The team fishing from Mollie, a 66-foot G&S captained by Jeff Shoults of Destin, Florida, won the prestigious Gulf Coast Triple Crown Championship series, clinching the title after the Blue Marlin Grand Championship in Orange Beach, Alabama.
Eric Hayles and Chance Young are the two mates working the cockpit of the charter boat based along Florida’s Emerald Coast. It’s the first time in the seven-year history of the series that a charter boat has won it all. Mollie had a different set of anglers for each event.
“It is a little more difficult dealing with different teams each tournament,” Shoults said during the awards presentation. “But my crew makes it easy by explaining what’s going on and keeping everything together. We worked hard this season and I’m confident we’re going to win some more money in future tournaments. But at this point in our careers, it’s very gratifying to win this trophy and to be recognized among our peers.”
The Gulf Coast Triple Crown Championship includes five events: the Orange Beach Billfish Classic; the Cajun Canyons Billfish Classic; the Mississippi Gulf Coast Billfish Classic; the Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic; and the Blue Marlin Grand Championship.
The Triple Crown is scored on a hybrid system that includes both weight and release points for the top three finishes in the blue marlin divisions of each tournament. Teams can earn bonus points for series participation, weighed marlin and tournament marlin records. The winning team receives the championship trophy, which is 7 feet tall and valued at $18,000.
To win the trophy, Mollie finished second in the Mississippi Gulf Coast Billfish Classic with a 654.2-pound blue marlin; they were also the top release boat with four more blues. The team also earned bonus points for fishing the circuit and length allowances, for a total of 410 points.
Lyon's Pride, a 62-foot Viking owned by Bob Lyons, with Capt. Daniel Menard and mates Robert Eliason and Kendall Sauls, finished second with 350 points.