by Bob Wonders
The 68’ (20.72-metres) Viking convertible, ‘Blue Time’, skippered by Captain Bill Wieteha has led the fleet home to claim the prestigious Bill France Jnr. Memorial Trophy in the Sailfish Cup off Miami Beach.
A magnificenrt sail shows its athleticismoff Miami during the Sailfish Cup. - Sailfish Pro Series
A first day total of 12 releases enabled ‘Blue Time’ to withstand a slow second day of fishing and confirm a well-deserved victory.
The Sailfish Cup is a component of the Sailfish Pro Series and is in effect the season opener for the World Fishing Tour season.
At tournament close, ‘Blue Time’, with 13 releases, easily outdistanced second-place getter ‘Reely Tight’ (six releases) with three teams, ‘Sea Hunter’, Rock Star and ‘Kimbuktu/IGX’ sharing third place all with five releases.
Hot acton in the cockpit - no place for the faint-hearted. - Sailfish Pro Series
The win earned the crew of ‘Blue Time’ $114,330 of the total $400,000 purse.
A major contributor to the ‘Blue Time’ victory was Lisa Leon who, with six releases to her credit, was named Top Lady Angler for the tournament.
‘Blue Time’ skipper Capt. John Wieteha said the tournament 'went about as good as it could have gone.'
'Really it was awesome, tis is my second year with this boat, but the first tournament with this team and we did very well indeed,' he added.
'Heading out for day two with a six-fish lead was comforting, but we knew the tournament was far form over.
'We headed to the same area, hooked up quite early, got the release and another hook up 45 minutes later.
'Then the ‘bite’ completely shut off, we could see conditions were deteriorating, but we did not want to leave that spot, so we sat it out for a while,' he explained.
'Blue Time', a 68' Viking and a very happy crew. - Sailfish Pro Series
A couple of other boats moved south of ‘Blue Time’ and reported some action, prompting Capt Wieteha to follow, but it proved worthless; the success the team enjoyed on day one proved enough to claim overall victory.
Conditions were reportedly 'less than favourable' for sailfish with the wind out of the south-east at 10-15mph (16-24km/hr).
The dolphin bite was off the charts making it difficult for anglers to keep their baits in the water long enough for the sailfish to get to them.
Bait of choice included mackerel and herring.
As it eventuated, ‘Blue Time’ had the right combination of bait, angling skill and attitude to double their nearest competitor’s total.
The Sailfish Cup concluded with a gala evening and award presentation at the popular Miami function centre Jungle Island.
The Blue Time crew with $114,000 reasons to be smiling. - Sailfish Pro Series
NASCAR driver and avid angler Jeff Burton was on hand to acknowledge the Sailfish Cup’s effort in raising more than $115,000 for the NASCAR Foundation; the foundation supports a number of charities, this particular effort was devoted to the Neonatal Unit at the Homestead Hospital.
‘Blue Time’ now sits comfortable in the lead of the Sailfish Pro Series with 103 points; ‘Reely Tight’ holds second place with 85 points followed by ‘Sea Hunter’ (79), ‘Rock Star’ (73) and ‘Asian Pearl’ (67).
Next event on the calendar will be the Sailfish Open scheduled for West Palm Beach, February 1-3, 2012.
For further information visit the website, www.SailfishSeries.com