Worrell 1000: Surfside Beach, SC to Wrightsville Beach, NC

Published on May 14th, 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 14: Leg 8 – Surfside Beach, SC to Wrightsville Beach, NC (approximately a 90 mile leg)
It was a beautiful, calm, and cold morning. At least, it felt cold compared to the previous mornings on more Southerly shores.

Winds were steady at 12 knots, from the NORTH – it would be an upwind leg for the majority of the 88-mile leg to Wrightsville Beach past Cape Fear. The forecast called for relatively calm seas, steady breezes, and sunshine all day. The only possible snag? Frying Pan Shoals – a navigable line close to the shore was possible and the teams were all planning to try.

At 7:30am, Team Texas (TCDYC) was already on the beach – they had enjoyed two, full legs without any boat damage, and had narrowed the gap between finishes from team Cat in the Hat the last few legs. They were hungry.

The beach had filled out by 8am with the rest of the teams and Race Committee. By the start of the Skipper’s meeting at 9am – all the teams were suited up in their gear and ready to go, even though the start sequence would not begin for another 55 minutes.

Throughout all the rough legs, late-night-into-early-morning boat repairs and logistical issues – the entire fleet felt a unified excitement – they all were starting to believe they would make it to the finish together.

At the sound of the horn at exactly 10am ET, all three boats pushed through the surf. Team Australia, in the pole position, came out with ease while Cat in the Hat, in the second position, rolled over them like a bullet shot from a gun as their ground crew, Aaron made a remarkable effort to get them out ahead.

Team Texas got out quickly and they soon passed Cat in the Hat – for some reason, that team had turned offshore, slowed, and seemed to stall for a short while. Team Australia and TCDYC were double-trapped, hulls flying within five minutes of launch – Team Cat in the Hat sorted themselves out and were not far behind.

By the time the fleet had reached the halfway point, they fell into a familiar pattern; Team Australia was out ahead, while team Cat in the Hat trailed just behind, followed by Team TCDYC. They moved at a good pace ranging from 7 to 16 knots, according to the online trackers.

By the time the lead boat had reached the small Jetty at Masonboro Inlet, the gap between Team Australia had widened significantly. They tacked in close to shore, selected a beach run to the finish and crossed easily at an elapsed time of 6h 21m 12s. It would be an hour and 20 minutes before we saw more boats.

Cat in the Hat was the second to appear after passing the jetty. Unlike Australia, they chose to remain on the far-offshore tack and sailed well past the finish line. They were forced to zig-zag tack their way to the finish, riding a crested wave over the line with a recorded leg of 7h 43m 23s.

While they were tacking their way to the finish, TCDYC appeared – they decided to tack into the beach line as the Aussies did, and chose a gorgeous lay line to the finish – however – they followed that line past finish-line-mid-point, tacked to make the starboard mark of the finish….missed with their rudders up, caught the wind, and bolted along the beach to the port flag – narrowly missing the race committee official.

Their ground crew was finally able to pull them back over the start line at a final leg time of 7h 56m 23s – just 13 minutes after the last boat to finish. It made for exciting vids for the local news crews that were covering the finish.

As the sun sets on this gorgeous, North Carolina day, everyone is enjoying libations and awesome conversation at the tiki bar behind our host hotel, The Blockade Runner. The feeling of camaraderie and plain, old-fashioned joy at getting this far in the Worrell is evident. We’re GOING to make it to Virginia Beach – TOGETHER – and we will have lots of amazing tales to tell for years to come.

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