What happens when you team together cream-of-crop sports fishermen to some of the best fishing locales in the world? Hopefully a series that will bring the sport of big game fishing close up and personal to millions of television viewers. This is the dream of St. Thomas-based pioneering sports fisherman, Jimmy Loveland.
The Bermuda Triangle Series (BTS) links a trio of tournaments: the Bahamas in late May, the "Grander-lurking" banks of Bermuda in July and the famous Virgin Islands' "Boy Scout" tournament in August.
Loveland says: "The BTS is designed so that everyone in the industry has a stake in it. We are testing the skills of the anglers and crews, along with the performance of the boats, the fishing tackle, the engines and the various navigation packages. This a true Blue Water Challenge! Simultaneously, we have been putting together the players who will participate in filming the project."
As for the organization of the series, Loveland explains: "The BTS is considered a 'team' event, yet individual legs are fished as 'angler' tournaments under modified release rules. Rules-wise this means you can boat a potential IGFA (International Game Fishing Association) World Record and receive the same number of points as if it were released. If it weighs in short, the points are lost. Teams earn points in the overall series, while angler points are the measure during the individual legs."
To win the BTS Jackpot or Calcutta, Loveland continues " at least two legs of the series must be fished and one must be the St. Thomas leg. Teams fishing the series put money into a special pot that can only be won by those teams who are signed on for the series."
Referring to the series in general, he says, "there are no restrictions regarding the qualifications of an angler and team members may change during the various legs. IGFA Certified Observers are provided. Blue Marlin, White Marlin, Sailfish and Spearfish each count for points in the overall series."
In addition to money, a new tradition started with the inaugural series in the form of a beautiful and prestigious angler prize. Loveland says: "The top series angler of each leg is awarded a gold hook shaped pendant inserted with precious gem. There's a sapphire for the Bahamas leg, ruby for the Bermuda leg and a diamond for the St. Thomas leg."
Florida-based marine artist Ed Pang designed the pendant. "The hook design has a long history in sports fishing," says Pang. "In primitive times, a fishing hook was a prized possession. It was used for catching fish and therefore as a food gathering implement it signified security."
Rum Bum's mate and angler, Shawn Albury, released a marlin the first day of the competition in last year's Bermuda leg and earned the first pendant. Last year, Jose Valdes' Team Lady Lou, Luis Bacardi's Team Rum Bum, and Nicholas Pierini aboard Team Somoya/Challenger were the pioneering series entrants, with Valdes' winning the overall "Best of Series" title. This year, Team Somoya, Team Rum Bum, Team On Line and Team Topless have already signed on for the series. In addition to the series teams, other boats are signed up for the tournament leg held in their locale.
The first leg of the 2005 BTS will kick off in Harbour Island, in the Bahamas, May 26 to 28, out of host Harbour Island Marina and Yacht Club. The second leg will be held in Hamilton, Bermuda, July 7 to 9. The third leg is the USVI Open/Atlantic Blue Marlin Tournament in St. Thomas, August 15 to 20.
Loveland says: "Just as with other projects we initiated like the IGFA Certified Observer Program and the Big Game Room at the Miami International Boat Show, the BTS is a "from the ground up effort."
"Should we fail in making the bright lights of a documentary/reality fishing series, we guarantee that we will succeed in producing a world-class series of blue water tournaments."