Palm Beach, FL – The 56th Annual Buccaneer Cup Sailfish Tournament was held January 23 to 26, 2019 in the Palm Beaches. This year an additional fishing day was added to the format giving teams the choice to fish any two. With two days of near ideal conditions, and a much-anticipated bite pushing into the area from the north, teams were rewarded with steady fishing. After the entire field of top competition teams took a lay day on Thursday, all 39 boats hustled to release 180 sailfish on Friday and Saturday, The prize, a purse in excess of $352,000, the prestigious and beautiful Buccaneer Cup trophies for the top three boats and anglers, and bragging rights for placing in one of the oldest and most enduring billfish tournaments in the world. Add to that the knowledge that the tournament proceeds benefit the Recreational Fishing Alliance and The Billfish Foundation, there was a lot at stake.
Day Two opened with grey skies, light east winds and a strong bite with 14 sails being released within the first hour. Martha D called in the first release of the tournament just 17 minutes after lines in at 8 AM. The live baiters seemed to have the edge as Old No. 7, and De-Bait-Able took an early lead, but dead baiters Polarizer and Krazy Salts also made runs to claim the top spot for the day and the Calcutta dailies. By lines out, Old No. 7 racked up 10 releases on live bait for 2,000 points, followed closely by De-Bait-Able just 200 points off the leader. The top dead baiters filled out the leader board with Polarizer and Krazy Salts in the 3rd and 4th spots aided by a late bite that saw six releases in the final 30 minutes of fishing before lines out at 3:30.
Day Three saw a drop in the wind and accompanying slowdown in the action, but the live baiters continued to push their advantage. Based on radio chatter, fishing was best in a small area to the north of Jupiter Inlet. De-Bait-Able, with Capt. KJ Zeher at the helm, put on an astonishing clinic the final day amassing a total of 4,200 points by lines out bringing their two-day total up to 21 sailfish releases and leaving the competition in their wake.
Tournament staff utilized Reel Time Apps for accurate, up-to-the-minute scoring that was available to teams and tournament enthusiasts by simply downloading the free app. The program was linked to the official radio room computer scoring team and updated minute-by-minute allowing teams to follow the leader board throughout each fishing day. At tournament’s end the radio logs were matched against the boat’s catch logs and Reel Time Apps and then verified by video confirmation.
The winning boats were De-Bait-Able on top, Old No. 7 securing second place, with Sandman just 200 points behind in third. The competition was a nail biter between the top boats and was capped by a great run by Wrapped-Up breaking out of the pack in the final hour of the tournament trying valiantly to catch the leaders. In addition to several Calcutta categories, Old No. 7 also won the Charity Calcutta which includes an entry fee to the 2019 Buc Cup. They have been a regular in the tournament the past few years and no doubt the crew will be back next year trying to top their second-place finish.