Bahamas Billfish Championship gets under way

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The 42-year-old Bahamas Billfish Championship started Thursday morning with the Guana Cay Championship as 21 boats are set to compete over four tournaments from April through June in the Abacos.

The tournament started Wednesday night with a captains meeting at Grabbers on Guana Cay. Lines were in this morning at 8 a.m. and they will be out promptly at 4 p.m.

After Active Interest Media’s Marine Group acquired the Bahamas Billfish Championship, a few new rules were unveiled: a new lower minimum length of fish (100 inches); deep drop or snag and drag is now the angler’s choice; one professional angler is allowed per boat; and new Junior Angler and Ladies Angler divisions were added.

The tournament fleet includes boats ranging from 60 to 82 feet.

Following the Bahamas Billfish Championship will be easy. A new feature this year is the ability to get live updates and follow the action remotely via a new app from Reel Time Apps. The app is available free for iPhone and Android devices and allows users to receive live updates during the tournaments, including results, standings and boat profiles. A cool feature also allows users to “favorite” any boat to more closely follow results from that crew.

How it works: A boat captain calls in a catch over the radio to the committee boat; the committee boat records the catch into a custom administration website; and app users are notified in real time with push notifications.

Fans also can follow the action on the Bahamas Billfish Championship website at its Live Scoring link.

This year’s tournament also has several new sponsors, including AIG, Vetus-Maxwell and Caterpillar.

“The BBC is the perfect setting to be able to meet and support our clients in the sportfishing community,” AIG yacht underwriting manager Craig W. Dunstan said. “AIG and BKS Partners are honored to partner with the BBC and be a part of the camaraderie that has been built over the past 40 years.”

Vetus-Maxwell-designed custom-made trophies will be awarded to first-, second- and third-place winners.

The 2015 dates for the Bahamas Billfish Championship are: the Guana Cay Championship, which continues through Saturday; the Green Turtle Cay Championship, May 6-9; the Treasure Cay Championship, May 27-30; and the Boat Harbour Championship, June 10-13.

The championship also can be followed on Facebook.