Worrell 1000: Jacksonville Beach, FL to Tybee Island, GA

Published on May 10th, 2019

The 2019 Worrell 1000 Reunion Race brings back the beach cat contest which held 20 editions from 1976 to 2002. Beginning May 6 from South Florida, three teams take on the 1000 mile offshore adventure to Virginia Beach, VA. Here is the latest update from Beverley Simmons:

May 10: Leg 5 – Jacksonville Beach, FL to Tybee Island, GA (approximately a 117 mile leg)
It was early….two hours earlier start than all previous legs. The night before, PRO John Williams saw the forecasted winds at 5-10 knots or less, and made the decision to move the start time up to 8am instead of 10 in an effort to give the racers enough time to finish the roughly 120-mile leg to Tybee before dark. And with Team TCDYC with fresh boat repairs, those they worked on through the night and very early that morning – they appreciated the early start as well – just in case they had more issues on the water.

The wind Gods decided to smile upon the Worrell – by 7:30 a.m. the forecast had changed and winds were holding steady at 10 knots, expected to build to 15+. With all three competitors on the start line for the first time since leg 1, the final horn blew and the pushers shoved their team’s boats through the 2-3 foot roiling surf. There was a close call when TCDYC fell off their course, nearly colliding with Cat in the Hat. Chris Lim, the pusher for Cat in the Hat saw the f18 at the last, possible second and dove to the bottom, narrowly avoiding being hit by the port bow. Teams are required, at the start, to sail perpendicular to the surf & TCDYC would have been at fault, had there been contact.

With all three boats underway, it appeared all was well. Brett White, of Team Australia noticed nearly immediately, however that he was not getting good tension in the main sail. Looking up, he & Rod Waterhouse realized the main had come unhooked from the to of the mast. Rod neatly spun the boat in the surf and quickly returned to shore where ground crews helped to flip the boat, re-hook the sail and launch through the surf again.

Everyone watched as the three boats seemed to establish different strategies early in the leg. Australia’s late start saw them closer to shore and sailing deep with the kite up. Texas was reaching higher with the kite, closer to a rhumb line. Cat in the Hat was seen to drop their kite and make a sharp, right turn, which appeared to indicate they intended to sail above the rhumb, perhaps seeking more pressure offshore. We found out after the finish that this was the point at which their starboard rudder failed – broken off, which they managed to retrieve – with 90 miles left to go in the leg.

With both the American & Australian flags flying, spectators abounded on this Mother’s Day weekend on Tybee Island. Australia hove into view sailing with jib and main to skirt the infamous Tybee sandbar. They made it to the beach first at an elapsed time of 8:24:29. Less than an hour later, Cat in the Hat came into Tybee in the same fashion – broken rudder and all – with an elapsed time of 9:12:50. Team TCDYC had made it all the way with no boat issues until they hit the Tybee sandbar – literally – causing dagger board slot damage and a chunk out the board itself, making the port hull, once again, fill with water very quickly. They managed to make it the beach just 59 minutes behind the last competitor with an elapsed time of 10:11:20. With a lay-day ahead of them they would need it to make the necessary repairs to launch that Sunday towards Isle of Palms.

That night, everyone enjoyed some social time at Sting Ray’s, a well-established, local bar & restaurant – laughter filled the air, nosh and debrief underway – salty sailors and fresher folks shared their love of the sport. A fantastic end to an exciting day. Until Sunday – leg 6 from Tybee to Isle of Palms.

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