The 2015 Custom Shootout was held May 13-16, 2015 out of Abaco Beach Resort and Marina, Bahamas. Fifty-two custom built sportfishing yachts entered teams in the 14th annual fund-raising tournament.
There were 85 billfish released (25 Blue Marlin, 30 White Marlin, and 30 Sailfish) during the three days of fishing. ‘VINTAGE,’ a 54’ MARK WILLIS, captured the overall title in the 2015 Custom Shootout by catching two Blue Marlin and one White Marlin.
Abaco Beach Resort and Marina was an awesome host, once again, as they hosted the Kickoff party, the Friday night Honor the Boat Builder party, and also the Saturday night Awards Party. Florida Detroit Diesel-Allison, Sunset Marina, SatCom, Dex Imaging Media, HMY Yacht Sales, XL Insurance, and Smith-Merritt Insurance were Platinum Sponsors for the tournament. Other sponsors present were COSTA, CAT Marine Power, CAT Pantropic, CAT Gregory Poole, CAT Ring Power, MAN, Dometic, Downey Yacht Sales, Alexseal, Tournament Yacht Sales, Pipewelders, Treasure Coast Propeller, Diamond Fishing Products, Phasor, Palm Beach Towers, Shimano, Blue Water Chairs, Ocean Club and many others who offered financial support for the tournament.
The most builders ever attended the event. Among the custom builders attending and supporting the tournament were Mark Willis, Randy Ramsey, John Whiticar, Michael Rybovich, Paul Spencer, Roy Merritt, Dominick LaCombe, Peter Landeweer, Rich Scheffer, Jr., John Vance, John Bayliss, and Paul Mann.
Once again, the fishing was great, the weather was gorgeous, the food was fantastic, and the staff at the Abaco Beach Resort did an exceptional job. Combine that with these custom boat owners and their crews and they had one of the best tournaments in the world again this year.
A stunning awards banquet was held in the air-conditioned tent at the Abaco Beach Resort and Marina. CAPTAIN SKIP SMITH, the Tournament Director, along with TINA CHURCH, and JEN COPELAND, gave commemorative plaques to each tournament sponsor in recognition for their support of the event.
The ‘VINTAGE’ team consisted of anglers TONY HUERTA and CHRIS BERKLEY as they accepted the 1ST Place trophy, a beautiful sculpture by Ken Ulberg. Top Captain and Crew on the ‘VINTAGE’ consisted of CAPTAIN K.P. and crew GEOFF QUATRARRO and NEWT CAGLE. The ‘REEL PUSHY’ (70’ Spencer) with owner/angler ROBERT BAKER along with anglers JIMMY FIELDS and DENNY DOYLE, and CAPTAIN CHRIS WORKMON placed second as they released one Blue Marlin, a White Marlin, and a Sailfish along with the three day grand slam bonus points. ‘SWEET THING’ (58’ Merritt) with owner/angler KEITH BEATY and CAPTAIN MIKE MURRAY took third place with two Blue Marlin and two Sailfish.
TONY HUERTA, of ‘VINTAGE,’ won the Top Angler trophy, a Kent Ullberg Marlin sculpture. LAURA RUSSELL on the ‘HIT-n-RUN’ won the Cheryl Roy Memorial trophy, as the Top Woman Angler with one Blue Marlin and one White Marlin release. ‘MARLIN DARLIN’ took home the Top Tag & Release award with two tagged fish. There was also three Sat-Tags for the IGFA Great Marlin Race placed during the tournament by ‘PLANE SIMPLE,’ ‘SOUL CANDY’ and ‘SWEET THING.’
MARK WILLIS MARINE, winner of the 2015 Custom Shootout trophy, received the perpetual Custom Shootout Trophy, a beautiful custom Carey Chen glass sculpture that is now on display in the library at the IGFA. There is a new perpetual Custom Shootout trophy with all the past winners, top anglers and Captains, on display in the lobby of the Abaco Beach Resort.
The tournament is scheduled again for next year: May 11-14, 2016