Report by Beverley Simmons: The start of leg 9 of this 2022 Worrell 1000 saw very light, Northerly winds – 5 knots and a little less – which meant that the fleet was looking forward to a drama-free launch at 10 a.m..
As the race clock hit zero, all were pushed through the small surf easily, with the fleet settling in quickly – Team The Clean Sailors were in the Pole position after their exciting 1st place finish the day before and were enjoying that early lead. Within minutes of the start however, Team Allen (William Sunnucks and Mark Self) had stalled, one sailor bent down over the starboard rudder trying to fix an obvious issue. They wound up heading back to the beach and found that the spring clip that holds the rudder in place had broken. Within 8 minutes, multiple ground crews came to their aid, tied the rudder casting in place with a piece of dyneema line, and with that – they pushed back out and were on their way with lots of time to make up behind the fleet.
Packing up to leave, the ground crew for Rocket 88 Racing found that their beach wheels had broken and were searching Google for parts to make the repair themselves. As fate would have it, a Worrell Veteran, Rich Glenn of the 1979 Worrell Race, was on-hand to watch the start this morning. Seeing what was happening, he told the teams he had their back – his shop was just down the road and he was happy to help. When they arrived, Rich pulled out his trophy from that race way-back-when and relayed his Worrell war stories as he worked. It seems this salty dog really enjoyed becoming “part” of this legendary race yet again. With the wheels fixed & squared away, he sent them off to chase their team to Wrightsville.
The leg this day would prove painful for most, as the winds, light and more light throughout the day, were quickly dying as the evening deepened. By 9pm only 6 of the fleet of 13 had finished – leaving 7 boats to navigate their way under a full moon rising and mere breaths of wind too get them around Frying Pan Shoals and the Rocky point that signaled just 2 miles to the finish. Teams The Netherlands and The Clean Sailors had gambled on shore-compression, sailing along the beach, while the rest of the fleet would continue out to sea for nearly forty miles before making a lay-line tack to avoid the Shoals. The shore compression did not pay, and the two teams were passed easily by the rest of the fleet, finishing in 10th (The Clean Sailors) and 13th (The Netherlands). It would be after 1 a.m. before all were able to relax, with the knowledge that the teams were all ashore safe.
It’s important to note, that while we have a handful of Worrell Veterans, both sailing and acting as Ground Crew or Race Committee, what gives us the greatest hope for the future has been watching the small group of young men from ages 14 and up, all with seemingly boundless energy – constantly staying with the Race Committee each and every leg, remaining on the beach to help the boats until the very last one finishes. Although they’re from a number of different teams, they clearly have formed a sense of camaraderie, infected with the spirit of the Worrell, and the hope of all 13 teams reaching the finish in Virginia Beach. We hope to see them at the helms of these boats in the near future…
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