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Zack Leonard
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The Worrell 1000—Coming to a Town near You

The odds-on favorite has to be Team Blockade Runner with five-time victor Randy Smyth, 45, and current Inter 20 National Champion, Matt Struble, 27.
The Worrell 1000 is an obsession. Australian racers Brett Dryland and Rod Waterhouse are back for their third attempt, determined to unseat perennial champion Randy Smyth. "He's beaten us the last two years; we've had our chances but we let them slip away. This year the boats are one-designs, so it will be more even. We're really prepared. We've been on ferocious diets and we've had a hard physical training program."

This 1,000-mile endurance race up the coast from Ft. Lauderdale, FL, to Virginia Beach, VA, deals out physical scars like the Boy Scouts do merit badges. It can leave unlucky or unprepared sailors with a glassy stare signifying an unwelcome meeting with the creator and some hasty negotiation to avoid imminent repayment of an overdue karmic debt. Ask Jamie Livingston, who's back this year despite an epic cartwheel capsize onto the beach at Cape Hatteras two years ago. "I was hanging on to the shroud 15 feet in the air thinking, 'hang on until the carnival ride stops, and then get off.' You don't want to be attached to a big piece of equipment that's flailing out of control on the beach!" Gerard Loos of Holland succinctly puts the race into perspective: "The first year [I did the race] we lost five boats to the surf on the first leg. If you have really good teamwork, you might make it to the finish."

Each May some 40 sailors sign on for the toughest, orneriest sailboat race this side of the Volvo Ocean Race. The challenge? Sail a small beach catamaran 1,000 miles up the east coast of the United States. The prize? Finishing.

The Worrell 1000 is a 12-stage distance race that begins today, May 8, on the broad, sunny beaches of Ft. Lauderdale and careens up the coast in roughly 80-mile chunks to finish in Virginia Beach. Along the way, the beaches of Florida give way to the wetlands and salt marshes that make up the tidewater region of Georgia and South Carolina. As the cold northern currents meet the gulfstream, the coastline becomes a dangerous graveyard of unmarked sandbars and shoal-water breaks off the outer banks of North Carolina. Then finally, the fleet parades to the finish at Virginia Beach where the lucky ones—those who do finish—can celebrate, while the unlucky weigh their resolve and begin planning a better attempt for next year. For this reason the Worrell 1000 has been called the X Games of sailing—one of the sport's truly extreme events. In 1998 only seven of the 21 entrants reached the finish. It's a race whose extreme conditions have broken masts, washed sailors overboard, and even pulverized entire boats into small bits of fiberglass and aluminum. But a small, rabidly loyal group of enthusiasts continues to embrace this odyssey, building it into an event that is coming of age.

For the first time in 17 editions of this marathon, sailors will compete aboard identical Inter 20 catamarans.
The Worrell 1000 was born of a barroom bet at Worrell Bros., the Virginia Beach resort-restaurant that belonged to Michael and Chris Worrell. On October 1, 1974, Michael Worrell and crew Steve McGarrett set out on a 20-day journey that covered 1,000 miles and crossed the paths of two hurricanes. When they pulled their crippled Hobie 16 up on the beach in Ft. Lauderdale, they had more or less won the wager. In 1976 four other teams signed up for the first Worrell Bros. Coastwise Race as it was then called. Now 24 years and 17 races later, Mike Worrell has refined his concept and the world has finally caught up to his vision. The smashing popularity of outdoor adventure sports has shined a spotlight on the Worrell 1000.

Today the race attracts a broad spectrum of sailors, including beach cat champions, Olympic sailing medalists, professionals from Europe and Australia, and even veterans of the Whitbread and America's Cup arenas. Despite the Worrell 1000's humble roots, this collective talent pool is quickly reshaping the race into a highly professional and hotly contested event. Most of this year's teams are backed by commercial sponsors, but there is also a large group of less professional sailors who are chasing more personal goals. Even the favorites admit the first objective is simply to finish, but the physical strain and mental fatigue that accompany the race attract some sailors who just want to test their limits and, hopefully, finish.

Spanning almost 1,000 miles, the course demands that competitors transit some of America's most forbidding coastline off Cape Hatteras, NC.
After today's 10:00 a.m. start, the fleet will work its way up the coast of Florida, making stops at Jensen Beach, Cocoa Beach, Daytona Beach, and Jacksonville Beach. Then the race hops to Tybee Island, GA (the longest leg at 121 miles), where the course really gets tough. In light winds, an 80-mile leg might take 18 hours and leave the competitors burnt and dehydrated. In stronger breeze, the fleet may cover the distance in six hours, effortlessly clicking off the miles. Some days bring thunder squalls with 40-knot gusts and breaking seas that test the endurance and seamanship of the sailors. But Tybee is the start of the first overnight leg. At 6:00 p.m. on Saturday, May 13, the fleet departs Tybee for the 83-mile race to Isle of Palms, SC. Then the following evening, a second overnight leg will take the sailors north to Myrtle Beach, SC. After a transition day, the race switches back to daytime mode with legs to Wrightsville Beach, NC, Atlantic Beach, NC, Cape Hatteras, NC, Kill Devil Hills, NC, and then to the finish at Virginia Beach, VA.

The back-to-back overnight legs of the Worrell 1000 are like the Alps in the Tour de France bicycle marathon. If the race is close, the night legs will usually determine the winner. Two-time runner-up Brett Dryland says: "The night legs are really hard; you can't sail the fleet; you can't see anything." Skipping over the water into the darkness with nothing but a handheld GPS to guide you can be quite dicey. Sometimes the moon is bright, other times the sky is deep black. Jamie Livingston recalls a dark night last year when he was clipping along at 15 knots with phosphorescence flying off the bows like flames and a long thin wake of glitter marking the wake of the two narrow hulls. "We were in the middle of the ocean, and with no warning another boat emerged from the dark only 20 feet away and disappeared just like that; we didn't see them again until the finish."



20' (6.10m)


8' 6" (2.59m)

Mast Length

32' (8.13m)


390 lbs. (177kg)

Mainsail with Mast

193 sq. ft. (18m2)


53 sq. ft. (4.15m2)


270 sq. ft. (23m2)


Vinylester foam, sandwich hulls

This year the race will be sailed in the new Inter 20 class, a high-performance, double-trapeze beach catamaran with a powerful sailplan that includes a large, asymmetrical spinnaker. The Inter 20 is capable of speeds approaching 30 miles per hour in heavy wind. But the boat is somewhat untried in ocean sailing and some competitors wonder if it will be as seakindly as the Nacra 6.0s that were raced in years past. Some competitors think the boat may be more prone to pitchpole or nose-dive. John McLaughlin of Baltimore says: "When you really get into the power and it gets rushing, it's gonna want to go under."

Everyone's odds-on favorite to win this year is five-time champion Randy Smyth with crew Matt Struble. The 45-year-old Smyth is a two-time Olympic silver medalist from Ft. Walton Beach, FL, and a widely recognized guru among multihull racers. Along with Struble, who is the current Inter 20 National Champion, Smyth hopes to win his fifth straight Worrell and sixth overall. Two-time winners Brett Dryland and Rod Waterhouse of Australia have been runners-up the past two years and are eager to upset Smyth. The Dutch team of Gerard Loos and Mischa Heemskerk has finished as high as third in the Worrell 1000, and they're certain they can improve. And some talented beach cat sailors from Florida are in the running, represented by Brian Lambert, Jamie Livingston, Kevin Smith, Glenn Holmes, Stephan Lohmayer, and Kenny Pierce, among others. The wildcards in this race will be the Whitbread contingent, led by Paul van Dyke of Groton, CT, and Richard Deppe and Tom Weaver of Annapolis, MD, all former crew aboard Chessie Racing. These sailors have small-boat experience on their resumes, but none of the three have put in much time aboard beach cats recently. Still, their seamanship, navigation, and ocean-racing skills could make them very competitive in the tough going.

Today at 10:00 a.m., the shore crews pushed their teams off the beach and began 12 days of grueling ocean sailing. It's hard to tell what will happen in the next two weeks, but you can be sure that the course will challenge the sailors. SailNet will carry periodic reports and the Worrell 1000 organizers will post updated results each evening at Stay tuned.

The Players

Team Name

(Years in the Race)




Alexander's on the Beach
Hans H. Meijer

Brian J. Lambert (3rd)
Jamie B. Livingston (3rd)



Ft Walton Beach, FL
Miami, FL



Blockade Runner Restaurant
Paula Smyth

Randy L. Smyth (7th)
Matt H. Struble (2nd)



Ft Walton Beach , FL
Bay City, MI

Sail Designer
Foundry Operations Mgr.

Cat Fever/ Calcutta's Restaurant
Gary E. Hall

Barton J. "Bart" Hall (2nd)
Todd A. Hart (2nd)



Plymouth, MI

Richmond, VA



Cat House
John E. Williams

Steve E. Hast (1st)
Chris Sawyer (1st)



Lynn Haven, FL

Pensacola, FL


Georgette Haverluk

Brendan G. Busch (1st)
Scott D. Klodowski (1st)



La Honda, CA

Long Beach, CA

Software Design
National Sales Manager

Chick's Beach USA

W. F. "WF" Oliver III (1st)


Virginia Beach, VA

Owner Construction Co


Paul Butler (1st)
Gary Smith (1st)


Christchurch, UK
Christchurch, UK

Environmental Health

First Response
Mark Smith

Kevin R. Smith (2nd)
Glenn A. Holmes (2nd)



Shalimar, FL

Gulf Breeze, FL

U.S. Air Force


Trish Walcott

Sandra G. Tartaglino (2nd)
Carl D. Roberts (4th)



Redwood Shores, CA

Brighton, MI

Medical Devices

Residential Designer

Piet Heemskerk

Gerard A. Loos (3rd)
Mischa Heemskerk (1st)



Zandvoort, NED

Hague, NED

Professional Sailor
Catamaran Tuner


Michael Walker

Susan P. Korzeniewski (1st)
Davis G. Murray (1st)



Liverpool, NY

Saint Thomas, VI

Mgr Auto Wash

Compass Adjuster

Terry Greene

J. Jeffrey "Jay" Sonnenklar (1st)
Louis A. "Lou" Adiano (2nd)



Miami, FL

Orlando, FL

Owner Auto Franchise

Owner Upholstery Co.

NuClear Sails

Robert L. Hill (2nd)
Jamieson B. "Jamey" Rabbitt (1st)



Tampa, FL

Tampa, FL

Sail Maker

Sail Maker/

Outer Banks
Michael P. O'Brien

John R. McLaughlin (4th)
Robert A. "Peanut" Johnson (2nd)



Baltimore, MD

Nags Head, NC

Graphics Designer

Construction Supervisor

Premier Shutters
K. Marty Gray

Scott B. Hubel (2nd)
Dior Y. Hubel (1st)



Rockledge, FL

Rockledge, FL

Sail Boat Dealer
Senior Parachute Technician
Regan "Red" Edwards

Richard A. "Rick" Deppe (1st)
Tom M. Weaver (1st)



Annapolis, MD

Annapolis, MD

Boat Captain (Chessie Racing)
Professional Sailor

Rudee's Restaurant Michael Eason

Brett A. Dryland (7th)
Rod J. Waterhouse (10th)



Airlie Beach, Qld, AUS
Sydney, NSW, AUS


Director/Lock Co.

Terry Greene

William D'V. Sunnucks (1st)
Mark Self (1st)



Essex, UK

Harwich, UK

Finance Director
Sail Maker

Tybee Island Integra
Chuck Bargeron

James L. "Jim" Stone (2nd)
William D. "Bill" Wallace (1st)



Tybee Island, GA

Brunswick, GA

Co-owner Aerospace Co.
Engineer - Process Controls

Tybee Island G. B. "Chuck" Bargeron

Stephen G. "Steve" Lohmayer (3rd)
Kenneth A. "Kenny" Pierce (2nd)



Tavernier, FL

Hialeah, FL


Warehouse Manager

van Dyke Racing
Tad Palmer

Paul "Whirly" van Dyke (1st)
Brad Cavanaugh (1st)



Groton, CT

Plymouth, MA

Professional Yacht Racer

Wormwood Performance Yachts

Mark G. Murray (3rd)
Tomas "Tommy" Gonzales (1st)



Gulf Breeze, FL

Miami, FL

Co-owner Boat Manufacturer
Yacht Master

Gregg Fyffe

Enrique Figueroa (3rd)


San Juan, PR

Sailboat Dealer

Tina Korakis

Alexander "Alex" Korakis Jr. (2nd)
Scott C. MacDonald (2nd)



Tampa, FL

Columbus, OH

Maritime Supplier

Sail Maker

John Killeen

John C. Lovell III (1st)
Charles F. "Charlie" Ogletree (1st)



New Orleans, LA

Newport Beach, CA


Sail Maker

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