Why One Wicked Tuna Captain Deems His Boat the ‘Underdog’ of the Competition

by Courtney Blackann
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While “Wicked Tuna: Outer Banks” still has some of our favorite cast members from the original National Geographic hit, it also introduced some new captains along the way. This is the case with the fishing vessel “Rasta Rocket.” Captained by Zack Shackleton and Daniel Blank, the two describe themselves and their crew as underdogs. And that’s okay with them.

The two fishing fanatics have known each other for most of their lives. They originally met in mackerel competitions. Because their love of fishing was apparent, Shackleton and Blank quickly bonded. After Blank’s girlfriend sent in an application to “Wicked Tuna: Outer Banks” for the 2019 season. He didn’t think anything would become of it but the underdog angle appealed to producers and they gave the young captain a call.

“She saw they were looking for boats,” Blank says, via Life in Brunswick County. “We didn’t think they would talk to us, but she sent it anyway.” Soon, the pair along with their 28-foot boat, were invited to the show. Then they were invited back in 2020.

Rasta Rocket Named for Movie

Named after the “Cool Runnings” Disney movie following the real-life tale of the Jamaican bobsled team, the Rasta Rocket is pretty much the same, the captains say.

“It’s an underdog story,” Shackleton says. “If you look at the movie, that’s pretty much our story. I don’t mind being the underdog. We hang in there with the top guns.”

He goes on to add that:

“We wanted to make a good name for Brunswick County and Holden Beach,” he says. “We just want to be the best that we can be. We want people to be proud of us, and I think we’ve done that.”

And to be fair, the small crew have really shown their determination. Not only are they battling the same rough seas that other “Wicked Tuna: Outer Banks” crews are, they also have to miss several days of fishing when others can go out. This is due to their smaller boat.

“Wicked Tuna: Outerbanks” Captains on Tuna Season

The show follows the challenges commercial fishermen face during each chilly season. Tuna certainly bring in big price tags, but they have their bad days like anyone else. For Shackleton and Blank, that means saving money where they can in order to make ends meet.

Further, Shackleton says commercial fishing is now his life. There’s no script for “Wicked Tuna: Outer Banks,” so what you see is really what’s happening. The sometimes vicious lifestyle isn’t for everyone. But there’s nothing Shackleton or Blank would rather be doing. Even if it means competing against more seasoned crews from New England. They’re ready to prove they have what it takes. And the Rasta Rocket will still get them there, Shackleton says.

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