Every time he steps aboard his new Nitro/Mercury boat, BASS member and BASS Insider subscriber Darrin Gibson of Deatsville, Ala., likely will think of Kevin VanDam.
Gibson chose to vote for VanDam over the other 11 Bassmaster Elite Series Postseason qualifiers in a recent Bassmaster.com online contest, the Toyota Tundra Fan Favorite. A vote was a show of support for a pro as well as an entry in a sweepstakes for a 2010 Nitro Z-7, 150-hp Mercury OptiMax engine, trailer and boat wrap of the winner's choice.
Gibson won the sweepstakes, which drew more than 88,000 participants. One vote a day per person was allowed by contest rules. Gibson is a long-time VanDam fan, and he registered every one of his votes for the three-time Classic champion.
"I like Kevin's power fishing because it's kind of my style, too," Gibson said. "And he's into charity events and shares his time in support of a lot of good causes."
VanDam garnered the most votes, with California's Skeet Reese finishing second. It was an echo of the Postseason results, which VanDam won after a slow, and very un-VanDam-like, start to the Elite Series.
"He had me worried there early in the season," Gibson said. "I felt if he could do well on Lake Jordan, then he could pull it out on the Alabama River, like he did last year."
Gibson said he immediately responded to the June 29 e-mail inviting him to vote. Every day thereafter through July 25, Gibson logged into www.Bassmaster.com and voted. He needed no prompting.
"I just remembered," said Gibson, an avid angler and member of a BASS Federation Nation club, the Christian Bassmen of Montgomery.
Winning a new boat is "perfect timing," Gibson said. He was eager to retire or sell his 10-year-old boat for something newer, especially for use in club tournaments.
"I started bass fishing when I was in the second grade," he said. "I've been in the Military for 23 years now and haven't always been where I could fish, or allowed me enough time to fish."
He has more time now, and myriad Alabama bass fisheries from which to choose from now that he serves in Montgomery as a full-time soldier in the Alabama National Guard. He had served for five years in the Marine Corps, followed by three years of active Army duty. He's a veteran of Desert Shield/Desert Storm and of Iraqi Freedom campaigns.