Well its a wrap! The first ever Guy Harvey Ultimate Shark Challenge is in the books with great success! Myself and Chris of Team Rebel had an invitation extended to us from the masterminds of the project (The Paxton Brothers) to have yet another meeting of the "Unholy Alliance" at the Grand Championship leg of the tournament at Mote Marine Lab and aquarium in Sarasota. Needless to say we packed the truck and headed west to see what this was all about.
We packed the Ol' Cheyenne up and made the four hour trek west to a place where the sand is white and the people are friendly, needless to say when we arrived at Mote marine Friday night we were not disappointed at what we walked into.
Deep in the bowels of Mote on Friday Sean and Brooks were doing some last minute film editing during the captains meeting, and before the kickoff dinner, to have some streaming footage in the large emmirgent cinema for the weekend. Shortly after they Shark Brothers ran down with Capt. Robert Moore and Dr. Robert Hueter to give the speech for the opening ceremony just before dinner and drinks in the court yard courtesy of Mote Marine. Because at 6 am it was game on, a mad dash for the remaining five teams to get their shot at the $10,000 cash prize for first place.
Naturally after a long drive and a lot of catching up with our brothers on the west side of town, we did not rise till much later in the day. We arrive at Mote Marine, but not before taking in some sights around the town for future reference.
Shortly after our arrival I received a phone call from Sean (who was on one of the research intercept vessels) informing us to go into the cinema there and wait for the live feed. The live feed which was sponsored by Verizon and Fios, was simulcasted LIVE from Seans camera into the cinema, so that all the tournament patrons could view exactly what was happening on the water during the anglers hook-ups and during the research teams satellite tagging process. This was the first time this has ever been done in a tournament and if I do say so myself it was a HUGE SUCCESS! To be able to see what the anglers and researchers were seeing themselves, at the EXACT SAME TIME was incredible! Everybody was awestruck by this whole operation and how it went-off so smoothly!
Shortly after this final broadcast of a 7ft 2in hammer head which was caught by Team Pole Dancer, the boats all returned back for food and beverages under the chickee after a long day of hard fishing in the brutal Florida sun.
Here we had great conversations with very important and influential people within the global shark community, such as Wendy Benchley, Robert Hueter and his research team and anglers like Bucky Dennis. There was a good time had by all as well as some great information passed between all party's there, but there was still one day of fishing left.
Brendon and his Girlfriend Taylor also made an appearance at the gathering under the chickee, and they were finally able to meet the other half of the "Unholy Alliance". After a few quick photos which were snapped by Andy (The owner of Andros boat works) we parted ways for the night so everybody could get the proper amount of sleep for the final day of this shark challenge.
We went off an pursued some of the night life down in Siesta Key area and decided to turn in somewhat early ourselves, but this wasn't before we realized that we had some brake pad issues on the truck , which is never a welcome thing on a vacation. We knew this problem couldn't wait until we made the journey back home, so we devised a plan of attack to tackle this issue as quickly as possible, more importantly before the tourney ended the next afternoon.
After a quick stop at Advance Auto Sunday morning, we limped over to Mote Marine Lab,aquarium,and brake center and set-up shop. Found a nice shady tree out in the back parking lot and took care of the problem in just about an hour, so needless to say the vacation was back on!
Fishing the final day was much slower than the first, with a few smaller sharks being caught and one bull shark was satellite tagged. We met the flotilla back at the Mote docks nestled in the mangroves in the back of the property and extended our congratulations to the shark bros. and the rest of the team for a job EXTREMELY well-done.
After a few more post tournament beverages at the chickee, we all headed into the cinema to watch the crowning of the first ever champion of this benchmark shark tournament.
We at Team Rebel want to congratulate Team Pole Dancer as the first ever champions of the Guy Harvey Ultimate Shark Challenge! On day one of the tourney they took a commanding lead with two 7ft class hammer heads, both of which were satellite tagged and are now roaming freely, alive and well somewhere in the fertile waters of Tampa Bay!
Sean,Brooks, Dr. Hueter and Robert all went up and gave their closing thoughts on what this tourney meant to them, and what it meant to shark fishing in general. Sean and Brooks then proceeded to keep it very METAL when Dr. Heuter made them both honorary Mote Marine research team members, thus adding a fitting ending to an amazing show!
Afterwards we met up with Sean, Brooks and the rest of the team in the hotel room just in time to watch Kerry Sanders NBC Sunday night special on the tournament (which was broadcasted nationally).
Everybody raised their glasses to a toast for the great success of the tournament all while everybody gave their first hand experiences from land to sea on how everything went down, and how people reacted to the whole event. Afterwards we all congregated and began to celebrate the rest of the night with all the people that made this great event that only a year ago was just an idea, become a smashing success in reality!
The night was fun and full of light heartedness shark conversation and ideas for next year ( Which I will add right now, Team Rebel will be going nautical to take part of this event the next time around) and soak in what had just happened.
After a late night we turned in, only to awake early to Sean informing us we needed to help them transport their newly aquired Anti-shark cage back to "The Shark Tank". I will say that is wasn't the most fun activity the next day after a late night, but if one thing the "Unholy Alliance" does better than anybody else, we keep it Metal. And what can be more metal than transporting huge, heavy pieces of heavy metal for shark diving purposes? NOTHING, that's why we prevailed as usual. After dropping the cage off, we took a quick photo-op with our west side brothers and said our goodbyes, not before thanking Sean and Brooks one last time and extending one last congratulatory handshake before we made our trek back across the Everglades to the East Coast, and back to reality.
Sean, Brooks, and the rest of the Ultimate Shark Challenge crew, excellent show, a lot of fishing firsts that are credited to you all, and thanks again!
Can't wait till next year! (Though we will be fishing!)
-For more information on this ground breaking tournament click on the link below
And to track the 4 sharks that were satellite tagged in this tournament follow the link below