Winning a prestigious tournament can be the highlight of any captain’s career, but to win one three years in a row represents an incredible feat, especially when the competition is tougher than ever. But thanks to some hot fishing and a steady hand at the helm, Capt. Ben Sharpe led the Man-e-War team to a three-peat in the 2017 Viking Key West Challenge, held April 5 to 8, 2017, in Key West, Florida.
Day One of fishing saw Capt. John Hagen on MDALA take an early lead, releasing 12 sailfish. Man-e-War was second with nine but in the hunt, and the rest of the 40-boat fleet was hot on the fish. A lay day gave everyone a chance to relax, see the sights and party a little before the final day’s action, which saw Man-e-War releasing another 13 sailfish to win with a total of 22 releases. MDALA finished second with a total of 14 sailfish releases, while Blue Time was third with 13 releases. MDALA’s Erich Pfeifer was the top angler of the tournament with 9 sailfish releases, and Nicole Ely was the top lady with eight releases on Irish Twin. The junior anglers on Sarah K swept the youth honors: Matthew Vatland was first with three sailfish releases, while Logan and Jacob Young finished in second and third place, also with three releases each.
The 40-boat fleet released a total of 214 sailfish in two days. In addition to great fishing, the Viking Key West Challenge hosted a poker run, pirate-themed dock party, a kid’s dock fishing tournament and more.