MIAMI, US Coast Guard, District 7 — Coast Guard rescue crews assisted the 40-foot fishing vessel Santa Maria, Thursday, Jan. 14, after the crew launched two flares signaling their distress approximately 80 miles southwest of Key West.
The Viking Key West Challenge is truly a wonderful success, bringing together Viking owners, dealers, vendors and their families and friends every spring in a beautiful setting to celebrate the boating and fishing lifestyle.
Regretfully, as a precautionary action in accordance with recommendations of health officials, Viking has decided to cancel this year’s Key West Challenge scheduled for April 15-18.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in response to the coronavirus pandemic has recommended canceling events with 50 or more people for the next eight weeks throughout the U.S. In addition, Florida’s Monroe County and the City of Key West have each declared a State of Emergency.
The health and well-being of everyone involved is our top priority, and we believe in doing our part to bring an end to the spread of the coronavirus.
Viking has rescheduled the event for April 7-10, 2021. Participants and sponsors may use their registrations as credit for next year or be issued a refund. Please contact Viking as to how you would like to proceed.
Viking is determined to make the 7th annual Viking Key West Challenge (VKWC) better than ever! More than just a fishing tournament, the VKWC is four days of food, fishing and fun for members of the Viking family in a relaxed atmosphere that promotes camaraderie and fellowship.
by Alexandra Stark
One of the many charms of the sportfishing lifestyle is the travel to exotic places. By the very nature of the activity, just about every place from which you can catch a marlin or sailfish has a beach. Most also have marinas and a place to grab a bite to eat. For a captain’s wife, the chance to spend a vacation in a place where the boat is fishing can be a wonderful perk.
If you were setting up a travel plan, how could you select a location that combines great fishing with everything necessary for a special trip for your special lady? Get this wrong at your own peril – Ascension Island has world class blue marlin fishing, but how would she feel about “feeding bread to half-wild donkeys” as the headliner of her land-based itinerary? There are also many places with great night life and amenities that don’t hold up the fishing side of the equation.
There are places, however, that play host to great fishing and the types of amenities and activities that make them ideal for captains and their wives. We’ve selected the following locations by asking professional captains and their wives for their recommendations. The following is a profile of a few of the best, with an interview from a professional who describes the ins and outs of each location.
Los Suenos Resort and Marina, Costa Rica
By now everyone in the world has heard of the great billfishing opportunities out of Los Suenos. The world class fishing is matched by a resort that overlooks no detail in providing an incredible atmosphere. It truly boasts of a whole gamut of activity – one that any captain’s wife would certainly enjoy.
Ashley Bretecher, Executive Director of Marketing and Communications has been with Los Sueños for 16 years. When she started it was to help during the high season only. Ashley left for a year to go to school and decided to come back to stay. Los Suenos is now home to Ashley and her daughter. Here is Ashley’s perspective:
- What are some of the reasons most people choose to come to Los Suenos? While the reasons vary between guests, most come because they can enjoy the Costa Rican jungle and Pacific Ocean in 5-star luxury, with superior service and amenities. The marina and our fishery have and continue to be the primary driver of real estate sales, given the blue skies, flat calm waters, and supreme bill fishery. We are also known as a premium inshore fishing destination with plentiful roosterfish, cubera snapper, grouper, and amberjack.
- What about Los Suenos is especially attractive to women? Los Sueños is especially attractive to women because they can enjoy all the same activities that their husbands enjoy, with the benefit of a 5-star resort. There is shopping, medical services, restaurants, chef services, cooking classes, full service spa, golf, fitness facilities, yoga, tennis, beach club, and plenty more. All this in a safe and secure environment. We hear it all the time – they can go out walking or jogging and feel completely safe at all times
Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
Cabo San Lucas is a place full of adventure and wonder. Its desert climate mean lots of sunshine and little rain. The waters surrounding it host a world class striped marlin fishery, with big blues and blacks mixed in. Aside from the fishing, Cabo offers an unmatched quality and diversity of accommodation and activity (dune buggy riding, parasailing, desert camel riding, spa days, drinking margaritas on the beach…you can even take pictures with baby lions!)
Darren “Diz” Carey is the General Manager of IGY’s Marina Cabo San Lucas, the 375-slip marina that plays host to sportfishers and megayachts – up to 380’ – from far and wide. A British ex-pat, Diz offers some wise perspective on what a companion/fishing vacation to Cabo might look like. His perspective is delivered charmingly with an understatement, thoughtfulness and wit.
- What are some of the reasons most people choose to come to Cabo? There are many fishing tournaments in Cabo San Lucas, most notably the Bisbee’s Black and Blue Marlin tournament each October.
- What about Cabo is especially attractive to women? “Cabo is especially attractive to everyone if you ask me. Cabo has it all –
shopping from designer brands to the best fakes – you can buy a $10 Rolex or walk down a little ways and pay $25k for the real thing. There are health spas with a large spectrum of services and pricing, 19 luxurious golf courses, restaurants spanning from taco bars to Michelin star chefs,” Carey says. Carey recommends the organic farm to table restaurant “Flora Farms” for a great meal and a good time. Whale watching and turtle hatchling release are must sees if you are there in the right season. There are also secluded beaches with wild horses are in Cabo, yes, this actually exists and it’s free! Carey reports that there are three stores in the marina that cater to women, even selling the latest in fishing gear.
- What is one thing about Cabo San Lucas that most people do not know? “Though many people are attracted to Cabo for the fishing and the partying, there is also a recent uprise in upscale and high-end restaurants that are getting national acclaim,” Carey reports. Baja has also recently opened its first and only craft brewery, El Toro Baja Brewery. Another surprising fact is that there are many family packages available when visiting Cabo so that the entire family, including the kids can have a wonderful time in this magical place.
The Abaco Islands, Bahamas
There is just so much to do in the Abacos, so many places to go – rent your own boat or grab a ferry and you can do most anything. Everything is right next to each other and you can do something new every day. The main hub is Marsh Harbour, but don’t miss Manowar Cay or Treasure Cay. The most popular spot is Guana where you can join the sportfishing crowd every Sunday at Nipper’s and Grabbers. Visit Pete’s Pub by boat while you’re at it. You can swim with the pigs on Pig Beach in No Name Cay. The blue marlin fishing in the spring time is the high liner. The Abacos feature lots of canyons and bottom topography with plenty of coverage for tournament fleets.
Kevie Thomas, Rooms Division Director, Abaco Beach Resort & Boat Harbour Marina Marsh Harbour, Abaco, The Bahamas.
Kevie is a local and oh so proud of her Bahamian culture. She provides an insider’s perspective on what a trip to the Abacos, a group is islands and barrier cays in the northern Bahamas, might look like. “I was born and raised here, but I would not want to live anywhere else. Abaco is one big family, everyone knows everyone. It’s just a relaxing great place to live.”
- What are the reasons most people choose to come to the Abacos? “People choose to come to Abacos first and foremost because of the warm, friendly, kind and loving people. Abaco is also the destination of choice for the boaters because there is so much you can do. We have some of the best deep sea and bone fishing, diving, snorkeling and best beaches in the world. We are surrounded by little Cays each offering something different to explore. The Abacos are so protected that boating is still possible, even on windy days.”
- What about the Abacos is especially appealing to women? Women like if they do not want to fish on that particular day they can go beaching, island hopping, shopping or visit a very nice restaurant for lunch or just relax by the pool.
- What is one thing about the Abacos that most people do not know? Abaco has so many unexplored natural resources, like the blue holes, one of the amazing wonders of the world and this island is covered with them.
Key West, Florida
Want an island experience without the need for a passport? Key West provides an excellent fishery for everything from sailfish and wahoo to all manner of snapper and grouper exploits. It is also home to a vibrant hospitality scene, complete with a laid-back atmosphere, plenty of options for having a good time and eating something tasty.
Brianna Birtles is the marketing director at Oceans Edge Marina in Key West. “I have been in Key West for six years now, having moved from New York. I was sick of my NY commute and in need of a change. I visited Key West prior to and decided to (do as David Sloane’s book suggests) ‘Quit my job and moved to Key West.’ I had previously worked in both advertising and travel but looked to completely restart and build a career in hotels.” Just 90 miles from Cuba, Key West is the most Southern City in the United States.
- What are the reasons most people choose to come to Key West? People travel to Key West to enjoy the beautiful, surrounding waters, many water activities, fantastic fishing, the vibrant Cuban culture and many musical influences.
- What about Key West is especially appealing to women? “Key West has many female fishing enthusiasts that travel here to Key West for tournaments like: That’s What She Shot. Additionally, women travel to Key West for our beautiful scenery, luxurious spas and resorts and lots of fun on Duval! Key West also has a very close connection to the arts and history.”
- What is one thing about Key West that most people do not know? Key West once declared war with and succeeded from the US. In the 19th century, Key West was one of the country’s most prosperous cities per capita thanks to its numerous shipwreck treasures. Key West is home to the only living coral barrier reef in the continental US. Last, but certainly not least, Key West is NOT known for our beaches. Due to the surrounding reef system we don’t naturally produce beach.
After four legs of hard fought competition, the 2018 Quest for the Crest Sailfish Series wrapped up on April 21st with Final Sail, the grand finale of the series, hosted by Margaritaville Key West Resort & Marina. The festivities began with a kickoff party along the Margaritaville pier featuring live music, open bar and an amazing spread of food.
Heading into the Final Sail, team Free Bird had the lead in the chase for the burgundy jacket with 85 points, followed by Sandman in second with 82 points and Weez in the Keys in third with 76 points. With just one release on Day 1, Free Bird fell behind Sandman and Weez in the Key was able to close the gap.
With no substantial change in conditions on Day 2, teams knew that they would have to make every bite count. Team Sir’ Reel came out swinging with a few releases early to claim the early bite and win the daily for $40,350. Sandman backed their Day 1 performance with another second place daily on Day 2. With less than two hours to go on Day 2 and no releases on the board, the burgundy jacket appeared to be slowly slipping away from Free Bird. Battling a zero-wind condition, Captain Nick Carullo made the call to put away the kites and start chasing floppers. It was a call that paid off. They caught a triple off a flopper before lines out to boost the team into the third place spot for the day. More importantly it brought them back within a 1-point margin of team Sandman for the burgundy jacket and the #1 title. In true championship format, it would all come down to the final day.
In the midst of the battle between Free Bird and Sandman, team BAR South had quietly moved themselves into striking distance for a Final Sail victory, sitting in third place heading into the final day. Day 3 belonged to Captain Art Sapp and the BAR South crew. They got off to a hot start with five releases in the first half of the day and went on to release one more in the afternoon for a total of 11 releases that would be enough to secure the victory and a $136,835 payday! Contender One battled back from a slow Day 2, releasing four fish on Day 3 to claim second place overall in Final Sail and a check totaling $85,125!
Sandman released their first couple of fish on Day 3 and appeared to be on their way to becoming the first 2-time winner of the burgundy jacket. True champions rise to the occasion and that is exactly what team Free Bird did. They answered the call releasing five fish on Day 3 to finish the tournament in fourth place overall with nine releases and season earnings of $224,400. More importantly they sealed their fate as the new #1 sailfishing team in the world with a two-point margin of victory over team Sandman. Free Bird set a new series record scoring 112 points out of a possible 124 in the series. They posted a first place finish and three fourth place finishes, never falling out of the Top 5 in the most competitive billfish tournaments the sport has to offer. Sandman finished the season in second place with total earnings of $312,940 followed by Weez in the Keys in third place with total earnings of $299,150.
Combined payouts across all four legs of the series tallied $2.1 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/