What a Worrell it has been…

Published on May 16th, 2022

Following the lay day on May 14 and the leg from Tybee Island, GA to Folly Beach, SC, which started May 15 and was won by Randy Smyth and Dalton Tebo on Team Rudee’s, the 13 teams set off May 16 for the seventh stage from Folly Beach, SC to Surfside Beach, SC.

With an southerly breeze of about 8 knots, the teams were able to easily navigate through the surf with two pushers, and the start went off smoothly, without incident. However, the steadily building winds would soon haunt the fleet.

By the time the fleet reached the halfway point of the journey (roughly 40 miles out), the winds had increased to 18 knots. The fleet started to spread out, with Team The Clean Sailors (Chris Green and Mathieu Marfaing) leading the pack.

They would remain there and eventually win their 1st leg of this event – coming in 16 minutes and 24 seconds ahead of Team Rudee’s, enduring winds at 24 knots with gusts – both teams stating the long spinnaker reach tossed them around with Mathieu, laughing and reporting about a capsize during a gybe. They could put it behind them now – they won the leg – others were not so jovial.

Each team that finished reported either a flip or a near flip within the last 10 miles of the leg. Nine boats would all finish in the next two hours, many – within minutes of each other. It appeared as though it would be another great day of all boats making it home in time for a civilized dinner. Then, the Race Committee received word the last two boats had flipped, and that one of those boats was adrift without its sailors.

Tense minutes went by until it was confirmed that it was Team The Netherlands. The Race Committee coordinated with the team manager, Scott Hubel (a Worrell Veteran himself) to immediately contact the Coast Guard and local Law Enforcement/Rescue; the search for the sailors was on. Someone shouted “I see a boat!” – It was the German Team, Way of Life (Stefan Rumpf and Andre Hauschke). Boat 11 would make it home – all attention turned to Netherlands.

Coast Guard Wilmington made an area-wide hail to all vessels to keep a sharp eye along the coast. The Race Committee provided the Coast Guard the coordinates of the capsize and tracking information for the drifting boat, which was expected to land along the sandy shore 4 or 5 miles south of the finish. Another reason to be thankful for GPS trackers.

The team’s Ground Crew began driving south along the coast road, but it was Fire and Rescue that found the two sailors (Gerard Loos and Fred Serafin) and delivered them to their boat that had indeed, washed ashore just 4 miles from the finish – bringing the tense hour we all awaited word, to a positive close and relief to the fleet and followers of the race.

Gerard, still in a sandy wet suit, strode into the Hotel Bar to the cheers of his fellow competitors and began joyfully telling his tale of “woe”. He said that as they passed the final point along the shoreline, the rudder pintles failed, causing them to flip. When they righted the boat, the position of the rudder prevented them from turning the boat into the wind. Without this control, Gerard and Fred were dragged along beneath the boat for as long as they could hold on.

Ultimately, unable to gain control, the sailors released the boat, which again capsized, and drifted towards shore. To him, this all seemed an adventure! He informed the Race Committee that the boat (and his crew) sustained little damage – and that they would be on the street line the next day. What a Worrell it has been……

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Schedule – 12 stages
• Day 1 – Monday 09 May 2022 – Hollywood, FL –> Jensen Beach, FL
• Day 2 – Tuesday 10 May 2022 – Jensen Beach, FL –> Cocoa Beach, FL
• Day 3 – Wednesday 11 May 2022 – Cocoa Beach, FL ->Daytona Beach, FL (CANCELLED)
• Day 4 – Thursday 12 May 2022 – Daytona Beach, FL -> Jacksonville Beach, FL
• Day 5 – Friday 13 May 2022 – Jacksonville Beach, FL –> Tybee Island, GA
• Day 6 – Saturday 14 May 2022 – Tybee Island, GA (lay day)
• Day 7 – Sunday 15 May 2022 – Tybee Island, GA –> Folly Beach, SC
• Day 8 – Monday 16 May 2022 – Folly Beach, SC -> Surfside Beach, SC
• Day 9 – Tuesday 17 May 2022 – Surfside Beach, SC –> Wrightsville Beach, NC
• Day 10 – Wednesday 18 May 2022 – Wrightsville Beach, NC -> Atlantic Beach, NC
• Day 11 – Thursday 19 May 2022 – Atlantic Beach, NC -> Hatteras, NC
• Day 12 – Friday 20 May 2022 – Hatteras, NC -> Kill Devil Hills, NC
• Day 13 – Saturday 21 May 2022 – Kill Devil Hills, NC ->Virginia Beach, VA

Source: Beverley J Simmons

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