2011 San Juan International

Exclusive coverage from the tournament hosted by Club Nautico de San Juan

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Anglers on the north coast of Puerto Rico see their share of sailfish and white marlin later in the year, but September brings blue marlin. The International Billfish Tournament, hosted by Club Nautico de San Juan, is the world’s oldest continuously running billfish tournament, marking it’s 58th year this past September 4 through 9. This year's tournament was cut short by Tropical Storm Maria. In just three days of fishing instead of the typical four, 51 boats released 84 blue marlin, including a spectacular finish when Mayte came from fourth place to top boat by releasing three blue marlin on the last day. While it’s a prestigious event, this is a yacht club tournament. Entry fees are $1850 per angler — low by billfish tournament standards. That money goes toward trophies and a solid week of parties. Modest cash prizes come only from the optional Calcutta. The IBT is about competition and fun, not cash. Next year's tournament is scheduled for September 23 through 30. (www.sanjuaninternational.com).Richard Gibson
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For Hemingway buffs, San Juan is about as close to Papa’s Havana as you’ll find. Marlin fishing starts right at the harbor entrance. Dolphin, wahoo and tuna are mixed into the same waters.Richard Gibson
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Richard Gibson
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Richard Gibson
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The boats and tackle are decidedly different from Hemingway's days aboard Pilar off Havana. The IBT fishes Fifty-pound tackle from multimillion dollar sportfishing yachts.Vincent Daniello
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Vincent Daniello
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Vincent Daniello
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Vincent Daniello
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Richard Gibson
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Courtesy Club Nautico de San Juan
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Courtesy Club Nautico de San Juan
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Richard Gibson
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The IBT kicked off the 2011 Great Marlin Race. Ten satellite tags were sponsored by tournament participants with seven placed in fish during just three days of fishing. Tournament crews also placed 36 traditional "spaghetti" tags.Capt. Vincent Daniello
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Dr. Randy Kochevar of Stanford University readies a tag on tag stick for the Great Marlin Race.Capt. Vincent Daniello
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Richard Gibson
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Richard Gibson
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Capt. Vincent Daniello
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Capt. Vincent Daniello
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Richard Gibson
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Two massive forts, San Felipe del Morro and Castillo de San Cristóbal, protect the harbor and the historic part of town — San Juan was the most heavily fortified city in the New World. While Spain’s treasure fleets never stopped here, the city was a key center for Spanish colonization and trade. Both forts are open to the public as part of the U.S. National Parks Service.Capt. Vincent Daniello
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While the fortress San Felipe del Morro guarded San Juan’s important harbor from attack, the lighthouse atop has guided ships into port. This is the third lighthouse built atop the fort since 1846, when technology first allowed practical lighthouses.Capt. Vincent Daniello
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Capt. Vincent Daniello
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Capt. Vincent Daniello
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Ashore, the streets of Old San Juan — the second-oldest European settlement in the Western Hemisphere — provide the night life and Spanish Caribbean cuisine Hemingway discovered in Cuba when he first arrived in 1939. Yet traveling to San Juan requires no passport. Puerto Rico has been part of the United States since 1898.Capt. Vincent Daniello
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Capt. Vincent Daniello
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Courtesy Club Nautico de San Juan
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Richard Gibson
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The IBT attracts individual anglers and international teams from as far as South Africa and Australia. Photo of second place team from Scotland. The winning Dominican Republic team aboard Peje had to return to the Dominican Republic ahead of Tropical Storm Maria, which hit the next day. Top International angler with three blue marlin went to Trevor Somny from Scotland Club Nautico considers anyone not from Puerto Rico as international.Courtesy Club Nautico de San Juan
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San Juan fishing legend Captain Mike Benitez was nominated to receive the IGFA Chester H. Wolfe Outstanding Sportsmanship Award. Left to right: IBT Chairman Frankie Mirandes, the widow of Chester Wolke - Barbara, Mike Benitez and club commodore Gustavo Hermida.Richard Gibson