Sailfly event a test of patience

O Yo Ho Ho, co-owned by Islamorada residents Al McLeod and Bob Lodge and skippered by captain Charlie Scoble, won top honors in the 2012 Islamorada Sailfly Championship that concluded Thursday. The one-of-a-kind tournament, launched in 2001, awards trophies for releasing Atlantic sailfish on fly rod. The crew on Yo Ho Ho bested a fleet of 20 boats in catching, billing and removing the fly from a sailfish. The runner-up team on Challenger, skippered by captain Robbie Dixon, released a sail after a 30-minute fight, but was unable to bill it. The 2012 Sailfly marks the fourth victory for Scoble as captain and the second for anglers McLeod and Lodge.

“The fish were squirrelly and didn’t tease well,” tournament director Sandy Moret said. “Everybody freaked out, but they’re ready to go again next year.”

Atlantic sailfish are much more difficult to catch on fly rod than their larger Pacific cousins. While charter and private boats fishing in billfish destinations such as Costa Rica and Guatemala often report double-digit daily releases of Pacific sails on fly, releases of Atlantic sails are rare. Scoble estimates he has released maybe two dozen in the Atlantic over 15 years.

•  Florida Sea Grant, the marine extension program of the University of Florida, is seeking anglers and guides to help with a pilot study to test devices for releasing fish caught in deep water without harming them. Sea Grant researchers are testing tools and techniques aimed at preventing barotrauma to deep water reef fish. When these fish are reeled up quickly from the bottom, they often suffer from a condition similar to the “bends” in humans. Their air bladders, which regulate buoyancy, do not deflate properly, which prevents them from returning to the bottom and kills them. If a successful tool can be developed to release deep-water fish back down to depth unharmed, then future fisheries closures and stringent bag and size limits might be avoided. To assist with this study call Lisa Krimsky at 305-421-4017 or email

•  Blustery winds that suddenly died down to light breezes made for one of the slowest races ever in the Fort Lauderdale to Key West Race that began Wednesday and concluded Friday. Out of 47 sailboats registered for the 160-mile race, only 20 finished. The rest retired with equipment problems or just gave up. According to unofficial results posted on the race website, Denali, a PHRF A entry skippered by Michael D’Amelio, had the fastest corrected time in the fleet at one day, four hours, 45 minutes and 59 seconds. Other class winners: IRC “O”, Rambler, skippered by George David in 1:17:08:55; IRC A, Sarah, skippered by Gregory Manning, 1:15:22:52; PHRF B, Island Flyer, skippered by Danny Manrique, 1:13:06:36; PHRF C, Santarella, skippered by James P. Scalise, 1:13:06:27; and Multihull, Cheekee Monkee, skippered by Ron White, 1:09:08:56.

•  Olympic gold medalist Anna Tunnicliffe, 29, of Plantation has been named U.S. Sailing’s 2011 Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year, becoming the first woman to win the award for four consecutive years. After winning gold in sailing’s Laser Radial class in the 2008 Olympic Games in China, Tunnicliffe switched to the Elliot 6m women’s match racing class, which will make its Olympic debut in London this summer. Tunnicliffe and teammates Debbie Capozzi and Molly Vandemoer recently won gold in the ISAF World Championships in Australia, qualifying the U.S. for an Olympic berth in England. The team is widely considered the favorite to represent the U.S. in women’s match racing in the Games, pending a final qualifying regatta later this spring.

Bill Hardesty of San Diego was named 2011 Rolex Yachtsman of the Year. Hardesty’s credits include 2011 Etchells world champion and winning tactician in the ISAF Match Racing World Championship.

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