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Free Bird Sets New Series Record! BAR South Wins Final Sail!

April 25, 2018

After four legs of hard fought competition, the 2018 Quest for the Crest Sailfish Series wrapped up on April 21stwith 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.  

Despite a favorable forecast of east wind, the absence of current made for tough fishing conditions on Day 1 of the tournament.  Contender One capitalized on the opportunities that were presented to them and managed to take the early bite and late bite along with the first place daily with six releases that earned them a Day 1 check for $41,100.  Last year’s Quest for the Crest champions, team Sandman, got off to a solid start as well with a second place finish on Day 1.

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. 

After two days of hard fishing, only one thing could cure what was ailing the teams.  The remedy?  An epic pub crawl on Duval Street!  With stops at Margaritaville, Captain Tony’s, Irish Kevin’s and Rick’s Bar, the Friday lay day gave teams the opportunity to recover and refocus for the final competition day of the season.

In the midst of the battle between Free Bird and Sandman, teamBAR 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. Sandmanfinished 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.

In the angler category, Amanda Sabin from ContenderOne earned the Top Female Angler trophy and the Master Angler title with five releases.  Rob Gothier from team BAR South was the top male angler with four releases.  Sarah Melia made history as the first female to claim the Master Angler title in the Quest for the Crest Series with 16 releases for the season.  Team FFMD weighed a 32-pound blackfin tuna that turned out to be the heaviest tuna and heaviest fish weighed in the Big Fish Bonanza, which earned the team a bonus check for $8,650.  But, FFMD’sgood fortune didn’t end there.  In a grand prize drawing at the conclusion of the awards party, team FFMD won a 3-year lease on a brand new RAM 1500 quad cab truck courtesy of Joey Accardi Chrysler Dodge Jeep RAM of Pompano Beach!

Combined payouts across all four legs of the series tallied $2.1 million dollars. For a complete list of results for Final Sail visit:  

For a complete list of the standings from the Quest for the Crest, visit:

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