08 Apr 2011

Richards Bay Skiboat Club was bursting at the seams and bristling with excitement recently as 361 anglers from around the country descended on the coastal town to take part in the SADSAA Billfish competition - one of the premier events on the annual angling calendar (March 1 – 5).

Since The South African Deep Sea Angling Association took over this very popular tournament - previously known as the “Black Watch” – and embraced the Full Release ethic - the event has been accepted as one of the qualifiers for the IGFA (International Game Fishing Association) World Championships.

Boating World Durban’s Zane Dresner joined client Christo Bornman and his party of eight on his Riviera 3350 Sport Fisher – which also included Andre Henn and his ASN (Advanced Sportfishing Network) film crew, presenter Carolien van Rooijen (of ESA fame) and Greg Hills from Penn Reels. And he says that this magnificent craft easily accommodated everyone – some filming, some watching lines, others relaxing in the saloon or catching a snooze in the cabin.

They were aboard one of four Riviera Boats taking part including Anton Viljoen and his crew on another 3350, Martin van Rooyen on his Riviera 37 and Gary Prentice on his Riviera 47 (who was also one of the main sponsors of the event). The Riviera contingent certainly stood out in the crowd of 77 boats in the massed sail past at dawn on the first day.

 It was clear that the skippers could barely contain themselves before racing off in all directions to find the best fishing grounds and burning in each angler’s heart was the expectant hope of catching the most Billfish to bag the trophy and R100 000 cash prize.

Despite going out with great anticipation and travelling north, south, east and west – from shallow to depths of over 1000m - Lady Luck was not on Zane and his compatriot’s side this time! The weather even played it’s part with beautiful hot sunny days, a gentle wind and a strong current running north to south (all four days) – but only Greg Hills caught a fish worth mentioning – a Wahoo of over 20kg. (Carolien also caught a number of small Bonitas which Andre used later to catch Sand Shark).

The other Riviera’s had more success - as Neil McLellan and Phillip Carver each caught a Black Marlin off Anton Viljoen’s 3350 and Les Johnstone caught a Blue Marlin off the Riviera 37. On the last day reports came in from the Riviera 47 that there was a 600-pounder being fought – but this one got away!

 A grand total of 52 billfish were hooked and released. This included: 36 Blue Marlin, 6 Black Marlin, 2 Striped Marlin, 4 Sailfish and 5 Shortbills.

Local angler Takkie Fourie of Richards Bay scooped the big prize of R100 000 cash by hooking and releasing an amazing five Marlin during the competition. He also qualifies for the IGFA World Championships in Mexico in 2012.