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2001 Worrell 1000 - Leg 7 Finish

by Zack Leonard 13 May 2001 09:46 BST

Lightning Strikes

As the shore crews and race officials waited on the beach for the boats to finish, Walter Cooper blew it for everybody. Walter is the official photographer for the race and he is lucky enough to ride in a helicopter to take pictures while the rest of us kick sand and try to guess what's happening out on the water. When Walter lands he usually gets to the beach just as anticipation among the fans is approaching a fever pitch. Then he tells you! He tells you who was leading when he broke off to watch the finish. The whole fun of watching is the anticipation and anxiety that builds up prior to identifying the approaching boats.

The fleet started this evening in a Southerly breeze and made great time towards Isle of Palms for 50 miles until a cold front arrived from the Northwest. Sailing the last 18-25 miles upwind added at least an hour to the finishing times of the fleet, making a leg record impossible.

Today's leg was tricky. Everyone knew that the cold front was approaching, but when would it hit? Brian Lambert and Jamie Livingston of Alexander's again mastered the fleet, protecting the inshore side of the course in case the wind shifted Northwest. The boats were running about 75 degrees on Starboard gybe, about 20 degrees above the lay line to the finish. Some of the sailors thought the breeze would be stronger off-shore, so they continued on Starboard, away from the shore. Some thought the wind would shift Northwest, so they gybed to port and stayed just on the inside of the rhumb line. "We kept gybing and gybing to stay close to the rhumb line. We didn't want to go outside today," said an exuberant Brian Lambert.

Alexander's was followed by Team Castrol who also staying to the inside of the rhumb line. But Lexis Nexis finished third, sailing far outside of the rhumb line. The next 3 boats all sailed the inside of the course.

The view from the beach was eerie, as amber bolts of lightning flicked on and off, illuminating the approaching boats for a split second. The boats were invisible until 100 yards off-shore, but the occasional flash of lightning would allow a subliminal glimpse of the finishers. Jay Sonnenklar of Team Castrol liked the lightning, "when it flashed, it kind of made it easier, we could see the other boats and the shoreline."

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