Mollie Brings 2017 Gulf Coast Triple Crown Championship to Florida
For the first time in its seven-year history a company boat has won the prestigious Gulf Coast Triple Crown Championship. Mollie, a 66 G&S owned by the Tractor and Equipment Company in Birmingham and operated by Capt. Jeff Shoults of Destin, Florida, captured the title after competing in the Blue Marlin Grand Championship that just concluded. Eric Hayles and Chance Young are the two mates working the cockpit of the custom sportfisher. Unlike previous years where private yachts earned top billing, Mollie had different sets of anglers for each event.
"It is a little more difficult dealing with different teams each tournament," Shoults said at the awards presentation. "But my crew makes it easy by explaining what's going on and keeping everything together. We worked hard this season and I'm confident we're going to win some more money in future tournaments. But at this point in our careers, it's very gratifying to win this trophy and to be recognized among our peers."
The Gulf Coast Triple Crown Championship consists of five events in the central Gulf of Mexico and is sponsored by American Marine Brokerage. The affiliated tournaments include the Orange Beach Billfish Classic, Cajun Canyons Billfish Classic, Mississippi Gulf Coast Billfish Classic, Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic and the Blue Marlin Grand Championship.
The Triple Crown is scored on a hybrid system that includes both weight and release points for the top three finishes in the blue marlin divisions only. Bonus points are also accrued for series participation, weighed marlin lengths and tournament marlin records. The winning team receives The Championship Trophy, a seven-foot tall, one of a kind masterpiece handcrafted by metal artist Frank Ledbetter that is valued at $18,000. In addition, the Triple Crown Champion earns bragging rights amongst the region's top big-game contestants.
In winning the exquisite marlin sculpture and honors this season, Mollie placed second in the Mississippi Gulf Coast Billfish Classic with a blue weighing 654.2 pounds and was also named the top release boat with four more blue marlin credited. The team also earned bonus points for fishing the circuit and length allowances, for a total of 410 points.
Lyon's Pride, a 62 Viking owned by Bob Lyons, with Capt. Daniel Menard and mates Robert Eliason and Kendall Sauls, finished second in the standings with 350 points. Team Supreme was third with 285 points. The 76 Viking is owned by Allen Krake, with Capt. Chase Lake and mate Rodney Johnson as the crew.
The Triple Crown Championship has now made its way across the Gulf. Patron took it home to Texas in 2011 and Done Deal captured it twice in 2012 and 2013 to represent Louisiana. Sea Mixer put Alabama on the map in 2014, while Relentless Pursuit gave Louisiana another showcase in 2015. Breathe Easy (Alabama) was last year's winner.
"The Triple Crown Championship trophy will be right at home in Destin with its long sport-fishing heritage," says GCTC Director Scott Burt. "Congratulations to Capt. Jeff, Eric, Chance and all of Mollie's anglers for an outstanding year. This boat is always a contender in the Gulf tournaments and now they have the hardware to match that skill and dedication."