The crew of Just Do It got it done in Saturday’s finale of the Yamaha/Contender Miami Billfish Tournament, releasing 24 sailfish in two days to top a fleet of 31 boats and take home nearly $54,000 in cash.
With 18 releases in Friday’s opener, Just Do It — owned by Roger Ward of Miami Beach — held what seemed like a comfortable five-fish lead over second-place Game Face. But captain Brett Dudas said the win nearly slipped away when the team found itself with only one release for most of Saturday, allowing Miss Britt II to overtake them. But Just Do It rebounded, releasing five sails in the 1 1/2 hours before lines-out — two more than Miss Britt II, the runner-up with 22, good for $9,440.
Qualifier, owned and skippered by captain Terry Claus, was third with 18 releases — including one blue marlin — worth $8,525. Claus’ son, captain Trey Claus, was the tournament’s top angler, releasing nine sails and the marlin.
Rounding out the top five were fourth-place No Problem with 18 sails ($2,000) and fifth-place/top outboard Game Face with 13, earning $14,910.
For Just Do It, Saturday marked its second major billfish tournament victory of the season — the team finished first in the Mayor’s Cup — and the first overall Miami Billfish win for Dudas as skipper since 1984.
“A long time coming,” Dudas said. “It feels awesome.”
The fleet was joined on Miami Beach’s coastal waters Saturday by 32 more teams competing in the one-day outboard challenge. The five-member crew of Hairraiser handily won with seven sailfish releases, earning $7,250. Knot Liable finished second with four.
In the funfish category, the largest dolphin weighed in two days was Counter Culture’s 23-pounder, caught by angler Sam Alsop. No Problem’s Ken Fedele caught the largest tuna — a 19.30-pound blackfin. Eric Berman on Ms. Lola caught a 35-pound kingfish and Jason Robinson on Reel Control weighed a 36.5-pound wahoo.
In total, the fleet of 63 boats racked up 308 sailfish and two blue marlin releases.