2022 Worrell 1000 kicks off first leg in Florida: Hollywood to Jensen Beach

[Courtesy Worrell 1000 Race Facebook]

Report from Beverley Simmons: The Sunday evening Skipper’s meeting began with a remembrance of those Worrell Alum we have lost. Afterward, individuals were encouraged to offer names, a moment of silence in their honor was observed.

The meeting followed, as such skipper’s meetings do, and ended with the official team weigh-ins where no one escaped their total crew weight announcement. Overall, the mood was good. Spirits were high and everyone was looking forward to the start the next morning.

Monday, May 9th, brought a steady Northeast breeze with a small, 2-foot shore break. Following the morning briefing, a general, rising tension was evident throughout the fleet. The leg was looking to be a steady, upwind beat: not what the sailors were hoping for. There are a lot of seasoned, Worrell Vets rubbing elbows with 1st timers, but even the veterans were not immune to the pervasive apprehension.

The 1st horn sounded, signaling 1 minute to the official 5-minute start sequence. It was getting real fast. Boats inched and slid forward nervously. Sailors ran around their boats, yelling orders at ground crews. Were they getting close to over early? The RC had set a generous line and cautioned the fleet to comply with the sailing instructions, requiring them to stay within their lane through the surf. Today? A port start was dictated by the Beach Captain that was done so for safety. Down to one minute to the start. The excitement was catching on. Onlookers starting cheering and yelling and the team “pushers” were at the ready.

The final horn sounds and off they went – seeming to have a hard time getting through the surf at a good pace, some bobbed and floundered. Others – took off and were double trapped within minutes of the start. A collision between team Cat in the Hat and The Netherlands would prove to cripple both boats this day – Cat in the Hat coming back to the beach with a broken spinnaker pole and deciding to launch without replacing it. Team The Netherlands limped to the finish 11 hours later – behind Cat in the Hat by almost a full hour.

In Jensen – Team Rudee’s, skippered by 6-time Worrell Champion Randy Smyth with his crew, Dalton Tebo finished 1st in 6 hours 28 minutes and 25 seconds – A full 35 minutes ahead of the 2nd place finisher, Team Fast Forward Composites, Skippered by yet another Worrell Alum, Tommy Gonzales with crew Sam Ingham in 6 hours, 53 minutes and 33 seconds. 3rd to the finish was the defending champion, Team Australia – Rod Waterhouse and Chris Way – coming in at 6 hours, 57 minutes and 4 seconds. Why so precise? Because in this race seconds can mean the difference between a Worrell Championship and a loss.

With a foreboding forecast for Tuesday, the fleet wrapped up the day in the dark, arranging their boats to comply with local sea turtle protection ordinances and carrying flashlights to police up their gear and parts before retiring for the night. Some folks were fortunate enough to enjoy a civilized dinner time and rest. Others not so much. What will the next leg bring? It only takes one bad flip in the surf to completely change things around.

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