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Wave Paver takes top spot in 2021 Pirate’s Cove Billfish Tournament

By Capt. Dave Lear

The action during the 38th annual Pirate’s Cove Billfish Tournament wasn’t quite up to the usual pace associated with this event. But that didn’t stop Wave Paver from claiming victory over the other 98 competitors and capturing the biggest share of the more than $1.2 million in overall prize money. The 77’ Bayliss released 11 billfish, worth 1,250 points, during three days of fishing. Wave Paver is owned by JR Davis, with Capt. Russell Sinclair at the helm. Doug Southworth and Garett Van Orman are the mates. The boat is based in Port Canaveral, Florida.

Wave Paver swept first-place categories for top boat, overall points, Day 1 billfish daily and jackpot, plus the new winner-take-all jackpot for total winnings of $429,747. Davis was named the top angler of the week with six releases to his credit.

Mama C (Virginia Beach), a 60’ Bayliss owned by Chris Perry and run by Capt. Rob Mahoney, was the second-place boat overall. The team, with Tommy Farella and Donnie Todd working the “pit,” released five marlin, including three verified blues, for 950 points and $302,677 in prize money (first-place blue marlin and Day 2 jackpots).

Uno Mas made a late run on Friday to move into third place in the final standings. The 77’ Mark Willis, owned and run by Capt. Brooks Smith (Ocho Rios), scored six fish, good for 900 points and $160,400 in winnings. In addition to the overall score, Uno Mas also won second-place blue marlin, two dailies and the lay day tournament. Maria Smith earned top lady angler recognition for her five marlin releases. Sean Gallagher and Jeremy Cerdes are the mates.

Tarheel (62’ Bayliss/Capt. John Bayliss) and Trophy Hunter (55’ Buddy Cannady/Capt. Kenneth Brown) won fourth and fifth place top boat trophies, respectively. Tarheel had seven fish, while Trophy Hunter released eight. Blue marlin that were verified by video confirmation scored an additional 150 points and that difference was a major factor in several scores.

PCBT pays out on multiple levels, so there were several teams collecting prize money Friday night at the Pirate’s Cove Marina Pavilion. Sandra D (58’ Hudson/Capt. Tom Krauss), Diamond Girl (68’ Weaver Boat Works/Capt. Max Weaver), Ann Warrick (76’ Paul Mann/Capt. Brad Diaz) and Drifter (57’ Buddy Cannady/Capt. Will Howell) all won $5,000 checks for releasing the first fish of each day.

Other daily billfish jackpot winners were Accordingly IV (76’ Viking/ Capt. Peter Dubose), Skirt Chaser (54’ Buddy Cannady/Capt. Barry Daniels) and Builder’s Choice (64’ Jarrett Bay/Capt. Brent Gaskill). The top daily prize was $41,947, while second-place was worth $17,977.

Steve Ash Jr., fishing on Carolina Girl (54’ Hatteras/Capt. Jordy Croswait), boated the heaviest wahoo of the week at 59.7 pounds. Zac Ludwin on Papa-Mac (33’ Blackfin/Capt. John McCormick), scored a 34.1-pound bull to take the top dolphin and Frank Adams on Anne Warrick outlasted a 223.3-pound bigeye for a convincing tuna win. The game fish winners each earned $26,916.

Brown Gaddy, fishing with his father Capt. Fin Gaddy aboard Qualifier (57’ Paul Mann), was named the Top Junior Angler for the week with his billfish release.

A total of 252 billfish were let go overall, including 228 white marlin, 19 blues, four sailfish and one spearfish. Fifty-seven game fish came to the scales, including 40 yellowfin tuna.

“My goal when I returned to the Pirate’s Cove Billfish Tournament was to get the purse back over one million dollars to make it a world-class event again and we did that,” said tournament director Heather Maxwell. “Thanks to all our teams for participating, our wonderful sponsors, including Willis Yachts, and my great staff and volunteers. We look forward to seeing everyone again next year.”

The 39th Annual Pirate’s Cove Billfish Tournament will be held August 15-19, 2022.

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