Gardner Britt Jr. and the Seven team had a hot start on the first day of the 18th annual Virginia Beach Billfish Tournament and kept up the pressure to win the event. With Capt. Jimmy Hardee at the helm of the 62-foot Bayliss, the team released nine white marlin and one sailfish to score 700 points, enough for multiple first-place awards, including top boat, billfish jackpot, high rollers jackpot, the legacy jackpot and dailies, for a payout of $409,500. Seven also garnered a trophy for the top crew and the Wayne McLeskey memorial trophy as the top boat.
Katherine Anne had a strong lead going into the last day but had to settle for second place based on Seven’s late charge. Owner and VBBT director Brad Wachowiak and Capt. Daniel “Backlash” Davis teamed up to score nine white marlin and 630 points to earn second- place honors for boat, billfish high rollers and legacy jackpots, worth $157,050. Justin Wilson was the top overall and top release angler for his seven whites. Chris Perry’s Mama C also made a last-day charge only to come up a little short. The team did win third place overall based on time for its six white and two blue marlin tally. Mama C won $64,800.
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Rounding out the top standings for the week were Bullwinkle, a 57-foot Spencer run by Capt. Daniel Spencer out of Wanchese, North Carolina, which came in fourth place with eight white marlin on the scorecard. The team won $28,350 for the top daily jackpot on the second day of fishing. Builder’s Choice, a 64-foot Jarrett Bay owned by Harris Huddle and captained by Brent Gaskill, was fifth with two blue and four white marlin. In addition to a second-place daily, the boat won the first-day charity mystery fish drawing for an overall payout of $32,400. Meredith Huddle was the top lady angler on Builder’s Choice after releasing two marlin.
“It was another exciting and successful event for our teams and designated charities,” says VBBT tournament director Paula Owen. “Congratulations to Seven for an impressive come-from-behind win!”
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The field of 81 invited boats were competing for $785,250 in overall prize money, setting a new cash record for this event. The fleet released 168 billfish overall, including 145 white marlin, 19 blue marlin, two sailfish and two spearfish during the three days of fishing.