Consistenc­y leads to victory


While it’s difficult to emerge victorious in a highly competitiv­e tournament series like the Bermuda Triple Crown without a decisive win in at least one leg, having a “down but not out” mindset can prove to be the deciding factor. That was the case in this year’s series aboard Steve Deckoff’s Pescador, an 80-foot Bayliss captained by Jeremy Fowler and based in the US Virgin Islands. On just their fourth visit to Bermuda, the team stayed the course and walked away with the big win this year.

The Triple Crown consists of three events held throughout the month of July each year. First up: the Bermuda Billfish Blast. Osceola, a 74-foot Viking owned by Alexander Fanjul and based in Palm Beach, Florida, came from behind on the final day of fishing to win the event. With Capt. Robert Hollingswo­rth and Bermudian mate Stephen Cabral, the team released one blue marlin each of the first two days for angler Oliver Fanjul but found themselves facing an 1,100-point deficit on the third and final day of competitio­n. With the leaders struggling to add points, Osceola released a third blue marlin just before 9 a.m. to narrow the gap. Just 90 minutes later, Hollingswo­rth called in a successful blue marlin doublehead­er for Fanjul and Cabral, enough to secure first place with 2,500 points and $98,250.

Just a Dog, a 62-foot Viking from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, owned and captained by Mike Farrens, placed second with four blue marlin and one white marlin, good for 2,100 points, earning $68,980. In third was Capt. Bull Tolson’s

Sea Toy, a 59-foot Spencer home-ported in Oregon Inlet, North Carolina. In the cockpit was 86-year-old Pat McCotter, who was the angler on three of the team’s four blue marlin, taking home $29,270. Top Lady Angler honors went to Meredith Huddle on Builder’s Choice.

Boat owner David Anderson Jr. and Capt. Keith Greenberg teamed up to put Krazy Salts in first place during the second leg of the Triple Crown: the prestigiou­s Bermuda Big Game Classic. The team, fishing aboard their 80-foot Viking based out of Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, released three blue marlin on Day One to take the lead, and they never looked back. They added a fourth blue on Day Two, and while they didn’t score a fish on the third and final day, their 2,000 points was enough to hold off a hard-charging field,

as well as winning the sizable first-place purse of $109,050.

Fishing just their second time in the Big Game Classic, Michael Posillico’s American Beauty team earned the largest payday of the event when they weighed the tournament’s only qualifying blue marlin at 571 pounds. Posillico’s fish swept the optional jackpots, winning $156,600. American Beauty is a 52-foot Shearline captained by Michael Butler and based in Miami Beach, Florida.

The team fishing aboard Auspicious, an 80-foot Viking, including boat owner Joe Rahman and Capt. Ed “Cookie” Murray from Palm Beach, Florida, won the 2020 Bermuda Triple Crown and continue to be one of the most consistent teams competing in the series. Auspicious earned 1,700 points from three blue marlin and two white marlin releases, taking home second place in the tournament. Rahman caught a 107.6-pound yellowfin tuna, adding gamefish prize money to their total of $79,295.

Deckoff ’s Pescador released three more blue marlin in the Big Game Classic, building on their previous point total while also winning third place and $51,230. They moved into the lead for the series championsh­ip at this point.

Lance Converse was the event’s top angler for Team Lunatico on Effie Mae—a 62-foot Titan—with three blue marlin and 1,500 points. Top Lady Angler honors went to Bermudian angler Brittany Rebello, fishing aboard Reel Magician.

Going into the third and final event— the Sea Horse Anglers Club Billfish Tournament—several teams were within striking distance of the Triple Crown series victory. During the Sea Horse event, it was a pair of North Carolina-based boats winning first and second place: Wolverine, a 60-foot

Winter home-ported in Atlantic Beach, and Sea Striker, a 61-foot Jarrett Bay from Morehead City. Wolverine had two blue marlin releases on Day One to finish in second behind Kanaloa, also with two blues. Wolverine added a third release on the second day, and even after drawing a blank on Day Three, their 1,500 points was enough for the win as well as $77,700 in prize money and Top Angler honors for Worth Farrington, the angler on all three of the team’s releases.

Adrian Holler’s Sea Striker had an impressive showing as well, with a 141.7-pound yellowfin tuna on Day One. They rounded out their event with two blues and a white to score a total of 1,100 points and second place. Kanaloa,a New York-based 58-foot Spencer, placed third with 1,000 points from their two blue marlin on Day One. Taylor Lambert on Reel Tight was named Top Lady Angler with one blue marlin release.

With the Triple Crown on the line,

Pescador released a blue marlin on the first day of the Sea Horse, which proved to be the tiebreaker, giving them a total of 3,500 points. Team members included Steve, John and Steven Deckoff, Dan Exell, Nealey Gietisen, Jane Rollins, Capt. Jeremy Fowler and mate Mark Jenkins. They received gold champion’s rings from VanMark Jewelry, a Bodo Muche bronze trophy and prizes.

Builder’s Choice finished in second, also with 3,500 points, but won the optional series jackpot, worth $31,500. Placing third in the series was Just A Dog with 3,300 points, and an additional $18,900 for second place in the series jackpot. A total of 38 teams fished at least one leg of the series, competing for $863,050 in prize money and catching 121 billfish: 105 blue marlin, 15 white marlin and one spearfish over the nine days of competitio­n. Each of the winning teams will also be invited to fish in the 2022 Offshore World Championsh­ip.

remaining in the season. A second-place showing in the Pensacola Big Game Fishing Club Internatio­nal Tournament put them in first going into the season finale: the Blue Marlin Grand Championsh­ip. Ten other teams also had a shot at the title as well, but none were able to overtake Tice, Hallmark and the Devotion team, winners of the 2021 Gulf Coast Triple Crown. “To have my name alongside those other great captains who have won this in the past—some of the best captains and fishermen in the world— that’s an unbelievab­le honor for me and our team,” he says.

This was the first season of fishing together for Tice and Hallmark, and the owner credits his captain not only for his fishing ability, but also for his ability to recruit a top-shelf team. “That is one of Jason’s greatest strengths, to be able to put together an excellent crew,” Tice says. “That has always been a trademark of his: being able to attract top talent to the boat he is running.”

Like many things on the northern Gulf Coast, it was the late Sonny Middleton who came up with the original concept of a billfish championsh­ip series. It took nearly 10 years to develop the Gulf Coast Triple Crown into a competitiv­e tournament series, promoting offshore big-game fishing in the Gulf of Mexico and awarding an annual champion.

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Team Pescador
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Krazy Salts
Team Krazy Salts
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Team Devotion

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