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.
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