Early start: Fishing crews head out of Hamilton Harbour, on the hunt for prize-winning billfish. *Photo supplied
Early start: Fishing crews head out of Hamilton Harbour, on the hunt for prize-winning billfish. *Photo supplied

FRIDAY, JULY 13: This month’s big game fishing tournament will help net the island’s economy around $5 million.

The Billfish Triple Crown attracts the best crews from across the world and sees around 40 teams do battle in the waters around Bermuda over 15 days of intense competition.

Series producer, Dan Jacobs, has seen the fishing championship grow significantly since it first started in 2001. And it has become one of the biggest and most exciting fixtures on the game fishing calendar.

Now he is looking at the potential of bringing in a fleet of mega-yachts to Bermuda for an annual event.

He told the Bermuda Sun: “We are looking at the idea of bringing motor yachts into Bermuda and providing entertainment for them when they come in. I have been talking with Bermuda tourism and I think it would be a great opportunity for Bermuda.

“The main thing is to provide these yachts and their crews with an event while they are in port. Entertainment is what they all want. The mega-yacht community would come to the island in their droves if a proper marina was built for them.

“For the first year I would be happy with just 10 yachts and we could grow it from there. There is huge potential and all the money would go back into the island’s economy.”

This year’s Bermuda Triple Crown Billfish Championship began on July 3 and the first stage has already seen the Queen of Hearts crew claim the Blue Marlin World Cup title with a whopping 768lb fish.

Early yesterday morning the fleet headed out to sea for the second stage; the Bermuda Big Game Classic.

Mr Jacobs added: “We estimate that every boat that comes in for the Bermuda Triple Crown will spend around $150,000 while they are here on accommodation, fuel, provisions, playing golf and going out for meals.

“It’s a significant amount of money going into the island’s economy. Some of our guys rent houses down in Tuckers Town or book in to hotels while they are here. Bermuda is a great family location, too, so those taking part in the competition will bring in family and friends too.

“So there’s an extra 700 or 800 people that come in just for the championships.”

Prize money at this year’s event tops the $1 million dollar mark and competition has been fierce.

Mr Jacobs added: “The guys who are here are the best of the best. It’s very competitive but there is a great sense of camaraderie on the water too.

“What a lot of people do not realize is that 98 per cent of the fish that are caught go back into the water. The scoring system is designed to protect the species. In the average series 200 fish are released and five or six are killed. A lot of the guys taking part in this kind of fishing event are the very people who work to protect species like the Blue Marlin and have formed conservation associations.

“If it was not for them there would be no Blue Marlin. And when it comes to Blue Marlin fishing Bermuda is right at the top of the heap.”