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Representing 16 different nations, a record fleet of 94 boats and 553 anglers descended upon the central Pacific Costa Rican community of Quepos for the seventh annual Pelagic Rockstar Offshore Tournament, which also offered the largest prize purse of any event in Central America at $1.3 million. With a hot bite underway just offshore, the participants were treated to an exceptionally exciting and action-packed weekend of fishing, live music, food, and fun.
By the call for lines out on Day One, Capt. Ben Horning and Team Galati/Fish Tank held down first place with 25 sailfish and 2,500 points. Clay Time was second with 2,400 points, and NsatiaBill was third with 2,100 points. Meanwhile, Capt. Lance Hightower and his team on Vaquero, the winners of last year’s Rockstar, managed to tally just 11 sailfish releases on the first day, but also scored a pair of blue marlin releases for angler Kristina Warshauer. Vaquero would land in eighth place, but as the event unfolded, those two marlin would become crucial in the final standings.
Lady anglers took center stage in this event, with several proving an enormous difference in their team’s overall standings. By the end of the tournament, lady anglers would hold three of the top 10 angling positions, including the top overall angler.
The second day of the two-day tournament started much like the first, with the radio alive with billfish release calls. In fact, not even a full minute went by at any time during the tournament without a billfish release. As the day wore on, the top eight teams jockeyed for position and traded places several times, battling it out until the very end. With time running short just before lines out at 4 p.m., Team Galati/Fish Tank held a slim margin at the top of the leaderboard.
Then, with less than one minute remaining, the defending champions on Vaquero rallied with a quadruple sailfish hookup, getting in the call and confirmation prior to the lines out call. The team released all four fish, moving from eighth place into second. Those last-minute heroics came with a check for $251,300.
When the final video reviews had been submitted and approved, Team Galati/Fish Tank and their 42 sailfish releases were in first place with 4,200 points. It was an accomplishment worthy of the $303,940 in prize money. Vaquero scored second with 3,900 points, and the team aboard Game Plan rounded out the top three with 3,800 points.
The gamefish weigh-in took on a whole new meaning this year, thanks to Marina Pez Vela’s new tournament policy and community outreach efforts. This year, the Pelagic Rockstar was proud to partner with Brujas Del Mar—Witches of the Sea—a group of entrepreneurial women who saw a need to provide work for other women and their families who had lost their jobs due to the pandemic and other economic factors. These women provided a team of expert fish cleaning and processing professionals, made up of the husbands and brothers of the group’s founders, to fillet, bag, and dispose of all the carcasses of the fish harvested during the tournament. The participants were very generous and donated more than 300 whole fish to this effort. This generosity and willingness to contribute helped to feed more than 400 families. The fish were provided to an orphanage, a homeless shelter and to a group that helps those suffering from food insecurities. In addition, every single employee of Marina Pez Vela went home with bags of fresh fish to feed their families.
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Congratulations to Adriana Finkelstein from Miss Behavin for her 14 sailfish and two blue marlin releases for 2,000 points, earning her top angler and top lady angler honors. She is the second female to win as top overall angler in the event’s history. Jonah Smith from Southern Pride repeated as the top junior angler this year with 20 sailfish releases and 2,000 points. He fell just short of the overall angler honors by time of release. The fleet tallied a total of 1,131 billfish—1,048 sailfish, 78 blue marlin, three black marlin and two striped marlin— in two days of competition.