Man-e-War Tops Viking Key West Challenge

The event highlights hot fishing in the Florida Keys

The Man-e-War team, victorious in Key West.Courtesy Viking Yacht Company

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.

Capt. Ben Sharpe led Man-e-War to the big win.Courtesy Viking Yacht Company

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.

MDALA finished second among the fleet of 40 participating Viking yachts.Courtesy Viking Yacht Company
Viking President and CEO Pat Healey presents the tournament's top angler trophy to MDALA's Erich Pfeifer.Courtesy Viking Yacht Company
Nicole Ely on Irish Twin was the top lady angler.Courtesy Viking Yacht Company
A sailfish release for the junior anglers on Sarah K.Courtesy Viking Yacht Company
Matthew Vatland was the top junior angler with three sailfish releases on Sarah K.Courtesy Viking Yacht Company
A Viking on the prowl for sailfish.Courtesy Viking Yacht Company
The fleet departs from Key West in the morning.Courtesy Viking Yacht Company
A happy junior angler.Courtesy Viking Yacht Company
A tower offers a great vantage point for this captain.Courtesy Viking Yacht Company
The event hosted several dock parties and other social events.Courtesy Viking Yacht Company
Pat Healey from Viking offers encouragement to the teams as they return in the afternoon.Courtesy Viking Yacht Company
The juniors had a great time fishing from the docks in Key West.Courtesy Viking Yacht Company
Pat Healey and his daughter Kaitlyn.Courtesy Viking Yacht Company
A pirate-themed party was a crowd-pleaser.Courtesy Viking Yacht Company
A pirate drowns his fishing kite off Key West while on the hunt for sailfish.Courtesy Viking Yacht Company
Release!Courtesy Viking Yacht Company
A pair of Viking Enclosed Bridge boats.Courtesy Viking Yacht Company
Waiting for the fleet to return.Courtesy Viking Yacht Company
A young Viking fan.Courtesy Viking Yacht Company
The docks were lined with beautiful boats from the New Gretna, New Jersey, builder.Courtesy Viking Yacht Company