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Worrell 1000 Reunion Race update, Williams victorious in Bermuda

by David Schmidt 14 May 2019 16:00 BST May 14, 2019

As mentioned in last week's newsletter, Monday, May 6, 2019 marked the start of the Worrell 1000 Reunion Race. As its moniker implies, this race - which takes the fleet of Nacra 20 and Formula 18 catamarans almost 1,000 miles from Hollywood, Florida, to Virginia Beach, Virginia - heralds back to the original Worrell 1000, which began in October of 1974. Back then, of course, racers didn't have the benefit of electronics or modern search and rescue operations, but even now, 45 years later and loaded with modern technology, the challenge of racing small, open catamarans across almost 1,000 miles of North Atlantic brine is just as stiff today as it was during the Worrell 1000's heyday.

While it had been some 17 years since the Worrell 1000 was last sailed, the 2019 Reunion Race attracted three teams intent on both finishing the full course and giving the course record (71 hours, 32 minutes and 55 seconds), which was established in 2002 by Brian Lambert and Jamie Livingston, a serious push.

Given that the race has always been contested aboard blisteringly fast but extremely tender racing platforms, the race's founder's wisely envisioned the Worrell 1000 as a series of point-to-point stage races, where racers go hard on the water all day but then get the chance to sleep (or repair their steeds) ashore each night.

As of this writing, the three-strong fleet has completed more than half of their racetrack and is currently sailing off the South Carolina coast, near the North Carolina border.

While this is great news in terms of progress-bar updates, the hard-boiled reality for Cat in the Hat, TCDYC, and Team Australia is that the remaining miles have a well-earned reputation for battering boats.

Worse still, Cape Hatteras and its notorious weather serve as the race's final gatekeeper. According to the race's official schedule, racers should encounter these wild waters starting later this week, with racers expected to cross the finishing line on Saturday, May 18.

Sail-World wishes all Worrell 1000 Reunion Race contestants safe and speedy passage, and we highly encourage other racers and race organizers to consider trying more adventure-style racing. Based on what we have observed with the Race to Alaska (established 2015) and the Worrell 1000 Reunion Race, there's clearly an under-served segment of the sailing population with an appetite for racing that involves a bit more adrenaline and a little bit less windward-leeward sailing.

Not only are these races fun, but they also attract new and desperately needed blood to the sport.

Meanwhile, on the flipside of the competitive sailboat racing coin, Ian Williams (GBR) and his crew of Gerry Mitchell, Richard Sydenham, and Tom Powrie have claimed top prize in the prestigious Argo Group Bermuda Gold Cup, which just concluded on the waters off of this island nation on Saturday (May 11). For Williams, this represents his second win at this high-level match-racing competition, which is contested using International One Design boats.

Williams and company were joined on the winner's podium by skipper Johnie Berntsson (SWE) and his crew, and skipper Harry Price (AUS) and his squad.

"When I was getting into match racing, this was the first big event I came to in 1998," said Williams, in an official event communication. "This was the one you really wanted to win. To win in 2006 was huge for us, it was our first big win. I've been coming back since and always fell at the final hurdle. We traditionally struggle here. To win for the first time in 13 years is incredible."

Hats off to Williams and company for their proud win in Bermuda, and for once again demonstrating the power of gumption and commitment to match-racing excellence.

May the four winds blow you safely home.

David Schmidt
Sail-World.com North American Editor

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