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2001 Worrell 1000 - Leg 5 Finish

by Zack Leonard 11 May 2001 08:29 BST

Lambert and Livingston Sweep Florida Legs

Boats start out into the surf
Photo ©: Walter Cooper

Brian Lambert and Jamie Livingston of Alexander's on the Bay held off Rod Waterhouse and Katie Pettibone of Guidant to win their fifth straight leg and build on their overall lead. Lambert and Livingston led from the start and built a 15-minute advantage, but Waterhouse and Pettibone had superior speed in lighter wind and reeled in the leaders as the breeze died at the end of the day. "In the puffs we would pull away and in the lulls they would chase us down," said a smiling Livingston. The wind never built above 10 knots and frequently dropped as low as 5 knots. The still lumpy seas were frustrating to many of the sailors.

A tired David Lennard of Sail for Sight lamented the conditions, "[the sea breeze] never came in and we were just too heavy."

The wind angle was North of East until the last 5 miles of the leg. Early in the race the fleet couldn't quite parallel the shore on starboard tack, causing the boats to sail short port tacks to get away from the shore and then tack back to starboard to stay on the longer tack. Most of the sailors agreed that it was important to stay just the right distance off shore. "If you get too close to the beach you get headed in a shore effect," noted Nigel Pitt of Tommy Bahama, "and if you get too far off shore you seemed to have less breeze." This caused the boats to sail upwind in a small band of wind within 3/4 of mile of the beach most of the day.

With the change in wind conditions there were some new faces at the front of the pack. Pitt and Shafer of Tommy Bahama finished third and Kirk Newkirk and Glenn Holmes of Key Sailing came in 4th. Team Fully Involved had another strong leg to finish 5th followed by Castrol, Dinghy Shop and Pyacht Men. The top group had a strong Floridian flavor today. Four of the five teams hail from the sunshine state or sail there regularly. "We were back in our element," noted Pitt, "we're starting to figure out how to sail this boat in the lumpy conditions."

As with any high-performance boat, crew weight is an important factor in boat speed, but each boat has specific characteristics that require unique techniques. Six-time Worrell 1000 Champion Randy Smyth explained some secrets to the Inter 20. "Upwind in light air it's important to keep the big sections of the bow above the water without sinking the sterns. Fore and aft weight placement is key. These are the conditions where it is most difficult to sail the boat heavy. Downwind in light air, the weight doesn't seem to hurt as much."

Smyth has just returned from sailing around the world in "the Race" aboard Team Adventure. After 5 months away from his family he was not able to make the race this year. When asked how he would have faired in this year's event Smyth laughed, "it's been nice reading about it on the cover of my paper each morning. I guess if we rolled the dice right and picked the right time to leave the beach in the waves, we'd be doing OK."

After winning the first five leg, Brian Lambert and Jamie Livingston probably deserve and introduction. Lambert is an architect from the Fort Walton Beach area of the Florida Panhandle. A multiple Nacra Champion, Lambert spent some time in the Tornado and is a regular fixture in the Florida cat circuit. His local fleet is strong. Smyth, Lambert, Newkirk, Bob Curry and a bunch of other top cat sailors all live in the area and have good racing year round. Livingston is a Computer Programmer from Miami, but he's probably spent more time riding on the side of a catamaran than any one in North America over the past 20 years. He's been a member of the US sailing team in the Tornado class many times and pops up at nearly every catamaran event in Florida each year. Both sailors have completed the Worrell 1000 4 times.

The surf shrunk to 4 feet by the finish today. Local surfers were still having a field day, but the landing wasn't very difficult for the sailors. Rod Waterhouse, of Guidant, put on a clinic in light air beach landings at the finish. Guidant gained at least a minute on Lambert and Livingston with a slippery approach to the finish. Waterhouse and Pettibone were the first to set a spinnaker as the wind went South of East near the finish line. They reached parallel to the surf just outside the break, generating at least 8 knots of boat-speed on starboard tack, then gybed to port perpendicular to the beach just as a large wave rolled under them. The boat turned the 8 knots of speed into a surfing safari and Pettibone slowly gybed the spinnaker without collapsing it as they accelerated down the wave with their sterns perfectly square to the surf. The boat coasted across the line going almost twice the wind-speed. It was a work of art.

Team Tybee Island suffered a broken rudder at the start today but decided to try to race with it in the light wind. As they tacked up the beach they had to remove the good rudder and switch it from hull to hull to keep it on the leeward side. Finally they admitted defeat and came to the beach where their shore crew did a record pit stop and pushed them back into the fray. Lohmayer and Pierce were early favorites and have suffered a lot of bad luck, but they've continued to fight.

As the sun goes down over Jacksonville Beach the Worrell 1000 prepares to say goodbye to Florida. Florida was all a blur as café con leche and Ricky Martin gave way to Daytona's checkered flags and Confederate Flag emblazoned beach-wear. The Saltwater Cowboy north of Flagler Beach stirred images of lazy, blue-jean clad cowboys in 10-gallon hats tending quiet rods in the surf. A dead armadillo lay on the side of the road just south of Jacksonville Beach as Charlie Daniels' "The Devil went down to Georgia" permeated the airwaves. Florida has something for everyone.

The next leg is the longest of the race at 121 miles. It will bring the fleet farther off shore than they have ranges yet. The beaches of Florida's Barrier Island will give way to the wetlands and deltas of the Georgia coast. It will be a long day. We'll have a report from the start with more detailed weather information.

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