After taking its lay day on the opening of the 18th annual Virginia Beach Billfish Tournament, Team Seven stormed onto the leaderboard on Day Two and finished off its run Saturday by jumping into first place – winning the event with 10 billfish caught and released.
Team Seven banked $409,500 for the win.
Seven bumped two-day leader Katherine Anne into second place with nine billfish. Katherine Anne – captained by Backlash Davis – had fished its two allotted days and sat at the dock Saturday to see if its lead held. Team Katherine Anne was awarded $157,050.
But Seven – captained by Jimmy Hardee – released five white marlin Saturday to go with the sailfish and four whites caught Friday to sneak into the winner’s position. The team also won the Top Crew and Wayne McLeskey Memorial Top Boat awards.
The tournament featured 81 teams battling for a total purse of $785,250.
Mama C, captained by Rob Mahoney, finished third with eight billfish – edging Bullwinkle and Capt. Dan Spencer (also eight billfish) on time of catch. The finish was good for $64,800.
All totaled, the fleet caught 168 billfish that included 19 blue marlin, two sailfish, two spearfish and 145 white marlin. All fish were released.
Only 14 gamefish were caught. Among them were Dolphin Division winner Chancellor Price with a 22.5-pounder caught on the Tuna Teaser with Capt. Ashley Cross. Thomas Bennet won the Tune Division with a 74.2-pounder caught on the Cotton Picker, captained by Geno Sauers. Paul Michael Jr. caught the only wahoo to win that division with a 22.8-pounder on the Evelyn Kennedy, captained by Kevin Pancake. Each gamefish winner took home $13,5000
Justin Wilson fished on the Katherine Anne and was named the top overall and top release angler with seven billfish.
Meredith Huddle was named the Top Lady Angler with two billfish caught on the Builder’s Choice with Captain Brent Gaskill.
And Brayden McMullan was named the Top Junior Angler for his 7.1-pound dolphin caught on the Wall Hanger with Capt. Brian Allen.
Tom Farella – working on the Mama C – was given the Joel Webb Memorial Top Mate award.
Lastly, I have to thank Julie Brakhage of “Tournament Control, The Competitive Advantage” for her work with the VBBT and the Pirate’s Cove Billfish Tournament. She is, hands down, the most efficient and best tournament score keeper on the planet. Her hard work at the end of each day its the kind of effort guys like me cherish. If every tournament used her to keep score, my life would be a dream.