Following through on the theme from the entire season, the Sailfish Pro Series came to a fast-paced and action-packed ending that, once again, featured one team biting its fingernails as another fought multiple fish.
By the time the final gun sounded all Team Advanced Roofing could do was breathe a huge sigh of relief as they watched Team Get Lit release the last of a quadruple header about 10 minutes before lines out. When the fourth fish was released and Get Lit couldn’t hook up again, the Sailfish Pro Series title was Advanced Roofing’s to keep.
Both teams finished the day with six releases, but Advanced Roofing took home the title based on the fact it released its last fish first.
“That’s the hardest I’ve seen this crew work in years,” said Advanced Roofing Capt., Jeff Scott. “There were a lot of people rooting for us. It was a great way to end the season.”
The series finale took place out of Miami Beach; featuring the top six boats from the season standings, plus one wildcard winner, team Lights Out. The two-day, head-to-head, elimination-style tournament pitted six teams against each other, with Advanced Roofing receiving the bye and automatic entry into the Final Four.
However, even with the bye Advanced Roofing hit the water. “We got the bye, which was much needed, but we decided to go out anyway and fish along with the rest of the teams,” Scott said. “We were doing some research and learning some things, but it was raining and pretty bad weather.”
Despite entering the first day trailing by half a fish to the higher seeded team, underdogs Get Lit and Blue Time both managed to advance to the final showdown. Sandman won its head-to-head battle 10.5 to 6, beating Lights Out.
When dawn broke on the final day, the weather had deteriorated and getting out of Government Cut (inlet) was a challenge in itself. For Advanced Roofing, a 39-foot SeaVee and by far the smallest boat fishing in the finale, it took some tactical planning just to clear the inlet.
“We got all ready, put on our new rain gear, went out that morning and I just followed the biggest, heaviest boat I could find. And that was Blue Time,” Scott said of the 68-foot Viking that offered protection from the waves. “I figured, at that point, we were probably fishing wherever they went the rest of the day. It was pretty rough.”
Scott estimated the waves to be 12 feet as they were setting up for fishing. In fact, it was so bad that, about 10 minutes before lines in, tournament president Chris King polled the four teams as to whether they wanted to continue with the day. The consensus was they would fish until 1 p.m. and declare a winner.
Advanced Roofing wasted no time, releasing the first fish of the day from a flat line. Scott considered putting the kite baits out but there was an approaching storm, so the team fished flat lines for the first couple hours. They released three more fish between 9:30 and 9:45 to take the lead.
Sandman, which beat Advanced Roofing in the World Sailfish Championship on time of release, jumped out to a 5-4 lead on their rival and led Get Lit 5-1 by 10:15. But that turned out to be Sandman’s last fish as they finished third.
Advanced Roofing scored fish No. 6 at 11:30 and felt safe with their score – until Get Lit got the quad right at the end of the day.
“I was sitting next to them and I wanted to make a run back and do another drift, but there was only about 20 minutes left and it was taking that long to, literally, go a quarter mile, so we stayed where we were,” Scott said.
All they could do was watch as Get Lit carefully released all four fish and then failed to hook another as time expired.
“Luckily enough, it was just enough to tie us, not beat us,” Scott said.
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