A billfish angling-equipped version of the Cigarette 39’ GTS shown here will be part of the Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic fleet later this month. Photo courtesy Cigarette Racing Team.
About five years ago, Gary Applewhite of Albany, Ga., sold the 60-foot Bertram sportfisher he used to compete in Gulf Coast billfish tournaments. Applegate, now 60 years old, was done with competitive angling.
Or so he thought.
At the end of month, he’ll head out with his 21-year-old son Blake on a 2015 Cigarette Racing Team 39’ GTS performance center console called Liquid Apple and powered by triple Mercury Marine Verado 350 outboard engines for the Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic June 21-25 at Sandestin, Fla. He’ll be joined by his other son, 32-year-old Justin, and fellow team members Dustyn Holman, Eric Venable, and Matt Champion.
“It’s going to be a real ‘David versus Goliath thing’ with us going up against 105-foot sportfishing boats,” said the senior Applewhite with a hearty laugh. “The event organizers told us that this is the first time a Cigarette has been in this billfishing tournament. It’s the biggest tournament of the season. The total payout is more than $2 million.”
Blake, who bought the Cigarette center console with 150 hours on its engines, was too young to experience competitive angling with his father on the Bertram.