By Joy Crist, Island Free Press
After a two-year hiatus, one of the most iconic and dangerous sailboat races in the world is once again heading to Hatteras Island, with event organizers already gearing up for the May 2022 competition.
In the past week, organizers of the Worrell 1000 Race announced the unveiling of a new logo, and stated that the 2022 competition has already garnered plenty of attention. In the 2019 race, just three boats competed, and the event was subsequently canceled in 2020 and 2021 due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
But for 2022, 17 teams have already signed up to participate in the East Coast race, representing six countries from around the globe.
The Worrell Race technically began in 1974, when the race’s namesake, Michael Worrell, was having a conversation and a few beers with sailing buddies, and the topic turned to the improbability of sailing a catamaran vessel up the East Coast.
That initial beer-fueled conversation turned into action, and two years later in 1976, the inaugural Worrell Brothers Coastwise Race was launched with a total of four teams.
Growing in popularity, the race quickly became a fixture on the sailing scene in the 26 years that followed, and it became world-renowned among sailors with an adventurous inclination.
Prior to 2019, the last time that the Worrell Race was held was in 2002, when it featured roughly 25 teams, and was covered in-depth for the May 27, 2002 issue of Sports Illustrated magazine. Unfortunately, after the 2002 run, the race was quietly canceled in 2003, and more or less disappeared from modern memory in the nearly two decades that followed.
But the Worrell 1000 reappeared in May of 2019 to the delight of global sailing fans, as well as local Hatteras Island spectators who flocked to the Frisco beach when the competing teams made an overnight stop along their 1,000-mile journey.
Now, visitors will have another opportunity to catch the show, with the 17 teams once again planning a Hatteras Island overnight visit
The rules of the race are deceivingly simple. From southern Florida, competitors head north up the coastline, stopping at 13 checkpoint stops along the way, (including Frisco), before finishing at the Virginia Beach oceanfront. The race plays out in multiple stages, (from checkpoint to checkpoint), and the team with the shortest overall combined time wins.
Hatteras Island is at the last leg of the journey, and the competing teams traditionally roll onto the beach close to ORV Ramp 49 in Frisco before they launch the following day, making a treacherous run north around Cape Point, and through the Diamond Shoals.
With two months to go, islanders and May visitors have ample to plan for the competitors’ Outer Banks arrival, and to cheer on these adventurous sailors as they pay a visit to our local shoreline.
“The race is approaching its 50th year anniversary, and although the event did not take place during each and every one of those 50 years, it has stood not only the test of time, but endured many format changes, growing pains, logistical and planning issues, and more than its fair share of drama,” stated the event organizers in a press release.
For more information on the Worrell 1000 Race, and to keep up with the action in the weeks leading up to the 2022 event, visit https://worrell1000race.com/.