At this year’s Lucas Oil Offshore World Championship, held April 15-20, 2018, at Marina Pez Vela in Quepos, Costa Rica, some of the world’s best anglers fished for a shot at the most exclusive title in international tournament fishing. But of the 51 elite teams in the competition, only one could be crowned 2018 Offshore World Champions. This year the title went to Team Torneio Marlin do Rio de Janeiro (Brazil). In fact, the top-four finishing teams all won qualifying events in their home country of Brazil. Team Torneio de Pesca de Santo Andre (Brazil) completed the first day of tournament competition in first place with 1,200 points from six sailfish, but the event was far from over at that point. Day Two saw the Team Torneio Marlin do Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) make their move to the leaderboard, a top spot they maintained on Day Three as well, releasing seven sailfish and a blue marlin plus boating a 55-pound mahimahi. Victory was especially sweet for anglers Matheus Assad, Elias Houaiss, Mateus Marques, Helio Marques and Carlos Assad. Last year, their team came in second place to fellow Brazilians, Team Torneio de Peixes de Bico. As 2018 champions, Team Rio de Janeiro received coveted OWC champion rings by VanMark Jewelry Designers and the opportunity to apply for the Offshore World Championship for many years to come. Of the 11 Brazilian teams competing in the tournament, seven finished in the top ten. Team Torneio De Peixes De Bico followed in second place. Anglers Nilo Cottini Filho, Luis Roberto Teixeira Soares, Gustavo Pustiglione Santos and Nilo Cottini Neto each received a gold VanMark pendant and a one-year extension to compete in the 2019 championship. Team Torneio De Peixe De Oceano, composed of Leonardo Bochner, Eliseu Soares Neto, Pedro Salema Von Bertrand, Fernando Almeida Neto and Joao Victor Lopes Zanur, had clutch third and fourth days of fishing to jump into third place overall. The top angler award was presented to angler Juan Cabrera Pena of Team XXV Torneo De Pesca De Aturo Puerto Calero (Spain). Pena released two blue marlin and eight Pacific sailfish, plus weighed in a 49.6-pound dolphin, for a total of 2,649.60 points. Anglers Elisangela Pina (XIV Billfish Challenge, Angola), Miro Vrlja (Kup Grada Hvara, Croatia), Nilo Cottini Filho (Torneio De Peixes De Bico, Brazil), Matheus Assad (Torneio Marlin do Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) and Sam Worden (2011 Offshore World Champions, U.S.) followed in second through sixth place, respectively. The world-class boats and crews of Costa Rica led the Offshore World Championship teams to success all week. Captain Michael Alligood and his crew on Epic earned the top prize in their category for assisting with the release of 15 sailfish, one blue marlin and 55.7-pound dorado for 3555.7 points in three days. Only the top three days are scored for fishing captains and crews, because not all charter boats fish all four days. Alligood also won top captain in the 2013 Offshore World Championship.
Throughout the tournament, 240 anglers from 30 countries released and video-verified 328 sailfish, 23 blue marlin, and one black marlin for a total of 352 billfish overall. This year’s billfish numbers are a boost compared to last year’s total of 254 billfish released.
The tournament came to a close April 20 with food, drinks and live entertainment at an awards gala at Marina Pez Vela. Winners were presented with King Sailfish trophies, VanMark Jewelry pieces and prizes from industry-leading companies and sponsors.