by Bob Wonders
For the second year in succession, ‘Sandman’ has held off 52 other boats to win the Bass Pro Shops’ 2012 World Sailfish Championships held off the fabulous Florida Keys.
'Sandman' and 'Sweet Release', two tough competitors during the 2012 World Sailfish Championships. - world sailfish champs
Despite the tournament being called off on Sunday last due to rising seas and worsening weather conditions, the ‘Sandman’ crew share $316, 917 in prize money for winning the event.
‘Sandman’, led by Captain Scott Leon, with owner Sandra MacMillan on board with crew Kyle Sherman, of Fort Lauderdale, Domie Adames, of Miami and Rob Waddick, Cory Ryan and Wes Stevens, all of Pompano Beach, finished the tournament with 34 releases.
It was a very close affair for the ‘Sandman’ team; based on the time of release, ‘Sandman’ was able to hold off ‘Advanced Roofing’, which also finished with 34 releases.
‘Team 4 Aces’ made a late charge for victory, releasing five fish in just 42 minutes and eventually claimed third spot.
‘Sandman’ skipper Scott Leon, who only joined the team midway through the season, said the crew 'worked really hard for its success.'
'I can’t put it into words, the win just feels great, incredible, everyone aboard worked for this win,' he added.
The victory also marked two World Sailfish Championships for the skipper, who led ‘Rock Star’ to the title in 2008.
‘Sandman’ owner Sandra MacMillan also had cause for a double celebration being named Top Female Angler for the second straight year.
She released 12 fish during the tournament, shading Sarah Hoog-White who had eight releases for the tournament fishing from ‘Sweet Release’.
The Florida Keys and the immediate Key West waters lived up to the reputation as being one of the world’s premiere billfish regions.
A ‘hot field’ of 53 boats hooked a record 630 fish despite the Saturday being limited to just 42 minutes of fishing when heavy storms raced across Key West and lightning knocked out the tournament communications.
Overall, the event wound up with 652 fish tagged and released.
It was achieving a good start to the tournament that helped ‘Sandman’ to the ultimate victory.
The crew triumphed on the two opening days, with 20 fish on day one and 14 the next day before heading into the lay day on Friday.
'We knew a good start was critical as we could anticipate the possibility of bad weather limiting fishing later in the tournament,' Scott Leon explained.
‘Sandman’ was lying in 13th place in the Sailfish Pro Series standings prior to the tournament; the win gives the crew an automatic qualifying position in the season-ending tournament to be staged off Miami Beach next month.
The Sailfish Pro Series Championship tournament will feature the top seven teams fishing in a head-to-head, elimination-style tournament to determine the winner.
World Sailfish Championships website