Categorized | Featured, Fishing, Sports

HIBT Day 5: Kona Game Fishing Club – Bellhope takes the crown


Kihachiro and Tetsuzo Suzuki pose for their championship photo with Miss Billfish 2009 Andria DeBina after Friday final day of fishing. (Photo courtesy of Current Events)

Kihachiro and Tetsuzo Suzuki pose for their championship photo with Miss Billfish 2009 Andria DeBina after Friday final day of fishing. (Photo courtesy of Current Events)



Last week the Emperor and Empress of Japan paid an official visit to Kona. This week, Kona Game Fishing Club-Bellhope of Japan captured the Hawaiian International Billfish Tournament (HIBT) championship, beating out Old South Marlin Club #4 by 93 points. 

Third place honors went to Malibu Marlin Club. 

Skunked for the first two of five tournament fishing days, the father-son team Kona Game Fishing Club-Bellhope from Japan roared back mid-week. 

When the final fish count was tallied, angler Kihachiro Suzuki’s week-long catch of five Pacific blue marlin and one ahi (Yellowfin tuna) put them on top of the scoreboard. 

On Wednesday, Suzuki tagged two Pacific blue marlin. 

On Thursday, Suzuki tagged another Pacific Blue marlin plus he boated a Pacific blue marlin that weighed in on Kailua Pier at 332 pounds. 

By the end of HIBT fishing on Friday, Kona Game Fishing Club-Bellhope tagged its final Pacific blue marlin estimated at 150 pounds.  

His complete joy transcended language. Speaking through an interpreter Suzuki said, “This is my second time here at the HIBT. It is so enjoyable. I came to Kona with a feeling that I would win and I am so happy!” 

Team Old South Marlin Club #4 of North Carolina rallied Friday with another tagged Pacific blue marlin, propelling them from fourth to second place. 

Malibu Marlin Club, the team that had held the top spot for three of the five days, finished in third place.  

“We want to extend a heartfelt mahalo to the entire Kona community for the warmth and aloha shared these past fifty years,” HIBT founder Peter Fithian said.


Top Captain


David Bertuleit, captain of the 41-foot Kona Seafari, reeled in the Hawaiian International Billfish Tournament’s coveted Henry Chee Award. 

The perpetual Henry Chee Award was established in 1965 to honor the charter boat captain upon whose vessel the most number of billfish points have been scored at HIBT. 

The award’s namesake, a pioneer marlin fisherman who set an unprecedented number of gamefish catch records, helped establish the Kona coast as a world-famous fishing destination. 

This is Bertuleit’s first Henry Chee Award. 

Anyone who knows Kona fishing knows the Parker name. Bertuleit started fishing for the late George Parker more than 20 years ago and more recently he fished with George’s sons – Randy and Marlin Parker. 

About 10 years ago, Bertuleit earned his captain’s license, took the Kona Seafari out of service for a year and rebuilt it. Since then, Bertuleit has fished nearly every HIBT. This year, he asked another legendary Kona captain, Tioni Judd, to come out of retirement to crew. 

“This was a great tournament because nearly every boat caught fish! But having Tioni fish with me was even better,” Bertuleit said. “It was all about teamwork.”  


About HIBT


The Hawaiian International Billfish Tournament welcomes teams to its 50th golden anniversary along side the State of Hawaii as it celebrates 50 years of statehood! Once again, the world meets here in Kona as enthusiastic anglers gather from around the world to fish these famous waters including Australia, Bermuda, British Isles, Japan, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, South Africa, Tahiti and representing teams from around the US including California, Florida, Hawaii and North Carolina.   

The Hawaiian International Billfish Tournament is underwritten by the generosity of the County of Hawaii and sponsored in part by Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Hawaii, Oceanic Time Warner, KWXX Radio and numerous corporate and community donors. 

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