Worrell 1000: Tybee Island, GA to Isle of Palms, SC

Published on May 12th, 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 12: Leg 6 – Tybee Island, GA to Isle of Palms, SC (approximately a 85 mile leg)
With a scary forecast ahead, the Race Committee made the decision to start the race on time – 10am EST, for the leg from Tybee Island, GA to Isle Of Palms Beach, SC. The final horn sounded and all three teams pushed off into the low surf with speed and ease – all teams had kites up and were on their way within minutes of the beach launch.

It would prove to be a challenging day for the racers – a real mixed bag of weather. The day began with sunny skies and breezes of 10 knots – champagne sailing again? No. Mother Nature had a full line of thunderstorms planned. And she didn’t disappoint.

Three hours into the leg, the skies turned dark and pouring rain was clearly visible offshore. The boats were being tracked with on-board SPOT trackers – satellite tracking units that send specific information on each boat: position, speed, heading, and GPS coordinates. Although not in real-time, signals are recorded roughly every 10 minutes. All boats were upright, moving and at first – staying in a group.

But as they reached the ½-way point, all three boats chose varying tactics – one stayed close to shore, another held the original line while the last, headed offshore. The latter would prove to be the right tactic.

Team Australia headed offshore, skirted the edge of the first storm, and appeared just outside the dark mass of storm clouds, visible to the race committee waiting on the beach at Isle of Palms.

They would make it in first with an elapsed time of 5 hours, 36 minutes and 7 seconds – However, a 1-hour penalty was assessed for a crew substitution, making their final time 6h 36m 7s. They also had to strip the boat of the trampoline – several areas were ripping open and need to be re-sewn before the start tomorrow.

When interviewed after bringing their boat up the beach, Team Australia admitted that team Cat in the Hat were ahead of them for a short time during the race – until the first thunderstorm hit – then they separated and lost sight of each other. Turns out, Team Cat in the Hat sailed much farther past a traditional “lay line” to the finish, adding precious distance and time to their day.

As with the last leg, they did not arrive unscathed – they crossed the finish with a broken rudder arm, significant damage to their port hull (they had cracked the hull and took in a large amount of water) and had a torn trampoline. It will be a long night of repairs for them. Their final elapsed time for the leg was 5 hours, 58 minutes and 58 seconds – NO penalties assessed.

The last to cross the finish was team TCDYC, and although they have been plagued with boat issues for all the previous legs – they arrived as the ONLY boat NOT needing repairs – turns out playing it safe was the wise choice. When interviewed, Chris and Christian were beacons of positivity – as they always are – stating with huge smiles “It was a GREAT sail!” Their elapsed time for the leg was 8 hours, 4 minutes and 37 seconds.

As the Race Committee considers a postponement for the start tomorrow due to a forecast for more thunderstorms, two teams are facing major repairs, one more than the other. It will be extremely difficult to complete hull repairs overnight, but as of the writing of this piece, teams are under flashlight on the beach, working away to make sure they are finished.

The level of cooperation between teams throughout this race has been simply stunning. A local loft is working on trampolines, team Australia was at Home Depot picking up repair materials for Cat in the Hat shortly after they arrived while Larry and Zach from team Cat in the Hat worked on Team Australia’s boat. This. Is. What. It. Takes. And we are ALL, damn proud to be a part of it all.

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