Worrell 1000: Wrightsville Beach, NC to Atlantic Beach, NC

Published on May 15th, 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 15: Leg 9 – Wrightsville Beach, NC to Atlantic Beach, NC (approximately a 67 mile leg)
The wind seemed steady, coming from the North – forecast was for 12 knots. The Skipper’s meeting was short – racers needed only to be at the line when the horn blew, as all boats completed the leg prior with little to no issues – again. Spirits were high that all was going to go well through the finish in Virginia. Not. So. Fast.

All three boats pushed off immediately at the final horn to commence the leg to Atlantic Beach – it would be another upwind leg, with an anticipated downwind finish. The breeze had already started to drop – Teams Australia and TCDYC were double trapped and headed out, but by the time they reached the Northern pier two miles up shore, they were back on the boat, jockeying for breeze slightly more offshore.

It had been eight minutes since the start. The last remaining race committee (just two of us) and, thankfully, the one ground crew for team Cat in the Hat, turned to see them bobbing in the waves about 100 yards offshore. They were trying to get back to the beach.

Jodie Perkins, Team Manager for TCDYC, two former Worrell racers who had come to watch the start and Cat in the Hat’s ground crewman Aaron, dragged them up the beach. Their port shroud had failed and the mast was being held up with the trap lines.

Larry Ferber, skipper, told everyone scrambling to turn the boat on its side to stay calm. He wanted the sails taken down, drop the mast, replace the shroud properly – then, mast and sails back up. Within 40 minutes of them coming back to the beach, all was done, and they were ready to shove off again – 1 hour and 15 minutes after the official 10am start.

Watching the teams on the live tracker was tricky – the individual trackers had gone down for Australia for over 30 minutes. Then Cat in the Hat’s tracker stopped as well. By the time the fleet had reached the ½ way point about four hours into the leg, the trackers were back online, and to everyone’s surprise – TCDYC was in the lead, followed by Cat in the Hat with team Australia, seeming to be onshore.

The race committee had arrived at Atlantic Beach, set the finish and anxiously waited. Six hours and 30 minutes into the leg, the boats appeared – ALL THREE. We were finally going to have a near-photo finish.

The beach cheered as one of the boats launched their kite on a beam reach along the shore. It was the royal blue kite of Team TCDYC. The talk amongst the sailors on the beach was that there was no way they would be able to hold that line to the finish. But – this is an F18. They did hold the line, dousing the kite within 50 yards of the finish, coming in 1st.

Team Australia, never launching the kite on their Nacra 20, took a solid beam reach very close to shore to come in second – just 1 minute 9 seconds behind TCDYC. Team Cat in the Hat, having launched their kite, then dousing it ½ mile from shore, tried hitting an almost 90-degree lay-line to the finish, failed, and had to zig-zag tack until they could catch waves to surf into the finish.

After such a long delay at the start, everyone was astonished at the fact that they came in behind Team Australia by just 10 minutes and 13 seconds. The beach was electric – it had been an exciting finish to a tense day.

The leg saw team TCDYC with yet another day with no issues. Team Australia DID go to shore during the race with a broken eye-strap at the end of the spinnaker pole where the tack line block is mounted. They tried to tie it to the pole as a temporary fix, but the line broke under load. They sailed the remainder of the leg under jib and main to the finish.

As the teams de-rigged, washed up and met at the Tackle Box Tavern for some BBQ and live music, Larry Ferber of Team Cat in the Hat with Brett White of Team Australia, worked on Larry’s boat. As the Mayor of Atlantic Beach presented the Worrell 1000 Reunion Race with an Official Proclamation and official entry to the town’s Beach Week, I watched as Brett and Larry tipped the boat on its side….working away.

The start in the morning has been moved up to 8:30am to accommodate the need for race committee and crews to make the ferry to Ocrakoke on the way to Hatteras – they need to make it there before the racers. Larry knew this. Brett, ever the helpful and a true sportsman, wasn’t going to let him do it alone. Yep. That’s what it’s all about after all – getting to the finish together – patched-up boats and all.

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