Located at the very tip of the Florida Keys, Key West holds a special place in the heart of any bluewater enthusiast, but doubly so for those in the high-stakes Quest for the Crest tournament series. This four-event circuit highlights the best in the sport of competitive sailfishing. With big money on the line, every bite is critical.
Going into Final Sail, the final event in the 2017 series, Sandra MacMillan’s Sandman team had a slim lead over Team Sailsmen/Advanced Roofing, Contender One and Miss Britt/Contender for the Quest for the Crest title and the coveted burgundy jackets. After Day One, Sandman, led by Capt. John Louie Dudas, had released five sails to further solidify their position as the lead dog in the race. Meanwhile, Old No. 7, captained by Jamie Ralph, took the top daily prize with nine sails released.
Day Two saw the 2015 Quest for the Crest champion team on BAR South having a banner day with 12 releases and the daily win, with three other boats releasing 10 sailfish each. Final Sail was destined to come down to the last hour. A much-needed lay day gave everyone a chance to relax and enjoy a tournament-hosted pub crawl on world-famous Duval Street before the action resumed.
And although the action was hot and hectic in the final hours, Old No. 7 proved to be a tough competitor, winning its first Quest event with a total of 23 sailfish released over three days and earning $219,675 in prize money along the way. BAR South held on to finish in second place with 22 sails released, good for $137,725. Sandman landed in third with 21 sailfish released and nearly $80,000 in cash but it was more than enough to secure their spot as the top team in the Quest for the Crest series. They finished in the top 10 in each of the four tournaments, capping an incredibly consistent season.
In the angler standings, Stephanie Choate from Miss Britt/Contender swept the top lady angler division in each of the four tournament legs. Carl Lindner on Seraphim was the top male angler at Final Sail with 13 releases.
Combined payouts across all four legs of the Quest for the Crest series totaled a whopping $2.5 million dollars. The fleet of 34 boats released 404 sailfish during the three days of Final Sail, further cementing Key West’s notoriety as an outstanding tournament location.
Keep scrolling for a photo gallery from this year’s Final Sail tournament.