The third leg of the Quest for the Crest, Sailfish Challenge, makes its way back to Fort Lauderdale for its 15th year and has teams fired up for big payouts and their next chance to gain points towards a series win. The purse is expected to be higher than it’s ever been, estimated to reach over $625,000, coupled with a winner-take-all optional entry category called the Release Round Up.
The Release Round Up has rolled over from the second leg in the series, Sailfish 400, and is estimated to pay out $250,000 to one winner. This hefty jackpot has teams fired up at the chance to take home more money than has ever been paid out in a single category in the six year history of the Quest series. The Round Up has four rounds of fishing that spread evenly over the two-day competition. A random number between one and six is drawn at the start of each round and represents the minimum number of sailfish a team must release during that round in order to advance to the next. Whichever team makes it through all four rounds wins the pot!
With a 3-inlet format, teams have the challenge of choosing to fish out of Lake Worth Inlet, Hillsboro Inlet or Government Cut during the Sailfish Challenge. The combination of three inlets and a large boundary allows teams to capitalize on every opportunity to find the fish and cash in big. Last year, team Miss Britt/Contender did exactly that. They fished out of Hillsboro Inlet and released 16 sails on their way to victory and a $174,310 payday!
Another side bet has teams fired up for this year’s tournament and it has nothing to do with sailfish releases! The Big Fish Bonanza is always a go-to choice for competing teams and is based on the heaviest qualifying meat fish of the tournament. Last year, team Outnumbered took home over $16,000 for weighing in a 44.5lb kingfish. Qualifying fish include: dolphin, wahoo, kingfish, cobia and tuna.
There’s also a Non-Pro Division that is only featured during this third leg of the Quest. In order to qualify for this category teams cannot have anyone on board that has earned any part of their living as a full-time or part-time fishing captain, guide or mate in South Florida within the past 10 years. There can also not be anyone on board that has placed in the top eight of a Quest for the Crest tournament within the past 10 years. Team REHAB beat out the other Non-Pro teams to take the top title and some extra cash during last year’s Sailfish Challenge.
Final registration for the Sailfish Challenge is Wednesday, February 21st at the kickoff party, where you can come by boat to the host location at Blue Moon Fish Company in Fort Lauderdale. Competition days are Friday, February 23rd and Saturday, February 24th. The awards ceremony returns to Blue Moon on Sunday, February 25th where the top team of the tournament will be served a delicious VIP meal fit for a king. For more information on the Sailfish Challenge, visit www.sailfishchallenge.com or call (954) 725-4010.
The grand finale of the Quest for the Crest, Final Sail, takes place April 17th – 21st in sunny Key West, FL at the Margaritaville Resort & Marina where a world champion will be crowned. For current series standings, visit http://www.bluewatermovements.com/quest_for_the_crest_point_standings/