On Friday evening, Sept. 27, the South Carolina Governor’s Cup Billfishing Series celebrated the winners of the 2019 season during an awards reception hosted at Founder’s Hall at Charles Towne Landing. It was a great night to revisit highlights from this past summer surrounded by tournament coordinators, sponsors, and participants. In addition to recognizing top billfish boats and anglers, the Series also presented the award for the 2019 Mate of the Year.
Every year, following the final tournament of the Series, the South Carolina Governor’s Cup receives nominations for this prestigious award. The Advisory Board of Directors then reviews those submissions and selects a winner from the pool of nominations. This year’s winner, Thomas Garmany, is no stranger to the Governor’s Cup. A Mount Pleasant native, he grew up on Lowcountry docks, fishing tournaments, winning awards and learning the skills that would eventually lead to a very successful career as a mate. His name is now recognized in billfishing destinations around the world, from the coasts of the United States to the Western shores of Africa. This year, while at home in South Carolina, Garmany fished aboard the Jackpot and helped the team capture the overall win of the 2019 South Carolina Governor’s Cup Billfishing Series.
The Jackpot crew fought hard for the win, accumulating release points under difficult fishing conditions throughout the summer. Although they didn’t win any legs in the Series, they took second place in two and earned points in others. Winning the South Carolina Governor’s Cup doesn’t come about without considerable expertise in the cockpit. And there is no shortage of skill in Garmany. A highly sought-after and decorated fisherman, Garmany is goofy, charismatic, hardworking and an expert angler. He happens to be a great coach too.
Jackson McKinney, son of the Jackpot’s owner, said, “Thomas is the man with the plan in the pit and is an awesome person to learn more from each and every day we go fishing.” Captain Sean Dooley also chimed in, “Our guys knew nothing about being an angler and what went into being a great angler and Thomas has taught them what it takes over the past couple of years. He is always upbeat and positive and makes sure that everyone around him has that same attitude as well.”
By the end of the Series, The Jackpot had released three blue marlin and 11 sailfish, earning an overall total of 4,075 points, a thousand points more than the next-highest-scoring boat.
It was a big win for the group of young hopefuls. Garmany said, “Winning the Gov Cup doesn’t come with a big check, but I thoroughly enjoy coming to my hometown and fishing the tournaments. I think everyone involved in making all the tournaments happen does a great job as well. Lastly, the competitors that you fish against are some of the best fishermen in the world, in my opinion.”
While preparing to celebrate the Jackpot’s win among family and friends last Friday, Garmany was not aware that he would be named the 2019 Mate of the Year. Before his name was announced, these words, written by Captain Sean Dooley, were read aloud, resonating across the crowded room: “I couldn’t think of another more qualified and deserving person to win mate of the year than him. While there is more to being a mate than just fishing, we also can’t ignore the fact that he is one of the best in the world in the cockpit and was an important piece to the Jackpot winning the series. We couldn’t have even come close without him.”
Cameron J. Rhodes is the photographer and social media coordinator for the South Carolina Governor’s Cup Billfishing Series.