Rough weather scatters the fleet at the start of Leg 2 - Tartaglino and Weaver suffer fractured legs at the finish of Leg 1
Many of the competitors were late for the beach start and rushed to push off the beach into a rugged and confused 5 foot surf at Ft. Lauderdale beach this morning. Yesterday’s rough weather left many teams disorganized and scrambling as they hurried to fix boat and gear problems before this morning’s start. A 15 -20 knot East/Northeasterly will propel the fleet up the beach today to the finish at Jensen Beach. The leg should be mostly on the wind and the Inter 20 class beach cats should cruise at speeds of 10 -14 knots.
The three teams at the windward end of the Le Mans style starting line were all big and experienced. Brian Lambert and Jamie Livingston earned the pole position by winning yesterdays opening leg in a 20 knot Northeasterly breeze. They were trailed by Carl Roberts and David Lennard and Steve Lohmayer and Kenny Pierce of Team Tybee Island. The entire top half of the fleet finished in a tight pack, but the real story of day one was the beach landing at the finish.
Team Guident, sailed by former Worrell 1000 winner Rod Waterhouse of Sydney Australia, and Sandra Tartaglino of Redwood Shores, CA, dug their bows into the sand and “pitchpoled” into the beach at the finish, catapulting Tartaglino at high speed and resulting in multiple fractures to her leg. Tartaglino appeared to become tangled in some rigging and was heaved forward as the boat stopped abruptly. Her leg was wedged in place. She will face surgery this morning. As Tartaglino was assisted by a trained EMT on the shore crew of Team P-Yacht, Tom Weaver and Rick Deppe of P-Yacht landed in the surf and attempted to push their boat through the finish line. A large wave lifted their boat and dropped it onto Weaver’s leg, breaking his fibula just above the ankle. Weaver sported a cast on the beach this morning as he cheered on Deppe and replacement crew Christophe Ribot of France. Ribot is an experienced multihull sailor who operates a catamaran rental shop on Key Biscayne and has spent time sailing with Katie Pettibone and Eleanor Hay in preparation for their run at the Worrell. Tartaglino has been replaced by David Wallace, a Hobie 20 veteran from Georgia.
Today’s beach start was treacherous as strong breeze and big surf caused several capsizes and collisions. Team Fully Involved had to pull back to shore immediately to tape a hole in the bow and fix a mainsail problem. Team Dallas, sailed by John Webster, pushed off the beach and then noticed that crew Steven Foxall hadn’t made the leap onto the boat. He slogged through the surf trying to catch the pitching boat as Webster tried to slow in the surf line without being upended by a large wave. Several boats that appeared to have negotiated the surf successfully were forced to return to the beach to replace broken rudder castings. If the rudders aren’t lowered quickly they can load up while floating on the surface, breaking the casting or snapping the rudder blade. The tricky part is lowering the leeward rudder without capsizing. It’s difficult to get the leeward rudder down without the skipper going all the way to leeward. A large wave at the wrong moment can topple the boat bow over stern with the helmsman perched on the leeward-stern corner.
The leg to Jensen Beach is short by Worrell 1000 standards, but the upwind orientation should keep the fleet from breaking last year’s record run. The 2000 race was characterized by pleasant reaching in moderate seabreezes. It looks like this year will be a lot more challenging. Well positioned weather systems have resulted in a strong gradient that will challenge the fleet on the early legs of the race.