Report from Beverley Simmons: With forecasted winds of 15 to 20 knots from the North and a 4-6’ surf all expected to build, the 13 teams lined up at the start of an infamous Leg 2 of the Worrell 1000 knowing it was going to be a challenging day. It exceeded expectations.
When the starting horn blew, only about half the fleet launched into the surf while the remainder stayed back, counting waves, waiting for the optimal moment to begin pushing through. With a shore break and a reef break to conquer, there was a broad swath of white water each team had to contend with, and while a few made it through, most struggled unable to gain enough velocity to help them up, over and through the swells.
It took 18 minutes for the last few to finally reach open water and tack North, but Jensen did claim one victim: Team Allen, hailing from the UK, flipped and turtled in the surf, sticking their mast in the shallow, and had to be shoved by the unforgiving swells back to the beach. They were able to recover the majority of their rigging, and with little damage to the hulls, Skipper William Sunnucks and Crew Mark Self were surprisingly good-natured and optimistic. They made the plan to replace the mast, make their repairs and get on the line for the next leg’s start, jokingly renaming themselves “Team Wanker” (“…..we’re just Wankers for flipping in the surf!”)
With the fleet down to 12, the racers tacked a zigzag pattern up the coast all while the winds were approaching 30 knots with gusts up to 35 and 10 foot+ swells. The approach at Sebastian Inlet proved crippling for five more boats: Team Restream, Recreational8, and Netherlands made their way to the nearest shore landing they could find and called their ground crews asking for a lift to Cocoa Beach.
Team Outer Banks lost their skipper off the back of the boat and flipped due to a trapeze harness failure, but were fortunate enough to have Team Fast Forward Composites (still sailing with the pointy end up) come to render aid. They picked up the lost skipper and delivered him back to his boat, made sure they were ok and continued the race. Team Outer Banks made it to shore and also called it a day. Rounding out the five boats claimed by Sebastian was Team Rudee’s, dismasting and limping their way to shore and also calling in for a ride.
Seeing the worsening conditions, Team The Clean Sailors made the decision to enter the Inner Coastal Waterway at Sebastian Inlet seeking shelter and a safe landing. They found it and called for their ground crew and drove the rest of the way to Cocoa.
Down to 6 boats…
Larry Ferber and Zack Panetti of Cat in the Hat flipped, turtled and floated in just before the ICW, and were able to float to shore to also trailer the rest of the way. The Race Committee made a Facebook Live Stream at 5:41pm ET to let the world watching know that although we had more than half the fleet retire, all sailors were accounted for and safe. Back to the beach and diligent tracker watching, the remaining 5 boats were moving less than 10 knots in a blistering upwind jaunt with winds still building. At Melbourne, Team Way of Life from Germany decided to call it a day as well – making a safe landing on the beach to await their ground crew.
Down to 4…
It would be well after dark until the first boat arrived. Team Australia, Rod Waterhouse and Chris Way flipped in the dark, righted and made it through the finish line, lighted by flashlights and cell phones to a jubilant and thankful crowd. They didn’t realize they were the first to finish. Once realized, exhaustion turned to joyous exaltation and the crowd erupted again in applause and cheers.
3 boats still out there in the dark…
The trackers showed the remaining 3 were staying relatively close to shore, but moving slower. The second boat to finish this night would be Team Rocket 88 with Brendan Busch and Jeremy Boyette. They too, had no idea they finished in second. They were happy to hear the news, but seemed to want nothing more than a hot shower, some nosh and a beer. Shortly after that, the RC made the announcement to all via Facebook Live that the leg from Cocoa to Daytona would not be sailed. The racers were getting a break.
2 to go…
Team Sonnenklar and Team Fast Forward Composites looked like they were match racing, cross-tacking the shore line around each other until Sonnenklar decided to tack away from shore, leaving FFC to take the shoreline. Tommy Gonzales and Sam Ingham got a heaven’s gifted lift and made it to the finish almost a full 20 minutes ahead of Team Sonnenklar – just shy of 11pm. When Jared Sonnenklar and David Cerdas made it the beach in fourth place for the leg, they too had no idea they were only 1 of 4 boats to finish this day. Again, exhaustion made way to amazement and joy. The beating of the day seemed now, to be worth it. And, with the knowledge that they would not have to face more of the same beating less than 12 hours away, the plan for additional “consumption” ensued.
It was around 2am when the boats were all trailered and ready for the caravan to Daytona. With the knowledge that the standing course record would not be challenged this year, all crept thankfully away to their rented beds. After all, sunrise brings another day.
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