2024 Worrell 1000 catamaran race underway, OBX bound

[Courtesy WorrellRace.com]

By Beverley Worrell 

The 23rd running of the world-famous Worrell 1000 extreme, distance catamaran race got underway Sunday, May 12th in Hollywood Beach Florida. Twelve teams representing the US, Germany, France, The Netherlands and Australia launched from the beach at 10am, officially beginning the race’s 50th Anniversary event. With the first two legs completed, and the 3rd underway as of the writing of this article, the Worrell has seen phenomenal racing conditions, one of the fastest legs ever in the recorded history of the event, and yes – even a few injuries. 

Leg 1, Hollywood to Jensen Beach Florida had the racers facing 10-15 knot winds from the N/NE that would slowly clock south throughout the day, giving the racers a mix of tight, jib-reach points of sail to spinnaker runs the last 1/3 of the course. Wind speeds held steady all day, under gorgeous, sunny skies and the first to arrive, Team Australia 1, came in to cheering crowds in 6 hours, 22 minutes and 47 seconds. Team Australia 2 would come in less than 2 minutes later and the majority of the fleet would follow suit; some finishing seconds apart. Team Cirrus/MM Sailing, who started the day in the 11th position on the beach, fought their way through the pack to end the day in 3rd while the newest teams to the event, A Gentleman’s Agreement (Ian Ray and Sam Carter) & Meerkat (Mark Modderman & Mike Siau) had respectable 5th & 9th place showings. 

Leg 2, Jensen to Cocoa Beach would prove to be the polar opposite off the 2022 race – Winds from the most favorable direction (SE) and 12-15 knots that increased over 20 with higher gusts gave the racers the sleigh-ride-kite-fest these f18 sailors love. With some drama at the start, team MLP would brake their starboard rudder arm in the surf, forcing them to make a quick return to the beach for a replacement. 20 minutes later, their ground crew along with volunteers from other teams, had them back on their way. Team Australia 2 would suffer a loss of one their ground crew for the rest of the event, as pusher Chuck Thole brought his right foot down hard on the trailing edge of the starboard rudder, causing a nasty gash that would require surgery and 22 stitches. By the end of the day, Rod Waterhouse, Team Manager for team Aussie 1 would report he was patched up, in good spirits and willing to come along for the entire event. About halfway through the 90 mile leg, the gusty winds would cause at least four competitors to flip, causing a major shift in the placements for the leg. The big mover and shaker in the group? Team Meerkat, who was in a comfortable 4th place at the time of the flip, 10th once they got going again, and would dog-fight their way back up to finish 6th for the day – moving them up two places to 7th in the overall standings. But the most exciting story of the day was the leg’s elapsed times: Aussie 1 would hit the beach in just 4 hours, 13 minutes and 59 seconds – the fastest time for a leg in the event’s recorded history!

Leg 3, which started this morning at 10 from Cocoa to Daytona Beach under moderate winds and moderate sea-state, also had its share of drama yet again. Team Meerkat would immediately return to the beach to repair a spinnaker cleat on the mast that was ripped out while attempting the first kite launch. Their expansive and very experienced ground crew had new holes drilled, augmented, with a new cleat riveted into place in 18 minutes and they were back on their way. Team A Gentleman’s Agreement had a hard time navigating the surf, almost flipping just 50 yards off the beach, but got it under control – only to pitch-pole shortly after getting off the sandbars and launching the spin. They did manage to right the boat quickly, relaunch the spin and take off to chase the rest of the fleet. 

The race committee, volunteers and crews arrived at Daytona about 12:30pm to strong thunderstorms and driving rain – a system moving dangerously close to the approaching fleet. With the live tracking available on the event’s website (worrell1000race.com), the PRO & RC are able to keep an “eye” on the teams, and guesstimate fairly well when the first boats will arrive. At 1:34 ET, team manager for Babysitting Robots called the PRO to state his team had dismasted approximately 30 miles from the finish. The Coast Guard was on station quickly and both sailors are safe with their ground crew on the way to retrieve them. Stay tuned folks……the finish at Daytona is gonna be a dosed….

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