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Kona Angler Mike Vidal Wins World Billfish Series

The following is a press release from the World Billfish Series:

December 9, 1999
Contact: Robin Forti Anderson
World Billfish Series
Phone: 888.492.4WBS (4927)

Kona Angler crowned WBS World Champion of Billfishing™

Palm Beach Shores, Florida - Mike Vidal, from Kailua-Kona, Hawaii traveled the farthest to Sailfish Marina and Resort in Palm Beach Shores, Florida to compete for the coveted WBS World Champion of Billfishing™ title and it proved worth his while. Vidal, a  retiree and fishing charter operator in Kona, caught and released a sailfish on each day of the two-day WBS Grand Championship Tournament for the win.  Both fish were caught on dead bait (worth 150 points each), and his total angling time was an impressive four minutes. Vidal was fishing on the 57' Viking, Lost Texan, along with his teammate, WBS angler Bob Brack, from Kirlkand, Washington.

"My year has just been fabulous. It started in July at a tournament in Hawaii where I caught a 974-pound blue marlin. The WBS event was right after that. I finished second in the light tackle and first in the heavy tackle tourneys and second in the tag and release division. I won two other tournaments, came in second in another, and then I came here, just wanting to compete with all these other great anglers. And here I am. It's been a year that's going to be very hard for me to ever top," Vidal said at the awards banquet.

Philip Luelsdorff, of Forestville, Maryland, was first runner-up in the Championship standings. Luelsdorff also caught two sails on dead bait and his angling time totaled four minutes as well. But his last fish was caught late in the afternoon on Day 2; Vidal's second fish was caught earlier in the day.  Luelsdorff fished with fellow WBS competitor Jim Fakler, Jr.on Gandy Dancer.  Dixie Snellgrove, of Pensacola, Florida, was second runner-up. She had a two-fish, dead bait tally with angling time equaling five minutes.

Snellgrove's charterboat, Abbey Road, won the top boat award with four sailfish releases thanks to help from her Ghost Angler, Jamie Fuller, also from Pensacola.  Shane McMahon, from Missoula, Montana, was the top individual angler with four sailfish releases, but all were caught on live bait. Live bait-caught fish were worth 50 points each, so even though he caught the most fish, McMahon didn't place in the final standings.

Twenty-two WBS anglers competed in the Grand Championship aboard 17 boats. A total of 20 sailfish were released, including 16 on Day 1 and 4 on Day 2. The Grand Championship was covered live on the internet at by Total Sports, and two shows were filmed by ESPN's Big Game Fishing the World with Capt. Norm Isaacs, due to air Summer, 2000.  "I think this sport is going to surpass any other sport that's out there," Vidal predicted. "That's because everyone, including the average angler, can enjoy it. You don't have to have any special physical aptitude and you don't have to be rich. Anyone can participate. I think the sport's going to be much bigger than we can ever fathom." The World Billfish Series is the only global competitive fishing circuit in existence. It was started more than eight years ago by WBS President Wayne Bisbee of Newport Beach, California, and has grown every year since its inception.  "I'd like to thank our anglers first and foremost, as they're the reason for the Series," said Robin Forti Anderson, WBS Director of Development, "And all of our sponsors for making everything possible. I also need to thank the media for telling the world about the Series and for educating a whole new generation of anglers for the coming years."

The Millennium edition of the World Billfish Series gets underway in short order. The 63rd annual Silver Sailfish Derby in Palm Beach begins Thursday, January 6, 2000.

1999 WBS Grand Championship Tournament Participants:

Jack Rayborn, Mobile, AL
Parke Berolzheimer, Stockton, CA
Scott Lund, Wellington, FL
Joseph S. Knecht, Ponte Vedra, FL
Dixie Snellgrove, Pensacola, FL
Alexis Jacobs, Columbus, OH
Mike Vidal, Kailua-Kona, HI
Kerri Burrus, New Orleans, LA
Jim Sullivan, Braintree, MA
Jim Fakler, Jr., Chevy Chase, MD
Philip Luelsdorff, Forestville, MD
Scott R. Steele, Catonsville, MD
George Vink, Duluth, MN
Shane McMahon, Missoula, MT
Karl Knudsen, Raleigh, NC
Robert H. Sauls, Raleigh, NC
Gary Roth, Westbury, NY
Smyth McKissick, Greenville, SC
Brian Bell, Orangeburg, SC
Terrell Rhye, Charleston, SC
Donald J. Smith, Seabrook Island, SC
Bob Brack, Kirkland, WA

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