After the third leg of the 2020 Los Sueños Signature Triple Crown was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic last year, participants eagerly awaited the start of a new year of competitive fishing in Costa Rica.
One new change for the 2021 season is the Ladies Only Tournament, held on the Tuesday prior to the start of each leg. This year, a familiar name topped the first ladies’ event: Fish Tank, with 20 sailfish releases and 2,000 points. In a down-to-the-wire finish, they were followed by Max Bet with 14 sails and one marlin for 1,900 points, while D.A. Sea was third with 18 sailfish and 1,800 points. In all, 12 teams and 35 ladies released 160 billfish—159 sailfish and just one marlin—in the one-day shootout. The points from each of the three legs of the Ladies Only Tournament series will be tallied to determine the first-, second- and third-place teams, vying for a portion of the $32,500 cash prize.
Immediately following the Ladies Only was Leg One of the 2021 Signature Triple Crown. In a sign of the times, the event began with its first-ever virtual tournament meeting via Zoom on Wednesday night, attended by representatives from each of the 38 participating teams comprised of 182 competing anglers, as well as the captains and observers.
Huntress scored the first release of the series just three minutes after lines in on Day One, and by the 10 a.m. update, 113 billfish had been released—the bite was on. By noon, Grand Slam had taken an early lead over Agitator, with a double at 10:41, a single four minutes later, a fourth at 11:05 and another double at 11:58. Agitator and D.A. Sea battled for second and third. By 2 p.m., a total of 243 billfish releases had been scored—239 sailfish and four marlin—and Grand Slam had widened their gap on the fleet. By lines out, the team was ahead by 1,000 points over Agitator, a significant lead in the Signature Triple Crown and enough for Grand Slam to win the Day One daily with 23 sailfish and one marlin. Agitator had 1,800 points from 18 sailfish and Max Bet was third with 10 sails and a marlin for 1,500 points. For the day there were 320 sails and six marlin released. Notably, Sea Fix released the last fish of the day—a blue marlin—at 4:56 p.m. to catapult themselves from 18th place into fourth.
A few more marlin showed up on Day Two, with Lunatico, Valhalla, Reel Joy and First Light all releasing 500-point fish by 10 a.m. Grand Slam was off to a slow start with just one sailfish, while Team Galati moved up the leaderboard into third place. Bill Royster’s Numero Uno team had a great morning, releasing two marlin within 17 minutes of one another, while steadily tallying sailfish releases to go from last after Day One to eighth overall as the midway point of the tournament approached on Day Two.
At noon, the standings still showed Grand Slam in first with 3,200 points, followed by Sea Fix with 2,500 points, and Goose, now in third with 2,300 points. The battle royale continued throughout the afternoon: Goose moved into second with a doubleheader at 12:37 p.m., but was bumped by Fish Tank with a marlin release at 1:20. Numero Uno moved into third at 2:08 p.m. with a double sailfish release but was bested by a Team Galati marlin release at 3:09 p.m. After all 357 billfish were tallied, Grand Slam continued to lead with 4,500 points (40 sails, one marlin), Goose was now in second place with 3,600 points (36 sails), and Numero Uno—with the strongest comeback in Triple Crown history—in third with 3,000 points (15 sails, three marlin). They were also the top team for Day Two. Could Grand Slam go wire-to-wire?
Day Three would be a nail-biter right down to the call for lines out. Fish Tank released a marlin just after 9 a.m. to jump ahead into second place, then Grand Slam released a marlin to remain firmly in first. The 500-point fish were definitely having an impact on the scoring, and although Fish Tank tried hard to close the gap on the early lead, Grand Slam still finished 700 points ahead, with 5,900 points from 49 sailfish and two marlin releases. Fish Tank finished in second with 22 sails and six marlin, for a three-day total of 5,200 points, and Sea Fix landed in third with 4,700 points after releasing 27 sails and four marlin. After three days on the water, the 38 teams released a total of 1,001 billfish—953 sailfish and 48 marlin —for an average of more than 26 fish per boat for the tournament.