Worrell 1000: Memories return to life

Published on May 5th, 2019

It’s going to be a day nobody worth the wind in their sails ever thought they’d see again. Once one of the most iconic sailboat races in the world, the Worrell 1000 died after its 2002 run from southern Florida to Virginia Beach.

But a group of former participants have brought it back and it’s scheduled to start from the beach in Hollywood, Fla., at 10 a.m. on May 6. While the three teams signed up for this marathon of man-in-a-small boat against Mother Nature pales from the event’s heyday, it’s a start.

“We realize it’s only three teams, but we know there are a lot of eyes on us,” said John Williams, a veteran of three Worrells and the event’s race officer in charge of the start and finish lines. “There has been a ton of online traffic and social media and we’ll be holding events at every stop.

There were going to be four teams, but Team Buoy 44 featuring the winner of the last two Worrells — Brian Lambert — at the helm pulled out at the last minute.

Team captain Beetle Bailey said the logistics seemed too hefty and Lambert and crew member Will Rottgering decided to see how things went.

“The boat is in Texas and instead of dragging it all around the country right now, Brian decided to pull out,” said Bailey, who jumped on board as a race sponsor after his team pulled out. “Will’s wife just had a baby and it all just seemed too much.

“We’re going to wait and see what happens and hopefully they’ll keep this thing going.”

The Worrell 1000 was launched in 1976, the invention of Michael Worrell, who owned Worrell Brothers restaurant and bar in Virginia Beach with his brother, Chris. In 2002, Lambert and Jamie Livingston set the course record of 71 hours, 32 minutes and 55 seconds.

It would be the final race under Worrell, who died in 2010, with the return to celebrate the challenge for which the race is born. The 13-stage event has daily legs with no breaks, with boats needing to launch from and finish on the beach, with scoring based on the best overall elapsed time.

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Source: Lee Tolliver, The Virginian-Pilot

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