Beverley Simmons report: The start of leg 9 of this 2022 Worrell 1000 saw very light northerly winds – 5 knots and slightly less – which meant the fleet was looking forward to a drama-free 10am launch.
As the race clock hit zero, all were easily pushed through the small waves, with the fleet quickly settling in – Team The Clean Sailors were in pole position after their thrilling 1st place the day before and took advantage of that early lead. However, minutes after the start the Allen team (William Sunnucks and Mark Self) had stalled, a sailor leaned over the starboard rudder trying to fix an obvious problem. They eventually returned to the beach and found that the spring clip that holds the rudder in place had broken. Within 8 minutes several ground crews came to their aid, tied the sunken rudder in place with a piece of dyneema line, and with that – they pushed back and were on their way with plenty of time to catch up with the fleet. .
Packing up to leave, the Rocket 88 Racing ground crew discovered that their beach wheels had broken and were googled for parts to do the repair themselves. As fate would have it 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 his back – his shop was just down the road and he was happy to help. When they arrived, Rich pulled out his trophy from that era race and told his Worrell war stories as he worked. It seems that this salty dog really enjoyed being “part” of this legendary breed again. With the wheels set and squared, he sent them chasing their team to Wrightsville.
The leg that day would prove sore for most as the winds, light and lighter throughout the day, quickly died away as the evening deepened. By 9 p.m., only 6 of the fleet of 13 had finished – leaving 7 boats to sail under a rising full moon and mere gusts of wind too, blowing them around Frying Pan Shoals and the signaling Rocky point just 2 miles from the arrival. Teams The Netherlands and The Clean Sailors had gambled on compressing the shoreline, sailing along the beach, while the rest of the fleet would continue out to sea for almost forty miles before tacking to avoid shoals. The squeeze ashore didn’t pay off, and both crews were easily passed by the rest of the fleet, finishing 10th (The Clean Sailors) and 13th (Netherlands). It would be after 1 a.m. when everyone could relax, knowing the teams were all safely ashore.
It is important to note that although 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 to watching the small group of young men aged 14 and up, all with seemingly limitless energy – constantly staying with the race committee at every stage, staying on the beach to help the boats until the whole last ends. Although they came from a number of different teams, they clearly developed a sense of camaraderie, infected with the spirit of the Worrells and the hope that all 13 teams would reach the finish in Virginia Beach. We hope to see them at the helm of these boats in the near future…
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