Report by Beverley Simmons: Shortly after Team Australia sailed to the finish as just 1 of 4 boats to conquer the Jensen to Cocoa Beach leg, John Williams, the event PRO (Principal Race Officer) came on Facebook Live to let the rest of the world in on what he had already told the fleet: The following day’s leg has been called. No racing – all will be trailering to Daytona.
Although the racers were collectively relieved (Mommy Nature’s foul mood was still causing havoc), the main reason for the decision was logistics.
The Organizing Authority chose this location for the Daytona checkpoint for two reasons: The hotel was located on a favorable area of beach that could accommodate all boats, and was adjacent to a wide, beach access point from the nearby parking lot. Now, that last item is something that is rarely needed, especially if the racers are able to sail to the beach and launch off the beach as planned. But we all saw how that turned out…
As the day went on, it was clear that we would need to get the boats that retired and trailered to this checkpoint on to the beach for the following day’s start. One arrived we attempted. We were met by a private business owner who denied us access. They insisted that they maintained SOLE control of the beach access at that point. With the next nearest one a mile away and the fact that we would still have to cross over their “private” area of beach to get there. What to do?
Chuck Bargeron, Worrell Director of Research, Development & Logistics had to work some magic with local authorities. No easy feat. It took all day—and well into the night—to get local law enforcement to agree to escort the 4 boats that DID make it by way of sea to Cocoa Beach through that access point so they could trailer to Daytona with the rest of the fleet. There were some very tense hours when we thought we may have to gather the troops and carry the four boats on our collective shoulders over the narrow boardwalk over the dunes (massively overgrown with vegetation, by the way).
It’s a shame that it had to be this way. The actual time it took to get those four boats through that access point was less than an half an hour. A half hour between 1 and 2 a.m. when all the rest of Cocoa Beach were peacefully asleep, not knowing or caring that four boats on trailers were going through, “taking up space”.
In the end, all the fleet made it to Daytona—by way of the paved ribbon—and got their boats on the beach without any hassles. The Ocean Deck Bar and Restaurant provided an awesome buffet-style dinner on our own private pavilion. The stress of the previous day’s events melted away amid the drinks, the nosh and the Worrell fans and past competitors who stopped by to mingle with current ones. One gal even brought vintage Worrell event t-shirts – Signed by Michael Worrell, Lee Queensbury, Rick Bliss, Sandra Tartaglino and more. Yep. Good folks far outnumber the bad. On to the next…
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