The 2018 Quest for the Crest Sailfish Series wrapped up on April 21, 2018, with Final Sail, the grand finale of the series in Key West, Florida. At stake was not just the tournament’s prize money but the race for the burgundy jackets and the title of Quest for the Crest Champion Team.
Contender One capitalized on the opportunities on Day One and scored the early lead with six sailfish releases. Last year’s Quest for the Crest champions, Sandra MacMillan’s Sandman, got off to a solid start as well with a second place finish on Day One.
Heading into the Final Sail, team Free Bird had the lead in the overall Quest race with 85 points, followed by Sandman in second with 82 points and Weez in the Keys in third with 76 points. With just one release on Day One, Free Bird fell behind Sandman, and Weez in the Keys was able to close the gap as well.
Team Sir Reel came out swinging on Day Two with a few releases early to win the daily for $40,350. Sandman backed their Day One performance with another second place daily on Day Two. With less than two hours to go on Day Two and no releases on the board, the burgundy jacket appeared to be slowly slipping away from Free Bird. Battling a zero-wind condition, Capt. Nick Carullo made the call to put away the kites and start chasing free-jumping sails. It was a call that paid off: They caught a triple off a single free-jumper before lines out to boost the team into the third-place spot for the day. It also brought them back within a one-point margin of Sandman for the burgundy jacket and the title. In true championship format, it would all come down to the final day.
After two days of hard fishing, the Friday lay day led to an epic Duval Street pub crawl, with stops at Margaritaville, Captain Tony’s, Irish Kevin’s and Rick’s Bar. It’s a welcome Key West tradition enjoyed by all the participating teams.
In the midst of the battle between Free Bird and Sandman, team BAR South had quietly moved themselves into striking distance for a Final Sail victory, sitting in third place heading into the final day. Day Three belonged to Capt. Art Sapp and the BAR South crew. They got off to a hot start with five releases in the first half of the day and went on to release one more in the afternoon for a total of 11 releases in the tournament that would be enough to secure the victory and a $136,835 payday. Contender One battled back from a slow Day Two, releasing four fish on Day Three to claim second place overall in Final Sail and a check totaling $85,125.
Sandman released their first couple of fish on Day Three and appeared to be on their way to becoming the first two-time winner of the burgundy jacket. But true champions rise to the occasion and that is exactly what team Free Bird did. They released five sailfish on Day Three to finish the tournament in fourth place overall with nine releases and season earnings of $224,400. More importantly, they sealed their fate as the new Quest for the Crest champions with a two-point margin of victory over Sandman. Free Bird also set a new series record, scoring 112 points out of a possible maximum of 124 in the series. Sandman finished the season in second place with total earnings of $312,940, followed by Weez in the Keys in third place with total earnings of $299,150.
In the Final Sail angler category, Amanda Sabin from Contender One earned the Top Female Angler trophy and the Master Angler title with five releases. Rob Gothier Jr. from BAR South was the top male angler with four releases. Sarah Melia made history as the first female to claim the Master Angler title in the Quest for the Crest Series with 16 releases for the season.
Team FFMD weighed a 32-pound blackfin tuna that turned out to be the heaviest tuna and heaviest fish weighed in the Big Fish Bonanza, which earned the team a bonus check for $8,650. But FFMD‘s good fortune didn’t end there. In a grand prize drawing at the conclusion of the awards party, FFMD won a three-year lease on a new Dodge Ram truck, courtesy of Joey Accardi Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram of Pompano Beach, Florida.
Combined payouts across all four legs of the 2018 Quest for the Crest Sailfish Series tallied $2.1 million dollars.