A Work of Art Wins 2023 Blue Marlin Grand Championship

A hard-fought second victory in Orange Beach, Alabama
A sport-fishing team of 10 pose and celebrate in front of two marlin metalwork statues that are spouting flame.
A Work of Art‘s big win in the 2023 Blue Marlin Grand Championship. Courtesy Blue Marlin Grand Championship

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The Blue Marlin Grand Championship debuted July 2012 at The Wharf in Orange Beach, Alabama, and quickly became one of those must-fish events on the highly competitive Gulf of Mexico tournament circuit. Today, it’s perhaps best known for the ­weigh-ins, complete with jumbotron monitors and fire-breathing marlin sculptures. That first year, Art Favre’s A Work of Art team won the inaugural event with Kevin Courville in the chair for the first-place blue marlin, which weighed 665.4 pounds. Eleven years later to the exact day, Courville found himself in familiar territory, once again hooked up to a potential tournament winner.

This year, 57 teams entered to compete for nearly $1.6 million in cash, and were rewarded with a hot blue marlin bite in the upper Gulf. In fact, three teams boated fish above the tournament minimum of 110 inches in the first half-day, and all headed back to The Wharf in time for a Friday-morning weigh-in. The 2023 event was off to a fast start.

Metal Masher, a 72-foot Viking from Orange Beach, Alabama, was the first to weigh, with their 114-inch blue headed for the scales. Teddy Tinney’s fish was 490.4 pounds and momentarily atop the leaderboard. The next fish was from Bird Dog, a 65-foot Ritchie Howell from Destin, Florida, with a blue measuring 117 inches; Parker Cotton’s fish was 582.6 pounds. Intense, a 44-foot Contender from Mobile, Alabama, weighed the third blue of the day, a 114.5-inch fish of 503.2 pounds that put angler/owner Neal Foster’s team in second place.

On Saturday, the highlights of the weigh-in were from Mae, a 65-foot Blackwell from Panama City, Florida, with a big move into second place when Drew Marshall’s 120-inch blue marlin checked in at 512.6 pounds. But it was as if the fishing gods had saved the best for last. The team on Favre’s 92-foot Viking, A Work of Art, captained by Jason Buck, had boated a 597.4-pound blue marlin; as the weight was announced to the huge crowd of spectators, the celebrations began in earnest. Favre and his team had made history and were now the first two-time champions of the event.

“So much has changed here at The Wharf in the past 11 years since we first won this tournament,” Farve said at the awards ­presentation. “But what hasn’t changed is the spirit of competition at this event. There are so many great captains and crews that you have to compete against to win here, and we feel very fortunate to be back here at Marlin Circle celebrating tonight.”

A sport-fishing team of 11 stand together and pose, while the center crew holds up a large trophy.
Team Supreme was the top catch-and-release boat with six blue marlin releases. Courtesy Gulf Coast Triple Crown

Team Supreme, a 72-foot Viking from Destin, was the top catch-and-release boat with six blue marlin releases, which also clinched the title of 2023 Gulf Coast Triple Crown champions for owner Allen Krake and Capt. Chase Lake. Incredibly, eight teams fishing the Blue Marlin Grand Championship had more points in the Triple Crown race, so they knew they would need an epic weekend to have a chance at the trophy.

After not catching a fish on the first ­afternoon of the tournament, Team Supreme had one of those days that Krake says he and the crew will never forget. Angler Alex Krake caught six blue marlin over the next nine hours, releasing five and boating a ­113-inch fish that weighed 475.4 pounds. The five releases moved Team Supreme into the lead for the top catch-and-release team, with one day of fishing remaining. Adding another blue marlin release by Krake on Saturday morning—a total of six for the tournament—cemented the win in the catch-and-release division as well as in the Gulf Coast Triple Crown race, where they finished 100 points ahead of their nearest competitors.

“I’ve been fortunate to fish all over the world,” Allen Krake said. “The captains and crews on the northern Gulf are the best of the best. To win the Triple Crown against the competition we face in every tournament is what makes this such a special accomplishment.”

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“To win the Gulf Coast Triple Crown and be recognized as the top team among your peers is why we, as captains and crews, do this,” Lake said. “To celebrate with our entire team, where every member has a job to do, and each job is just as important as the next. Everyone on the boat constantly works their tails off to give ourselves a chance to get the most bites and catch the most fish, and this is the payoff for all that hard work.”

For the tournament, there were a total of 42 blue marlin caught, along with two white marlin and one sailfish.

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