February 28, 2012

Fishing aboard great yachts with elite anglers and in a unique ambiance only has one benchmark: the International Billfish Tournament of Club Náutico de San Juan, to be held Sept. 23-30 in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Save the Date!

“The Great Marlin Race” was launched last year as part of the Tournament, and race organizers are amazed by a spectacular fishing milestone: a pop-up electronic tag deployed during the Tournament in August 2011 by angler Mike Benitez (RIP) traveled an outstanding length of 4,776 nautical miles from Puerto Rico to Angola, Africa, and currently stands as the marlin that has traveled the farthest with a “Pop-up Archival Transmitting Tags” (PATs).

“Our International Billfish Tournament has another world record,” said Miguel Donato, chairman of the 59th International Billfish Tournament (IBT).

“Race organizers are astonished, including scientists from Stanford University. We have always achieved great goals, but this time no one imagined it would go that far,” he said.

The 575-pound blue marlin (estimated weight according to angler) swam across the Atlantic and the Equator to Angola coastal waters in 120 days and surfaced on January 5, 2012 (two days after Mike Benitez passed away in Boston). For Stanford University scientist in charge of PATs data collection, this is the kind of effort they dream about and shows how remarkable billfish are.

“The IBT offers a sports fishing platform that has endured nearly six decades, with great capabilities and synergy,” said Donato. Last year, under the stewardship of IGFA leaders (International Game Fish Association), including its president Robert Kramer, tournament participants sponsored 10 PATs, and deployed seven of these satellite controlled mechanism under the supervision of scientist, Dr. Randy Kochevar from Stanford University. Another PAT deployed by angler Norman Pichardo from Ecuador surfaced near Venezuela in October 2011.

For the past 59 years, the International Billfish Tournament of Club Náutico de San Juan has set the standard. In 1987, it was the first tournament to establish the modified release format, which later became the “tag & release” format. In 2003, it established itself as an all-release format and currently anglers must fish using 50-pound test lines. In addition, “circle hooks” are incentivized. If a fish is boated, it is disqualified. These measures promote both conservation of the Atlantic blue marlin for future generations and a great fishing challenge for Tournament participants to enjoy.

No need to carry your fishing rod, no need to charter a boat (plenty of available options if you do). Visiting anglers are assigned aboard the best yachts, and rotated every day, a hospitality feature that sets this Tournament apart from the rest.

“Marlin Magazine,” which pinpoints only 10 fishing events across the world in a special edition, classified the Tournament as “one of the most successful contests in the Americas… San Juan’s legacy is beyond compare,” said the publication in its October 2011 edition.

In 1988 the tournament set a record for the highest number of blue marlin caught during the four-day fishing event with 190 billfish, a record that stood until the early 1990s.

For companions, the IBT of Club Náutico de San Juan offers unparalleled entertainment. “Fishing widows” enjoy a busy agenda with special events and gatherings prepared by the Ladies Committee.

“We are the best fishing tournament for companions!” said Donato.

As the longest consecutively held international big game fishing tournament in the world, the Tournament attracts deep-sea anglers and connoisseurs who enjoy the “magic” of the International Billfish Tournament of Club Náutico de San Juan.

For more information visit www.sanjuaninternational.com or www.facebook.com/sanjuanibt; send an e-mail to Miguel Donato to chairman@sanjuaninternational.com or to Marely Gutiérrez, Tournament coordinator at marelyg@onelinkpr.net or contact the Club at 787-722-0177.