Worrell 1000: Jacksonville Beach, FL to Tybee Island, GA – OBX Today

Worrell 1000: Jacksonville Beach, FL to Tybee Island, GA - OBX Today
(Courtesy Worrell 1000)

By Beverley Simmons

On Thursday morning, May 16, teams lined up on the beach in Jacksonville, Florida, ready to set sail on the longest leg of the event: JAX Beach to Tybee Island, GA – 120 miles. The forecast looked grim; Light, southerly breezes under bright, relentless, full sun ALL DAY. This leg would prove to be not only a physical & strategical challenge, but one of mental endurance as well.

Winds for the day were forecast to be light; 5-10 knots, with little chance of building. The wind direction would prove to be of a particular challenge: Throughout the entire leg, there was a mix of both on and off shore breezes that seemed to be converging into a “tunnel” along the rhumb line, and as the day progressed, the tracker showed teams taking a multitude of strategies; some took huge flyers, going far offshore while others played the rhumb line – with the remaining teams hugging the shore the entire leg.

At the end of the day, those who played very close to the rhumb made out the best; but in the end, all would try to converge west of that line with the exception of Rudy’s (Randy Smyth and Dalton Tebow) who would finish 6th after taking the longest flyer far east of it and gybing to the finish (well after dark) in a sharp east/southeast point of sail. No one would finish in daylight – The first place finisher, Team Australia 1 (Brett Burville & Max Putman) would glide to the finish at 10:40pm – The last? Team Meerkat at 1:44 a.m.

As the lay-day for the event changed to Folly Beach this year, all teams needed to be on the line and ready to go at 10am for the 6th leg to Folly. Tired and restless, teams faced a mercifully shorter leg; just 65-ish miles under full overcast skies. The wind? 8-10 knots from the southeast – PERFECT conditions for a spin reach that saw all teams sail straight up the shore with little gybing to speak off. The Race Committee fully expected another late finish – at least 6-7pm for the 1st boat to arrive – But the regatta-wind-Gods were kind…..

30 miles into the leg the wind dialed up to an amazing 15-20 knots with gusts to 25. The slow spin reach turned into a glorious sleigh ride with flat waters and gorgeous breeze. The Race Committee made it to the beach just an hour before the first boat and all would arrive in a big pack – Just 1 hour and 11 minutes separated the 1st from the 10th; many finishing within seconds of each other with some of the most spectacular action so far. 

Team Australia 1 and Cirrus/MM Sailing were neck-and-neck, just 1.5 miles offshore when the beach crowd gave a collective “WHOA!” As they watched Cirrus/MM Sailing cartwheel and go over, leaving Aussie 1 to come in 1st. Manu Bolougne and Mathieu Marfaing of Cirrus/MM Sailing would right the boat quickly and finish 2nd – a good thing as Team Australia 2 were right on their tail, finishing just 4 minutes behind them. Team Meerkat (Mark Modderman and Mike Siau) would come back strong from their last place, early morning finish the leg before, coming in 4th, less than 4 minutes behind Team Australia 2. Teams A Gentleman’s Agreement (Sam Carter & Ian Ray), OBX (Hardy Peters & James Eaton), TCDYC (Chris Green & Jean Bolougne), MLP (Gerard Loos & Andre Hauschke) & Germany (Stephan Rumpf & Christian Schultz) would all arrive within a short and exciting 7-minute timeframe, each team struggling to out of the finish line before the next would arrive. Team Rudee’s (Randy Smyth and Dalton Tebo) would come in 10th, reporting rudder issues that they planned to sort out during the lay-day. 

Rounding out the finishes, about 1 hour after the rest of the fleet was Roo in the Hat (Brett White & Larry Ferber) whose tack line for the spinnaker broke early on in the race and were robbed of the lovely spin-reach sailing the rest of the teams had enjoyed. Even so, both were laid-back and positive – for the cameras, at least. Because after all, they all could enjoy a late night of socializing and sleeping in on Saturday, with most reporting little to light boat repairs needed. But rest assured – all are fully aware that the race is not a foregone conclusion – Overall standings are as tight as can be and it would take just one mistake to put a team back hours with no real guarantee they won’t fall a place or more in the standings. Keep watch as we resume racing Sunday, May 19th – 10am sharp for the leg from Folly beach to Surfside SC. 

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