In the world of South Florida’s highly competitive tournament sailfishing, one series stands above the rest: the Quest for the Crest Sailfish Series. With its three signature events—Palm Beach’s Operation Sailfish, the three-inlet-format Sailfish Challenge, and Miami’s Final Sail—this one sets the stage for not just individual performances, but also for a team to showcase their consistency throughout the season. It’s entirely possible for a captain and crew to have the hot hand during one event, but to put together a string of top finishes is another level of performance entirely, and one that deserves unique recognition.
One thing that separates these tournaments from the rest is the linear scoring system that emphasizes performance and consistency, pitting teams against each other throughout each leg to determine the ultimate champion. It also has the potential to create dynasty teams, those fortunate to win multiple years while also competing for a purse estimated at $1.7 million this year. However, the most coveted award—the Crest—doesn’t come in the form of a cash prize. It represents the pinnacle of tournament sailfishing, with only the most dominant among an elite field donning the burgundy jacket. Some have achieved the feat once, a handful have done it twice, and an exclusive group has managed to claim victory three times. This year, one team made a strong argument for dynasty status: the husband-and-wife duo of Capt. James and Sarah Cleare and their teammates, Jorge Corzo and Doug Mientkiewicz.
Cleare and his crew made history as the first back-to-back champions of the Quest for the Crest in 2018, when they were victorious fishing with Capt. Greg Newell on Free Bird. In 2019, they tasted victory once again, this time with Capt. Nick Carullo on Showtime. After a challenging 2020, they staged a comeback in 2021, securing another win on Showtime/Remix. Following a hiatus in 2022, they resurfaced in 2023, this time with Cleare at the helm of Remix, capturing their fourth title.
Winning the Quest for the Crest is a challenging task, especially considering the expanded playing field of three legs from Palm Beach to Miami. While a tournament victory may be achieved in just two exceptional days on the water, winning the series requires consistent performance throughout six demanding days.
Entering the Final Sail tournament, Remix was in contention after their ninth-place finish at Operation Sailfish, tallying six sailfish releases, and a triumphant showing in the Sailfish Challenge, recording 15 releases and a first-place finish. Cleare guided anglers William Danko, Corzo, Ryan Alexander, Chris Dillon, Mientkiewicz, Rick Arnold and Sarah Cleare in his home waters in Miami for Final Sail, where they finished in eighth place, another weekend of consistency that was enough to claim his fourth title with 76 series points. Finishing the series in second place was Three R’s with 62 points, and in third was Contender One with 57 points. Weez in the Keys and Mdala rounded out the top five.