by Curlan Campbell, NOW Grenada
The 49th annual Spice Island Billfish Tournament experienced its first scare since the inception of the tournament, as one of the vessels Godda Go, a 35ft Cabo manufactured vessel out of Trinidad and Tobago sank while fishing over the weekend.
Just around 12:34 pm on Sunday the coastguard responded to a distress call that the vessel was taking on water fast forcing the boat’s occupants to abandon ship. The boat was registered for the tournament by Faizal Mohammed,captain and his crew of 6 including Richard Durity, Noble Marques, and Marco Passcar.
Chairman of the organising committee Richard McIntyre said the vessel’s crew were rescued safely by a nearby boat. “They were in serious problems. They have been in touch with the control before because they actually caught two yellow-fin tuna and was fighting with one at the time then suddenly they realised that they were filling up with water. I think they spent more time trying to catch the fish until they realised the boat was going down and possibly within 25 minutes the boat sank, but they were able to send off a distress call. Their documents they were able to save and they had to jump into the water and was picked up by a boat.”
McIntyre said luckily no one was injured. “We have expressed our regret and concern…another boat came and brought them in one time, because it was very emotional because they could not fish further having to rescue the 6 guys. They came in at around 2 pm.”
Despite the Sunday incident, the 49th annual Spice Island Billfish Tournament has been labelled another success as the tournament continue to receive regional and international recognition.
McIntyre said, “When you have the president of Bertram Yachts calling us and saying, ‘I would like to be a part of this, your tournament has a huge number of Bertram boats and we want to talk to you about collaborating in your 50th year,’ it means that our outreach is in America. We have the editor of Marlin magazine [who] has been here and he will be writing an article about Grenada.”
As the organising committee sets its eyes on next year’s 50th annual Spice Island Billfish Tournament, McIntyre said it is hoped that the plan to increase berthing space at the Grenada Yacht Club will start in earnest.
“We need another dock. We have applied to the government for this and we really do hope that we can start construction sometime in February, because this year in order to accommodate all the boats some had to be berth at Port Louis Marina and they themselves had their own challenges. We see this as a means to an end as next year I am looking at accommodating 70 boats. We have submitted plans to the physical planning unit and we are anticipating an additional 18 or 20 berths with the plans all drawn up because there is an absolute need for it.”
The chairman said the format has been changed for next year’s tournament. “We are going to have a half day the first day then we will have a full 2nd, 3rd and 4th days so it is literally 3 half-days and hopefully we would have our dock facilities.”
The annual tournament is the longest running continuous sports fishing tournament in the Southern Caribbean. This year’s tournament was won by Francois Mouttet of the boat Magic Lady. They have now earned the right to take part in the Offshore World Championship Tournament in April in Costa Rica.
Organisers have also taken steps to ensure that this tournament continues, by deciding to catch and release billfish species that are below the required weight.
This year, 80 billfishes landed were released with the biggest caught weighing 165 pounds, 10 pounds lighter than the current unbroken record of 175 pounds.
The record for largest marlin caught still stands at 669 pounds held by Angler Adrien Johnson of the Barbadian boat Legacy, which broke the long-standing marlin record registered in the 37th edition of the tournament.