Whenever you have an event coordinated by ladies for ladies, you know it’s not only going to wow, but be classy, fun and most of all, awe-inspiring: Some women fear the fire, others simply become it.
The elegant captains meeting began at nightfall, complete with twinkling lights and a photo booth where teams had the opportunity to show off not only their alter-egos, but also their love and support of one another.
Amid a sea of pink, tournament director Sam Mumford laid down the law in regard to the competition’s rules, but gave her words of encouragement that rivaled all others:
“So many people from across the globe will be cheering for you — from near and far — watching you; seeing how this takes off. These three days we created are for you. To focus, get away from your crazy life distractions, connect with the outdoors and your friends. This is the most adventurous, talented, bold[est] group of women that I believe, have ever been in one location, in one place, in the world.”
The fleet was greeted on Day One with Mumford personally delivering good luck mimosas to prepare them for the almost 50-mile run to the bite. As watchers from 18 different countries followed the leaderboard, Kelly Nutt, fishing aboard Kelly Dawn, started the almost non-stop action at 8:13 a.m., with the rest of the fleet releasing — and tagging — billfish after billfish. After 241 sailfish and two marlin releases, Day One closed out with the ladies on Uno Mas taking the daily for an astonishing 28 releases.
Day Two was poised to be even better when 42 billfish were released in the first hour of competition. At 8:07 a.m., Game Plan was on the rise as Shari Burrows released the first fish of the day. Team Thunder, fishing aboard Marina Pez Pela’s own Caribsea released a grand slam, adding to the 274 billfish released on Day Two.
After receiving an ice-cold, lavender-scented towel on their return, the ladies retired to prepare for a beautiful, all-white pool-side awards dinner held rooftop, overlooking Marina Pez Vela, complete with — you guessed it… hand massages and more champagne!
The white party anxiously gathered to see history made, as the committee prepared to crown the world’s top lady anglers: The first-place team, Uno Mas with a total of 49 billfish released; second-place Big Oh, with a total 44 releases; and third overall, Game Plan — whose team consisted of three members who had never fished before — with 40. The smallest boat of the fleet, Good Day, took home the largest tuna honor, and The King and I captured the largest dorado with a 52.9-pound bruiser.
Uno Mas‘ Maria Magalhaes was name top IGFA female angler of the tournament, releasing 14 of her 25 fish by IGFA-stated rules, and Lacey Ivancevic, fishing aboard Pelagic Magic was the top female releasing the most billfish by hook and hand. Each of the ladies received an oh-so-appropriate Gray Taxidermy pink Pescadora trophy for their efforts.
Kristina Fahmie was presented with a full-size sailfish mount — presented by GFT’s program director, Bill Dobbelaer — for releasing the most tagged billfish of the tournament for Team Shoe. The tournament tagged the most billfish ever in two days using the green, international multi-species fish-tagging model by Gray FishTag. GFR is a non-profit organization which uses the largest network of fishing professionals, consisting of approximately 10,000 charter captains and mates.
As the evening’s formal events came to a close, an emotional Mumford could not leave the stage without thanking her marketing partners for their support and thanking what she called, “the Pescadora tournament dream team.”
“I am so grateful to all the women for taking a chance on this first, one-of-a-kind tournament. The hard work and dedication that each angler showed was inspiring — not only to me, but to women around the world,” she said.
The Pescadora Billfish Championship released a total of 512 billfish in two days and tagged close to 200 of them in the name of research.