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May 10 2024

FG Tournament in Turks & Caicos - Paradise Found

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For those of you who follow me on Social Media (shameless plug - it will come as no surprise that I harbour strong feelings for Providenciales!

Provo is the most developed of the Turks & Caicos Islands, which are the most South Easterly Islands of the Bahamian Archipelago, directly North of the border between Haiti & The Dominican Republic.

There's a regular flight from Miami, and lucky for me, there is now a direct flight from London - the approach is pretty special, over The Bahamas and some of the most crystal blue waters with stunning cays popping up along the route.

Each customer I have supplied an Invincible for in Provo has opened up with "There's this fishing Tournament, and I take part...." so, in November 2022, when I got an invite to join the Kalypso Team, I bought my plane ticket and took part in one of the most exciting weekends I have had the pleasure of being a part of.

Well - that was last year - today's story is about this year's event.....

Flying in

Boarding at Heathrow the adrenaline kicked in early - my neighbour for the flight asks if I was heading to Nassau or Cayman - "Neither" I say, "I'm heading to Turks and Caicos!" The BA flight makes a stop in Nassau, some passengers depart, some stay on board, a new crew and more passengers board before taking off to Provo.

Next Question comes pretty quick from my new neighbour Michael, who I learn is afraid a flying, "Are you going to do any fishing out there?"

"Yeah I am! I'll be landing and going straight to the Calcutta for the Annual Wine Cellar Golf & Fishing Tournament!"

Instantly I can see Michael relaxing as chat turns to fishing before we've taxied to the runway - he's a captain for a fishing charter out of Nassau and his father Bill is the Mercury dealer there, swapping saltwater tales the 10-hour flight quickly passes us by.



|  There is no final approach quite like - the blues are from a dream!

The Lineup

The Fishing Tournament has a strong turnout this year with 19 boats entered in the Tournament; as you know, I'll be on board Kalypso with the owner and Team, Captained by Bruce Baron, who is a returning member of the team and one of the island's most infamous fishing charter captains.

My next standout favorite is Sundaze which is another Invincible 37' Cat Captainted by her owner Pierre who also owns Carlisle Supplies - a familiar boat in Invincible Marketing material we photoshoot Sundaze for the 37' brochure.

Pierre puts up plenty of merch and prize money for the tournament which is really great to see, not just as a customer but as a friend - the participation from all of the sponsors on the island really help to make it something special.

We can't write about the lineup whilst omitting last year's winners - Apex Predator, owned by locals Phill & Tara Burns we had set our eyes on them as the ones to beat!

The Calcutta Auction

The Fishing tournament kicks off with a Calcutta. Each boat is open to bid on. The goal is to own your own boat, so when you win, you get to keep the winnings. If the bidding gets too fruity for you and someone else buys your boat, the gentlemanly thing to do is to split the bid on your boat with your bidder and split the winnings.

Team Kalypso last year got bid up by Team Sundaze to be the highest bidder on the Calcutta so this year lines were drawn and hands were shook to take it easy on each other.

The Tournament has three qualifying fish. Tuna, Mahi-Mahi (so nice they named it twice) and Wahoo. Given the season, the smart money targets the Wahoo - they're more abundant at this time of year and generally heavier fish - in my opinion, they're the most fun to reel in, they strike hard and can put up a good fight if they manage to go deep on you.

The evening is a great event at Simone's, with plenty of drinks flowing to keep moods high & the bidding loose!

With a record entry, the Calcutta raised a record prize fund of $220,000.

The FGT is a charitable tournament with a percentage going to Charity and the rest to a purse is split among the top three boats.

The drinks and canapes continue to flow, having just landed it's a long day - excited to be back at the event, catch up with friends from the island and of course my team, we're the last to leave!

Day 1 - Rise at 5

My jet lag helps, Ryan has laid out coffee & a breakfast burrito spread, Keith adds a signature hot sauce, both of which get demolished. Down to business.

Ice check

Rods Check

Ballyhoo bait check

Lures check

Team check

Beer check

Rum check

More beer check

Sandwiches - check - thanks, Ryan! 

Lime for beer - sliced,  wrapped and checked - Ryan is the best mom!

We head out towards Leeward Settlement which is at the most Easterly part of Provo & proceed to load Kalypso up at Blue Haven Marina. The marina is on The Cut between Provo and Mango Cay where the shotgun start will go ahead at 7am.

A shotgun start with a big lineup is great fun - the Klaxon sounds on the northside of The Cut and all teams open up the throttle.

Invincible 37' Catamaran Kalypso dominates the Tournament Shotgun Start

|  We are off!

With Tuna, Mahi & Wahoo all qualifying fish for the tournament, The larger sportfishers stick to the northside as to the south of the cut, the depth maxes out between 6 & 10ft for about 50 miles, meaning they'll lose valuable fishing time if they head south before they can start trolling. We, on the other hand, powered by 4 Mercury 300 Verados head south with throttles wide open & Captain Bruce takes a gamble.

Through the cut is a 5 MPH zone past the marina so everyone heading south has to slow down - Bruce takes us around Mango Cay to avoid the zone. His wager pays off - we're first out the cut, flanked by Sundaze and heading southeast for deeper trolling waters.

Are we ahead? I look eagerl

|  Captain Bruce went long and fast... Are we ahead? Yes, we are!

It is a stunning day - blue skies, a light breeze and about a half-foot of chop, perfect for a day's fishing. The excitement is palpable - the fact the Calcutta hit $220K the night before sinks in, which is a serious purse for the tournament.

When we hit our spot, we put the lures out and started trolling. There is a palpable tension in the air as we put out our lines, and the weight of the Calcutta dominates the crew's chatter.

Kalypso Keith, as we like to call him, prides himself on all on board Kalypso having the best time  - this generally involves drinking, in fact, it involves plenty of drinking - beers and rum start flowing at 8am! I'm ever grateful for Ryan's breakfast burrito.

Strikes come quickly on the drag, "Barracuda!" shouts Bruce apathetically. That won't win the Calcutta for us. They're not on the ticket and if you eat them, you'll be ill. We catch and release, wasting little of our lures trolling time.

Fish on. Wahoo. It's early which is great - earlier than last year and we placed well.  Ryan reels in, Valdez at the helm Bruce on the gaff. Bang, hook out and straight in the fish box, Ziggy redeploys the lure & we're away. A quick celebration as the energy lifts on board.

We're hooked up again. Ryan is on the fight, it draws out, the fish has a big fight in them. We're going for 15 minutes - a long one, as we reel them in it goes deep and Ryan starts to dance with the reel, as the boat rises and the tip of the rod straightens he reels. Rise and reels. Rise and reels. Progress is slow and his arms are burning but he plugs away. The anticipation is palpable - we have a big one and the fight is hard. "A hundred pounder - wouldn't that be something...."

Alas, it isn't to be, to an intense chorus of profanity the line breaks as the fish dives deep.

Ryan steps back, I half expect the mood to change given the stakes, everyone shrugs "That's fishing" and it is, there'll always be the one that got away, lures out, off we troll.

Another hit comes quick and I reel in a big wahoo. Immediately my thoughts are about the weigh-in and how much meat I've added to the total.

The Barracuda are biting, not as frequently as last year, we haul in another fish, following Ryan's loss it's great to get it on the gaff but the thought of losing a big fish lingers and what if.

Another fish hooks up, I jump on and it pulls differently - hard out to the starboard side, it doesn't feel like a big fish but has plenty of fight in it, to a chorus of enthusiastic abuse to reel harder I keep pumping away at the reel. As the fish comes closer we see colors reflecting through the water - its a mahi another qualifying fish. I reel it in alongside ready for the gaff and watch the sun make the stunning colors sparkle in the crystal blue waters.

Lunch can't come quick enough. Sub rolls, crisps (chips as my new world crew would say) and burritos - Ryan knocked it out of the park - I needed something to soak up the alcohol.

Early afternoon

It has been slow. It's 1pm, we've drained a handle of rum (it would be a disservice to Keith's commitment to the bottle to not give him the credit here) and we're low on Corona. It's been a couple of hours since the last wahoo. With food in our bellies and plenty of the mood on board is somber, quiet, even a little slow - we didn't download more than a few songs for the playlist so even the beats from the ultimate stereo package had subsided somewhat. Yesterday was a 23hr day from London to Provo and thanks to jet lag I was awake in the night at 3am - I am not ashamed to say I was drifting on Kalypso's extended console lounger.

WHAAAAA the drag hits, I open an eye, good, Ryan jumps on the ree- WHAAAA again I nod to Keith to ta- WHAAAA another reel lights up we've hit a frenzy and the adrenaline hits hard, WHAAAA again! A FOUR BANGER! This is wild, four of us reel like anything, Valdez & Bruce shouting instructions, lines are crossing - it is chaos - I'm panicking that one line will take out another or both, I'm running to the bow rod in my feet slipping and haphazardly reel in whilst trying to find a rod holder.

The first fish comes alongside, Bruce gaffs it bang on the deck, we start reeling tentatively - "Go go go!" a euphoric Bruce yells "We don't want another fish to go deep!" Next fish - gaffed & in, third comes up and Bruce looks unsteady as he wrestles hard to get it in, its big, Bruce heaves and the fish comes in - the gaff is bent almost to 45 degrees! One to go - are we going to land all four? Bruce breathes deep, he looks at the gaff as the fourth wahoo comes alongside, with a wonky gaff to skew his aim and all eyes on the fish it is a tense moment bang its on board! We erupt! Brotherhood, camaraderie it's like the superbowl as we all pile onto Bruce - he has tears in his eye - the energy and celebration is off the charts!

|  By complete chance I had left my Insta 360 taking interval photos - Keith's elated smile at the end says it all

Hooks out and fish in the box as we all come to terms with what has just happened - I'm energised - we've got 30 mins left before we have to head to the weigh-in lures out troll troll troll I yell! We're not just back in the game - we are the game!

Heading Home

We're over 50 miles out and on a strict deadline for the weigh-in - being on the Invincible 37' means we can squeeze every last minute of trolling in before heading back, opening up the throttle and turning home it's a stunning run across idyllic crystal blue waters - the energy is electric with our spirits riding high from the frenzy we had just been through


|  Clockwise from Top Left: Captain Valdez & Captain Bruce shake hands to a good day; The Iconic La Famille Shipwreck; Powering home with Mercury 300 V8 Verados; Team Kalypso finishing day 1 strong.


The Weigh In

We're back pretty early for one of the first on the weigh-in riding on our high. We weigh in at 354Lbs with only two other boats on the dock at Bluehaven - obviously, we're proud of our catch but there are a lot more boats to arrive yet!

I learn the big wahoo I reeled in was 61.5 lbs which I'm super stoked about!


Pierre rolls in with 11 fish! 11 to our 7, from our perception this year is better fishing - we're worried and still no sign of Apex Predator, last year's clear winners.

As each boat offloads and weighs in Apex trails with 280Lbs, Sundaze edging up with 321Lbs and Vision and Balance with 343Lbs come close to us, Team Kalypso stays strong in Pole Position with 354Lbs heading into day 2!

|  Team Kalypso at the weigh-in on Day 1, Keith, Oliver, Captain Valdez the Bear, Ziggy & Ryan - Captain Bruce is somewhere doing a lap of glory!

Day 2 & 3 write-up to follow shortly....

Event Details

A special mention goes out to all of the sponsors

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Oliver Huntsman

Invincible International, Westminster House, Parliament Square, Castletown, Isle of Man IM9 1LA British Isles