Sixteen other boats divided the remainder of the $1 million prize purse. Tournament director Capt. Mike Weinhofer reported that the event attracted 71 boats, with anglers releasing 335 sailfish over the three fishing days.
Sandra MacMillan and her team on Sandman, skippered by Capt. Neil Orange of Miami, released 17 sailfish to earn first place and $255,785 in the World Sailfish Championship that ended Saturday, April 16. The World Sailfish is the largest sailfish tournament in the country with a prize purse of more than $1 million up for grabs.
The winning team consisted of Jason Roe, Domie Adames, Robby Waddick, Corey Ryan, Wes Stevens and boat owner MacMillan, who was also named the tournament’s top female angler with seven releases.
Sandman concluded the tournament’s first fishing day, Wednesday, April 13, way back in 28th place, catching just one sailfish on the day. The team kicked into gear the next day, scoring 10 releases and made a huge jump into second place.
After a tournament lay-day on Friday, the team decided to fish near Sand Key Light with sardines and threadfin herring on Saturday. They added six more releases before noon to take the lead, and they never let go of the top spot after that. The action waned, and the crew had to wait out a tense afternoon until fishing ended at 2 p.m.
“That was pretty nerve-wracking because it got good for a couple of boats near the end,” says Neil Orange. “[We were] keeping baits in the water and trying not to listen to the radio chatter about people getting bites.”
The captain said the team’s preparation and commitment to learning the territory played a key role in Sandman’s victory. The team skipped the recent Miami Billfish Tournament to spend several days in the Keys and get in more practice fishing.
Lights Out, captained by Chester Sims, took home second place and $123,870 for releasing 14 sails. Despite leading the field going into the third day of action, Lights Out scored just two releases on Saturday. The team included owner Bill Haugland, Richie Kornahrens, Randy Weichbrodt, Guy Moseley, Carlos Smith, Tyler Morris and Shay Danzig.
Conched Out/Team Sea Hunter rounded out the top three in the field. Led by Capt. Corey McBride, the team released its 12th sail less than 60 seconds before lines-out. Although two other boats also finished with 12 sailfish releases, Conched Out took the third-place spot and $20,830 based on time of the final release. Team members included boat owner Gary McBride, Kevin Crosillat, Steve Fishman, Kurtis Schuttler, Gerrad Weigood and Carl Weigood.
Sandman Wins World Sailfish Tournament