Stephen Lohmayer and Kenneth Pierce, sailing Tybee Island, won the third stage of the Worrell 1000 yesterday by a mere four seconds after a controversial finish at Cocoa Beach in Florida.
Brian Lambert and Jamie Livingston on Alexander's on the Bay held a slim lead over Tybee Island coming into the finish of the 79-mile stage from Jenson Beach.
Conditions for the leg were fast and pleasant. The eighteen teams were fortunate enough to race north along the Florida coastline, past the famous Cape Canaveral launch pads, in temperatures averaging around 90 degrees F, with an 18-20 knot southeast sea breeze.
But after five hours of intense racing, Lambert was denied the stage win within spitting distance of victory, losing control of the powerful Inter 20 catamaran in the beach surf.
The rules state if there is a gate at the finish, you must go between them but in a sub rule it adds that in some cases there may be only one flag. In that case you must finish with the flag to the north and no more than fifty yards away. "I got sideways to the last wave and had no steerage and was heading right for the guy holding the flag. He jumped out of the way, but to the south of our boat," explained Lambert.
Lambert felt that if the flag holder had jumped the other way, they would have finished first. Instead Lambert and Jamie Livingston had to turn the boat around and pull it through the gate. meanwhile, Tybee Island slipped through to claim first for the stage in a time of exactly five hours and nine minutes.
Then in another twist, race officials later tried to backtrack on the official result and give the victory to the unfortunate Alexander's crew. But Tybee Island stood their ground. Even Michael Worrell, the very man that pioneered the event was unsure. "I will have to read the rule before I make a decision either way."
Either way, Tybee Island retain their overall lead in the 13-day sailing marathon by one minute and 58 seconds from Alexander's.
Leg four, 68.9 miles to Daytona Beach, Florida, is being raced today (Wednesday 8th May).
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