though we like to compete the main reason we come all the way from Barbados is not to win the tournament, we come for the incredible lime and fun we have here. And with it now being an Offshore World Championship Qualifying Event we have another opportunity to earn an invitation”
The Thursday – Sunday event got going in a big way registering a record 17 boats for the Mike Pigott Jr. Memorial Classic. This is a $1,000 U.S. entry one day winner take all shootout for most billfish points. The first release of the day came at 8:20 for team Mano’lo angler Maxime Moczulski of Guadeloupe. Team Incognito angler Dimitri Asselin from Guadeloupe got their day started early releasing a blue at 9:19. Team Mystic Amara III of Antigua with angler Glenn Irish of Maine released his fish at 9:58. Irish was a longtime client and close friend of Captain Mike Jr. of the famed Vitamin B. Glenn donated a wonderful captain’s bag with rum, lures, and other gifts for the tournament winner. Over the next few hours Barbados team Challenge II with angler Anderson Padmore and Martinique team Big Swordfish with angler Christian Charlesluc released blues to get in the game. Team Incognito separated from the pack earning a second blue release for Asselin at 12:59. Closing the gap quickly though was team Yellow Whip of St. Martin releasing a blue at 1:04 for angler Clement Golaz and another at 2:27 for angler Stephan Petit. Feeling the heat team Incognito added their third and final blue release at 2:43 for angler Asselin that would put them in top position for the tournament. The timing of the release made the difference in the tie breaker as team Challenge II made a late charge converting a double at 3:17 for angler Fynn Armstrong and 3:23 for angler Anderson Padmore bringing them to three releases for the day. Team Incognito fishing on their 36 Yellowfin took home $13,400 in cash plus prizes.
The party continued Friday evening with the Antigua and Barbuda Game Fishing Tournament registering a record 47 teams. With the additional chance at $100,000 for the island record teams prepared their tackle spooling up with the tournament maximum 80-pound test line, rigged baits & lures and set the drags in hopes of finding the fish to beat the current 771.25-pound blue marlin record. The first day of fishing commences with the traditional Bimini start from Nelson’s Dockyard at 6:00am. Boats from twenty to sixty feet raced off to fish the structure and fads just offshore. The weather wasn’t ideal with a system moving through producing strong winds and heavy rain. This seemed to affect the bite as the fishing was slower than normal. Team Mai Dire Mia on their 37’ Boston Whaler did manage to release two blues for anglers Sean Dogwife and Alexandre Subitani to take an early lead. Other teams getting on the board with a blue release on day one were Tahla’o, Tarraya, Bachelay, Seayoo and Double Header. In the Game Fish division team Appolon lead the tuna division with a 110-pounder caught by Jean Pierre Costantini as well as the dolphin division with a 38.60 caught by Frank Petrelluzzi. The leading 52-pound wahoo was caught by team Kemo Sabe angler Mathieu Beaugeard.
The second and final day of the Antigua and Barbuda Sport Fishing Tournament saw plenty of excitement with big fish hitting the scales and more marlin releases. For team Tahla’o from St. Barts it surely was an event they will never forget. Angler Jean-Noel Greaux released a Marlin at 10:01 with teammate David Malespine releasing their third blue of the tournament at 10:10 elevating the team into first place. But team Tahla’o was far from done for the day. Spotting a large marlin feeding on dolphin the team worked the area and with forty minutes left of fishing angler David Malespine got the shot and drove the hook home. Now the team was on the clock as tournaments rules required them to be back to Nelson’s Dockyard by 6:30. Fishing from their 32’ custom center console the very seasoned team was up for the task landing the fish and raced to the scales. With 30-minutes to spare team Tahla’o came to the docks and was greeted by hundreds of spectators. The fish looked massive on the center console and appeared it could possibly break the island record and win the $100,000 prize. With the led Scalemaster display the crowd watched as the pressure was taken off the block & tackle and put on the scale sensor. Ultimately the fish weighed 734 pounds just missing the record. Team Tahla’o Captain Jordan Laplace, Jean-Noel Greaux, David Malespine and Aubin Thomas epic performance earned the team top release boat, largest fish of the tournament, first place team honors and an invitation to the Offshore World Championship.
Coming off their win of the Mike Pigott Jr. Memorial tournament team Incognito suffer a blank on the first day. But the team regrouped on day two finding the honey hole releasing a blue at 8:09 and converting a double at 10:13. The three releases landed team Incognito of Guadeloupe in second place overall and second place release points for Captain Eric Poulin, Loyd Saint Leger, Adrian Kukawski, Raphael Cavina and Dimitri Asselin.
Team Double Header Captain Derek Biel of Antigua added two more releases for angler Gregory Asiodu at 7:35 and 10:15 to end up in third place overall and third place release team. Asiodu also received top angler honors in the tournament.
Some impressive game fish catches also won awards in the tournament. Team Les Go angler Michael Fung won top kingfish with a 23.10 fish. Team Baby Luna Sea angler India Abbott won the wahoo division and top young angler with a nice 68.20 fish. Team Ginger angler Chris Dethiere won the Dolphin division with a 38.90. Team Ginger also took the tuna division with angler Rudy Erivan besting a 158.30. Team Ginger received top Sporting Division Boat awards for their game fish catches.
Top lady angler of the tournament went to Nico Jones on Les Go for her 46.70 wahoo
The event culminated in an epic awards party featuring trophies and artwork by famed marine artist Carey Chen who attended the event during his first visit to Antigua. Chen also painted a beautiful original for the tournament. During the awards presentation the tournament recognized Mick and Ruth Liney of England for their 20 years of participation in the tournament on their famed Rum N’ Coke. Following the awards a premium live band fired up getting the whole place jumping as the party went well into the night. A huge congratulation goes out to Chairman Phillip Shoul and Tournament coordinator Robert Hall for putting on a flawless fun event for the participants and community.