The Guy Harvey Ultimate Shark Challenge machine was running on all cylinders and performed extremely well on its first run. The level of teamwork and professional execution between anglers, teams, observers, chase and intercept vessels, researchers, production crew, tournament and Guy Harvey personnel, location host facilities, all the support staff and press and media exceeded our expectations. Our sincere thanks and gratitude to all our sponsors and everyone who supported and believed in this event.
Back Row: Houston Thomas, Sean Rice, David McQuade, Thomas Burt, Richard Procezyn, Zac Gerzeny, Wayne Nichols, Jimmy Willis. Front Row: Howard Chappel, Walter Munoz, Jay Withers, Mike Manis, Bill Deluna, Joe Miller, Bucky Dennis, Randy Perry. Down in front, L-R: Tournament Directors: Captain Robert Moore, Brooks Paxton II, Sean Paxton.
There's a lot more to see and read below, but first, a quick recap of the team standings and who's headed to the championship. Our hats off to every single angler and team for their participation, hard work, and for putting on one heck of a show out there!
The day has finally arrived ...
Nikki Lev, the tournament's mascot (a rare half-french bull dog and half-land shark mix) made her first public appearance at this weekend's kickoff festivities.
All anglers, including Team Peter's Restaurant (Jimmy Willis & Bucky Dennis pictured left) conducted their pre-competition interviews for the cameras before the opening ceremonies Friday night.
The Burnt Store Anglers Club and the Burnt Store Golf & Activity Club hosted the opening ceremony with a themed event, perfectly suited for the tournament.
The GH-USC Directors and Staff extend their sincere appreciation and gratitude for the red carpet treatment extended by our gracious hosts to all in attendance over the entire weekend.
Nearly 100 people were there to enjoy the moment with us. Bob Hueter of Mote Marine Laboratory took the podium during the opening statements, along with Tournament Directors: Sean Paxton, Brooks Paxton II, Robert Moore and Jay Lev of the Burnt Store Anglers and Burnt Store Golf & Activity Clubs.
All anglers, teams, observers and research personnel were recognized during the ceremony, along with tournament sponsors, the host location - Burnt Store Marina, and all the support staff and volunteers.
Tournament Director & Associate Producer, Captain Robert Moore, preps certified observers before assigning them their team boats on the first day of competition.
The Joy Sea III, piloted by Phil Giaramita, next to Captain Robert Moore top right, and manned by Todd Mattis, Bob Lund, Marv Bergman and Bob Corwin served as the tournament communications vessel over the two days of fishing on Saturday and Sunday.
This 32 foot Offshore 'Andros Boatworks' took on the all-important dual task of high-speed research intercept vessel and camera chase boat. It was captained by Andy Eggebrecht, President of Andros Boatworks who delivered this critical personnel on time to points around the tournament boundaries at speeds nearing 60 miles per hour, despite windy and rough conditions. The 600 horsepower ride was nicknamed 'Space Mountain' by the end of fishing on Saturday by all of us on board.
Teams lining up for the shotgun start at 7:30 am, just outside the Burnt Store Channel.
Tournament Director, Captain Robert Moore, had the honor of delivering the radio countdown ... 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 ... Let the games begin!
Teams and observers off to the fishing grounds.
Brooks Paxton II (left) and Bob Hueter (right) waiting for a bite report.
Satellite tags locked and loaded.
The Peer Gynt 26 foot Guy Harvey Series boat, piloted by Joseph Ierna Jr, President of Peer Gynt, was on site and in the action over the weekend. A lot of attendees took advantage of a chance to win this boat, as part of a special fund-raising raffle benefitting the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation. Dave Chafin (front) of Guy Harvey and Southern Latitudes was also on site all weekend. Special thanks to him and Peer Gynt for their valued participation in, and support of, this event.
Sean Paxton (left) and Bob Hueter (right) just moments before the tournament's first bite.
Bob Hueter (left) and Andy Eggebrecht (right) of Andros Boatworks ready to kick it in gear.
The following sequence is taken directly from video footage shot during the action. It depicts in detail, the innovative competitive requirements and related choreography executed between anglers, observers, researchers and prodution crews. Being there, filming this, as it unfolded, and seeing our vision literally coming to life through the camera lens was something we'll never forget. Sean Paxton & Brooks Paxton II
Team Peter's Restaurant report a hook-up at 11am. Captain Bucky Dennis takes the rod on this fish, while his teammate, Captain Jimmy Willis (left) handles the boat and prepares to land the fish.
Less than 20 minutes later, this female bull shark came to the surface and was quickly brought under control with an Aftco tail snare. L-R: Captain Bucky Dennis, Observer - Jim Lugiewicz, Cameraman - Brooks Paxton II and Captain Jimmy Willis.
She measured out officially at 8 feet 2 inches with a weight of approximately 400 pounds.
Observer - Jim Lugiewicz, applies the conventional dart tag, while the team maintains control of her, and Brooks captures the on board action.
An historic moment, as Dr. Bob Hueter of Mote Laboratory & Aquarium's Center for Shark Research, is passed the leader from tournament angler, Captain Bucky Dennis. Also pictured, Jack Morris (far right) Mote Senior Biologist, Shark Biology Program and manager of the Marine Experimental Research Facility.
John Tyminski, Mote Adjunct Scientist, verifies solid placement of the conventional tag after the female bull shark is secured to the research vessel.
It was Dr. Bob Hueter's idea for the anglers to name any satellite tagged sharks. We radioed Captain Bucky Dennis on the Team Peter's Restaurant boat to ask what he thought would be a good name; to which he quickly replied, 'Bucky's Baby'. She was very cooperative and calm through the entire process, and liked the name so much she even grinned for the cameras.
Bob Hueter (foreground) taking note of her condition, as the team prepares to affix the satellite tag to her dorsal fin.
Dr. Nick Witney (top) discusses the tag attachment with Bob Hueter.
Bob (top) and Jack Morris (botton) making final adjustments to the tag, prior to her release back to the wild.
John Tyminski cuts the hook, as Jack Morris (rear) releases the tail rope. UPDATE: From a Mote Press Release on May 4th: "By the following Tuesday, a number of transmissions had been received showing the shark was about 3-4 miles offshore of where it was caught, tagged and released. The Mote scientists will continue to track the shark’s movements and a website displaying the tracks will be available to the public very soon".
L-R: Brooks Paxton II, Dave Chafin, Sean Paxton, Bob Hueter
On Sunday, Team Chubby'z Restaurant radios in a hook up. We intercepted them on board the research and camera boat in time to document their catch and release of a qualifying female lemon shark that would send them to the Grand Championship at Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium May 21 - 23. L - R: Bill Deluna, Observer - (proper ID pending) and Richard Procezyn work together to properly measure, tag, document and ultimately release this lemon for the cameras. (photo from video footage)
With only 10 minutes of regulation fishing left on the final day, Team Red Zone Apparel radioed in a hookup. Once again, on board the Andros Boatworks Mote Research vessel, we covered many miles in short order to make it in time to capture the action first-hand. Team member, Mike Manis controls the fish with an Aftco tail snare, while Observer - (proper ID pending) controls the head, and team member Jay Withers conventionally dart tags this qualifying blacktip shark, which won this team a trip to the championship. (photo from video footage)
We'll be back with more updates and photos including the other team's catch and release action so stay tuned.
The only thing harmed during the filming of this tournament was Brooks' left foot and ankle. He sustained a crush injury while transferring from the research intercept vessel to film on board Captains' Bucky Dennis and Jimmy Willis' boat, during the bull shark procedure. He's recovering nicely, and had the following to say ... "Anything for the Shot."