Sailfishing teams arrived at Margaritaville Key West Resort & Marina on April 25th in search of a great bite and a great time during Final Sail, the grand finale of the 4-leg Quest for the Crest Sailfish Series. The tournament did not disappoint.
With an $868,000 purse up for grabs and a world champion title on the line, the stakes were high. Heading into Final Sail, team Sandman held the lead in the chase for the burgundy jacket with 79 points, generated from a 3rd, 7th and 4th place finish in the first three legs of the series. Team Sailsmen/Advanced Roofing was hot on their heels in 2nd with 71 points followed by Contender One and Miss Britt/Contender each with 69 points.
On the dawn of Day 1, Captain John Dudas let the fleet know that team Sandman came to play when they jumped out to a hot start winning the early bite with five releases. As the day progressed, Captain Jamie Ralph and his Old No. 7 team found the fish and capitalized on nine releases to take the late bite and the Day 1 daily for a $67,200 payout. Sandman finished the day with eight releases in 2nd place and a $33,120 payday. A total of 121 fish were released on Day 1.
Heading into Day 2, the wind picked up out of the southeast and the bite picked up with it. Silent Hunter found the fish early releasing eight sails before noon. The afternoon belonged to 2015 Quest champions, BAR South. They released eight fish between 12 p.m. and 4 p.m. and a total of 12 releases for the day to win the $67,200 daily. Three other boats, HellReyzer, Silent Hunter and Family Matters, also posted double digits with 10 releases each. Team Seraphim grabbed the lead on the big fish scoreboard when they weighed a hefty 47.8-pound dolphin at the tournament scale on Day 2. The big mahi turned out to be the heaviest dolphin of the tourney earning the team a bonus $1,500 payout. A total of 159 fish were released on Day 2.
After two hard days of fishing, a much needed lay day provided a fun opportunity for teams to let loose and enjoy the Key West night life during a pub crawl along the world famous Duval Street. With the lay day shenanigans behind them, only one day remained for teams to capitalize on the opportunity to close out the season on a high note.
At the start of Day 3, BAR South held the lead with 18 releases followed by Old No. 7 and Lights Out in 2nd and 3rd with 16 releases each. Old No. 7 caught three sails by 9:15 a.m. to take the lead over BAR South. Shortly after, BAR South answered with a double to jump back into the lead with 20 releases. The lead didn’t last long. Minutes later, Captain Jamie Ralph called in two more releases to push Old No. 7 back to the top of the leader board with a total of 22 releases. In the midst of the battle for first and second, Sandman jumped in the mix releasing six fish by 12:34 p.m. to move into 3rd place with 21 releases and striking distance with 90 minutes of fishing left in the tournament.
Contender One, contenders for the burgundy jacket, got hot on Day 3 and released eight fish to grab the 1st place daily and bump themselves into 7th place overall for the tournament and runners up for the jacket with 93 points. They also finished strong in the earnings column with a $97,720 payout at Final Sail and over $191,000 in earnings for the season. Team De-Bait-Able took 2nd on Day 3, just behind Contender One on time with eight releases and a check for $49,400.
Despite BAR South’s best effort, Old No. 7 would simply not be denied of their first ever victory on the Quest for the Crest trail. They finished the tournament with 23 releases and total winnings of $219,675! BAR South finished in 2nd place overall with 22 releases and took home a check for $137,725. That payout also pushed the team’s net earnings to more than $1,000,000 in the Quest series. A total of 124 fish were released on Day 3.
Sandman finished the tournament in 3rd place overall with 21 releases and $79,470 in prize money. More importantly, it secured their position as the #1 sailfishing team in the world and recipients of the Quest for the Crest burgundy jackets. They join an elite fleet of teams that have been able to conquer one of the most difficult feats in competitive billfishing today and they did it in record style. Under the leadership of Captain John Dudas, Sandman never placed outside of the top 10 in all four legs of the series. They became the first team ever to break the 100-point threshold with a grand tally of 107 points for the season. To put things in perspective, a perfect score (1st place in all 4 tournaments) would equate to a score of 121.
In the angler category, Stephanie Choate from Miss Britt/Contender made history by becoming the first angler to sweep a category in all four legs of the series. She was the Top Female Angler in each tournament with a Master Angler title in Leg 3 as well. Carl Lindner of team Seraphim took the Top Male Angler with 13 releases and edged Stephanie out of the Master Angler title at Final Sail based on time. Seraphim’s big dolphin held on to the big fish lead on Day 3 until Reel Rodeo pulled up to the dock and dropped a 64.2-pound wahoo on the scale to steal the $13,650 pot in the Big Fish Bonanza.
Combined payouts across all four legs of the series tallied $2.5 million dollars. For a complete list of results for Final Sail visit: https://www.bluewatermovements.com/final_sail_results/
For a complete list of the standings from the Quest for the Crest, visit: https://www.bluewatermovements.com/quest_for_the_crest_point_standings/