World Sailfish Championship tournament newcomer, team Barefoot, entered day two in second place behind team Lights Out, but managed to top the 76-team field of over 600 high-profile anglers by securing three releases by 10am towards the end of the 3-day tournament. The event, considered the Super Bowl of fishing, was held in Key West April 13-17.
Team Barefoot, on the 55' Viking sport fishing yacht with MTU 1200's, owned by Jim and Eve Sullivan of Fort Lauderdale, captained by Kris McKenney of Fort Lauderdale along with anglers including Chad Moss and Justin Lord of Fort Lauderdale; Dan Walsh of Cooper City; Brian Cone of the Lower Keys and mate Jeff Izanec of Fort Lauderdale, released 24 sails and brought home the prestigious Iona Irish crystal trophy and $170,427.50 in winnings from the tournament purse of over $1 million dollars. The most important award taken away by Team Barefoot is a year's worth of bragging rights after winning the world's most high-profile fishing event.
"The World Sailfish Championship is one of the most outstanding professional tournaments and we were extremely, extremely impressed with everything from the opening ceremony and events to the captain's meeting and angler relations," said Eve Sullivan, owner of Barefoot and World Sailfish Championship winner. "It's taken me 24 years of hard fishing to accomplish something so great and I praise everyone that was involved in making it happen."
Team Lights Out, owned by Bill Haugland of New York City and captained by Chester Sims of Key Largo, secured second place with 23 releases; bringing home a total of $175,198.00 in tournament winnings while also winning the charity division. Other anglers include Guy Moseley of Key Largo, and Randy Weichbrodt and Richie Kornahrens of Long Island, N.Y.
Team Cracker, owned by Chris Schultz of Oviedo, captained by Scott Walker of Duck Key, secured third place with 21 releases; bringing home a total of $66,857.00 in tournament winnings. Other anglers include Captain Bill Wiatt of Conch Key, Paul Ritli and Jim Hukill of Duck Key and Zack Barber of Orlando.
Team Which Way, owned by Robert Southard Jr. of Hollywood, won the tournament's non-professional 3-star division with eight releases; bringing home a total of $24,570.00 in tournament winnings.
High School sophomore Nicole Portuondo, of Miami took the top spot in the women's and junior divisions with six releases. The 16-year-old fished with Team SeaHunter which included her father, Ernesto Portuondo of Miami.
"A total of 491 sailfish were released during three fishing days, with a record 265 sailfish released on the first day," said World Sailfish Tournament Director Michael Weinhofer. "The amount of sailfish released on that first day is the best one-day performance since our tournament began in 2003."
Each April the highly anticipated World Sailfish Championship attracts thousands of followers to Key West. World Sailfish Championship sponsors and world-class anglers spent five days in Key West attending private parties, social events, live concerts and mingling with celebrities, sports stars and politicians. Each attendee enjoyed the VIP hospitality area with a nightly open bar, gourmet food, and private parties.
Governor Charlie Crist came to the event in support of the tournaments worthy causes. As an angler himself, Governor Crist shows his support to the anglers that make Florida such a destination for the sport. This year, over $100,000.00 was raised by the tournament host committee.
The event hosted by Executive Adventures, serves not only as one of the country's most high-profile fishing tournaments, but also as a networking venue for companies and organizations that read like a Who's Who of the Fortune 500. In attendance were a host of elite anglers, Corporate CEO's and Executives and celebrities such as Coach Don Shula, Wade Boggs, Captain Norm Isaacs, "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan, Johnny Bench, Stu Apte, and more.
"I'd like to thank the anglers and sponsors who continue to make this event one of the most successful of its kind," said Chris King, Chairman of the World Fishing Tour. "We sincerely appreciate the turnout and support we get from those who make this event possible."