ORANGE BEACH — Through a thunderstorm, Kevin Courville reeled in a 597.4-pound, 121-inch blue marlin to help A Work of Art from Orange Beach become the first repeat winner of the Blue Marlin …
ORANGE BEACH — Through a thunderstorm, Kevin Courville reeled in a 597.4-pound, 121-inch blue marlin to help A Work of Art from Orange Beach become the first repeat winner of the Blue Marlin Grand Championship.
Through the first 10 years of the competition, 10 different teams had won the final tournament of the Gulf Coast Triple Crown hosted at The Wharf.
Saturday night, it was none other than the boat owned by Art Favre, who also owns The Wharf, that became the first to spray champagne on Marlin Circle multiple times after they won the inaugural event in 2012.
“The first time was phenomenal. It was the first time we decided to put the tournament on here at The Wharf and we lucked up and won it,” Favre said. “But this time, 11 years later, it's just been even greater. The competition's much more difficult; the quality of the other anglers and the captains (has increased) and all the boats are bigger and better and grander and faster so it's all great.”
Courville was also the angler that reeled in the fish that helped A Work of Art win the first Blue Marlin Grand Championship. Throughout the two-hour fight on Friday, captain Jason Buck navigated thunderstorms along with the team that he said never wavered.
“Nobody flinched. I was a little concerned somebody was going to say, ‘Let's stop, we're going to get struck,’ but there was none of that,” Buck said. “Everybody just stayed focused on the task at hand.”
However, Favre said there might have indeed been someone involved in the fight that was rattled by the storms.
“We had a thunderstorm to the left, we had a thunderstorm to the right and lightning popping everywhere. It poured-down rain on Kevin and everybody while we were fighting the fish,” Favre said. “The fish, I don't know if the lightning scared it or what, but it went berserk.”
Buck said the team knew after the fish’s first jump that it was the boat’s potential next passenger, but they didn’t know exactly how big it was until they pulled out the tape measure onboard.
When the team brought their prize to the scales on Saturday night, theirs was the last of six blue marlin weighed on the weekend but it wasted no time jumping to the top of the standings by nearly 15 pounds. No other team could top that mark and A Work of Art celebrated its second champagne shower in as many years after winning the Gulf Coast Triple Crown last year.
“It doesn't get any better than that,” Favre said. “We've won tournaments at other venues but coming back to The Wharf and winning this tournament, that's like coming home and protecting your home turf.”
Buck was also on his home turf after he grew up in Fairhope and recently moved to Orange Beach. Even after four champagne celebrations as the captain of Gulf Coast Triple Crown winners, he said those moments are irreplaceable.
“That never gets old. I've done this a couple of times now, thanks to the good Lord and the grace of God. There's no other experience like it,” Buck. “This is the only place where a tournament concludes like that. You have fire-breathing marlin and a champagne bath, that's an experience to be desired by anybody.”
Favre’s desire for another experience like that burned just as intense as the fire-breathing marlin he stood under mere minutes after being the first team to win a second Blue Marlin Grand Championship.
“Next year,” Favre said of his final takeaway. “We've got to repeat next year, we're competitors. We want to be in the game every year; we know we're not going to win every year, but the competition is what it's all about. We've got great competition here in the northern Gulf and especially in Orange Beach. Orange Beach is the mega center of sport billfishing in the Gulf of Mexico.”
Team Supreme from Destin, Florida went on to win the Gulf Coast Triple Crown thanks to a third-place finish in catch and release at the Mississippi Gulf Coast Billfish Classic. This weekend, they added first place in the same category to earn themselves a champagne shower.
The Floridian boat broke a string of three straight triple crown champions from Orange Beach. Pearl, owned by Andy Yarborough, won the 2020 trophy and Team Devotion, owned by Josh Tice, took the top spot in 2021 before A Work of Art claimed the title last year.
After the fishing concluded at the Blue Marlin Grand Championship, every marlin caught was donated to Cooper Farm in Foley where volunteers processed the fish to provide fish meat to Baldwin County families in need.