We still haven't cured our goose egg, while a rival entrant, Vitamin Sea Too, is on its way to catching 14 sails, enough to win the tournament. The owner of that boat, Tim Maddock, is a lot like his fellow competitors. He runs a family-owned company that manufactures diamond saw blades. When he's not doing that, he's tournament fishing - he and the same crew, six in all, fish 10 tournaments a year.
His is as close to a professional team as any of the professionally sponsored teams entered. These guys are far removed from the weekend warrior set, more in line with a nascar pit crew.
"You try to put a bunch of guys together where everybody's capable of doing everything, and when the fire alarm goes off, everyone falls into place," says Maddock. Because missing just one fish could mean the difference between a six-figure check and nothing.
The irony of this is that to be able to compete for that check, you almost have to not need it. Take Maddock. "The tournament cost me 50 grand to fish," he says. "If you're in these tournaments to make money, take up something else."
Yes, given the considerable investment, it's too bad there's not more at stake than the official prize money. Which is surprising, as a lot of the anglers act as if there might be. Of course, nobody talks about the Calcutta, which technically doesn't exist. But if it did - nudge, nudge, wink, wink - it would be referring to bets made on the side that could total tens of thousands of dollars a day. As I said, everyone assures me it doesn't exist. Ask anyone on any dock and you'll hear, "Calcutta, what's that?" Maybe it is just the pure sport of fishing that brings out each angler's competitive nature. At least officially, that's the storyline.
The competitiveness also spills over to the $500-a-plate charity auction at Shula's Steakhouse, where the guest of honor is none other than Don Shula, the legendary former football coach of the Miami Dolphins, who runs one of the charities. The bidding starts on autographed footballs, baseballs, and other memorabilia. The wife of one of the heavy hitters jumps up with checkbook in hand. Then the next one. Then the next, in rapid succession. In 27 minutes, the auction raises more than $100,000.
Back at the docks, at the end of the last day, Black Pearl's crew has no chance of being in the running for the tournament's hundred grand. Of the 110 boats that caught and released 391 sailfish, none brought in enough to top the Vitamin Sea Too. But no one seems too concerned. If enough handshakes were made in the air-conditioned cabins of the other multimillion-dollar battlewagons out there, a lot of people figure they still won.