Worrell 1000: The Final Leg 2019
Published on May 18th, 2019
The 2019 Worrell 1000 Reunion Race brought back the beach cat contest which held 20 editions from 1976 to 2002. Beginning May 6 from South Florida, three teams took on the 1000 mile offshore adventure to Virginia Beach, VA. Here is the update from Beverley Simmons of the final leg:
May 18: Leg 12 – Kill Devil Hills, NC to Virginia Beach, VA (approximately a 58 mile leg)
Seventeen years. It had been a lifetime for some, but for us, in the warmth of the family who gathered on the beach in Virginia to welcome the fleet, the hiatus was but a blink – a brief pause in the history of this grueling, harsh but beautiful experience.
Originally conceived as simply a challenge between brothers, all three boats that started the 2019 Worrell 1000 Reunion Race crossed the finish line in Virginia Beach under sunny skies and warm breezes. This was the culmination of 18 months of planning, plotting, and careful consideration by a dedicated few that were certain that this style of off-shore beach catamaran racing still had a place in this world.
The morning start in Kill Devil Hills saw the favorable southerly breeze forecast collapse. The Race Committee elected to get going early as suspicions grew that the shaky forecast might presage a light-air, upwind slog of a leg in lumpy seas.
The fleet spent 30 miles gently bobbing in a northerly zephyr that belied the building breeze that would bring them home, spray-flying, on tired arms. Because the breeze built from the front of the fleet, there was an hour separation between the boats as they approached the finish.
Rod Waterhouse and Beua White of Team Australia “mastered the mild” to stretch their overall lead and hit the beach first to great accolade and cheers. Their elapsed leg time was 6h 50m 51s and an overall regatta time of 73h 37m 24s.
Larry Ferber and Zack Panetti of Team Cat in the Hat held firmly onto the 2nd place position and were greeted on the beach with equal gusto as the crowds continued to grow in front of the Best Western in VA Beach. The elapsed time of their leg was 7h 51m 22s with an overall regatta time of 81h 49m 34s.
Chris Green and Christian Vuerings of Team TCDYC had fallen behind in the very light air experienced shortly after the start. However, the team maintained the gap once the breeze filled in from the north and carried their spinnaker confidently to the finish of the race and their first Worrell 1000. The elapsed time of their leg was 8h 49m 34s with an overall regatta time of 94h 57m 34s.
It seemed almost anti-climactic to see the boats quickly rolled from the ocean’s edge to the ramp off of the beach where teams quickly broke down their boats to pull them from the sands before the sun set. Sailors, officials, fans and lookers-on hustled the two blocks down the street to the Raven to enjoy great food, cold drinks, and warm welcomes.
A brief but heartfelt awards ceremony followed in a room festooned with Worrell memorabilia plastered on the windows, walls, doors, and tabletops. Ardent and sincere gratitude was expressed continuously by each team and awardee that filled the room with a strong sense of family and comradery. The room erupted in cheers at the announcement of the next running of the Worrell – May 3, 2021.
With the bar emptied, the memorabilia packed away and the warm goodbye’s dispatched, there’s little left to do but to pack bags. We all felt a sense of bitter-sweet loss that we would not be gathering again the following morning. But we all knew – we WOULD see each other again… on the next start line… in South Florida.
Until then… sail fast, take chances – keep the pointy end up.