A Brief History of the Tournament Series

The Bahamas Billfish Championship is a world-class fishing tournament series founded in 1973. Taking place April through June each year, the five Championship tournaments are governed by a uniform set of rules for qualifying billfish. Anglers can fish any or all tournaments with cumulative points determining the overall Bahamas Billfish Champions.

The Championship has its origin in a group of dedicated anglers who, while participating in billfish tournaments in the Bahamas, started an informal competition among themselves in 1968 to determine the 'Bahamas Champion'. In 1973, the competition formally became the 'Bahamas Billfish Championship' and took on a more structured form. The Bahamas Billfish Championship has maintained a consecutive annual schedule that has included as many as six tournaments covering Bimini, the Berry Islands, the Abacos, Cat Cay, Paradise Island, North Eleuthera and Great Exuma.

In 1979, Sam Jennings of Miami, Florida attracted the attention of anglers around the world when he set a Bahamas blue marlin record catching a 1,060.5 pound blue during the BBC's Bimini Summer Blue Marlin Tournamenmt. Jennings' record withstood the test of time until June 2011 when Bahamian, Dave Albury caught a 1,119 pound blue marlin during the BBC's Treasure Cay Championship.

In 1981, the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism assembled a group of resort managers together with Bahamas Billfish Championship anglers and representatives of the recreational boating industry to form the Bahamas Marine Council. The goal of the Council was to enhance the image of boating and sport fishing in the Bahamas and, in particular, to stimulate growth in waterborne tourism. One of the most positive products of the Council's work was the restructuring of the Bahamas Billfish Championship into a world class, international tournament series.

Since 1992, the Bahamas Billfish Championship has been financially independent. A Steering Committee of participating anglers continues to monitor the wishes and the desires of the anglers regarding rule changes and tournament locations. Operating revenues are derived from registration fees, tournament entry fees and corporate sponsorships. Each resort that is part of the Bahamas Billfish Championship's agenda is contracted individually for food and beverage services. This direction provides flexibility for the series to change resorts to areas of more productive fishing and to add or delete tournaments as the need arises or as economic or environmental conditions dictate.

The Bahamas Billfish Championship was an early leader in billfish conservation and pioneered the use of time and date stamped digital images to verify releases. Along with consistently increasing minimum length requirements, the Championship has steadily raised the points for released billfish and, during the 2011 Series, 274 billfish were released.

Throughout its history, the Bahamas Billfish Championship has been a consistent supporter of billfish research. In 2000, the Steering Committee and the Bahamas Billfish Championship instituted a Scholarship Program administered by the Lyford Cay Foundation. The initial scholarship assisted Bahamian students studying marine biology at the college level. The scholarship success prompted the Bahamas Billfish Championship to create a vocational scholarship for continuing education in Marine Technology. Annual tax-deductible donations by Bahamas Billfish Championship anglers insure that the program is fully endowed. More details about the scholarship program can be found at the Lyford Cay Foundation web site.

The Bahamas Billfish Championship's continued growth, combined with positive press and media coverage, translates into a tremendous economic impact for the Commonwealth of the Bahamas. In addition, for 41 years, the Bahamas Billfish Championship has provided a venue for boat manufacturers and suppliers to showcase their products among the world's top tournament anglers and crews.

40 Years of the BBC in Photos

Actually, more than 2,600 blasts (images) from the past 40 years of Bahamas Billfish Championship tournaments. We have created five online volumes of pictures. You can review the pictures and actually save images that you like. Simply click on the volume (below) that you wish to review as individual images or as a slide show. Enjoy!

Photos from 1973 - 1983

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Photos from 1984 - 1993

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Photos from 1994 - 2003

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Photos from 2004 - 2008

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Photos from 2009 - 2012

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Our thanks to photographers Dade Thornton, Bailey Bobbitt, Chris Everhart, John Clemens, Peter & Jackie Caspari and Brenda Fletcher. Special thanks to the IGFA Library and to Brenda Fletcher for digitizing the thousands of old photos, slides and negatives.

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