The $1 million cat race

Mike Worrell announces giant purse for 2004 cat marathon

Wednesday February 26th 2003, Author: Mike Worrell, Location: United States
Worrell 1000 Race Director and Founder, Mike Worrell announced today that the 22nd running of the Worrell 1000 in May 2004 will feature a One Million Dollars Cash Purse. “I have always wanted a major cash prize for the Worrell 1000,” says Worrell, “It was a natural progression building on the tremendous success of the turn-key format that was introduced this year.” The 2004 race will start on Sunday, May 9 and finish on Saturday, May 22.

The format is similar to one that major fishing tournaments have used for years. Part of the entry fee is set aside to fund the cash purse. The virtually all inclusive cost of entry for 2004 is an escalating Entry Fee that starts at $8,000 and a $20,000 Escrow Fee. The Entry Fee is due upon entry and the Escrow Fee is due one year from now on March 1, 2004. Entries 1-10=$8,000, 11-20=$9,000, 21-30=$10,000/31-40=$11,000/41-50=$12,000.

The proper Entry Fee in US funds is due upon entry and provides a complete turn key race package for a team minus travel expenses to and from the race. This package will include a Boat Charter, with spare parts and extra sails, for 21 days (available one week prior to the start), three hotel Rooms for 21 nights, a vehicle for the shore crew, all required safety gear (EPIRB, VHF Radios, Flares, Strobes, Charts), and a full insurance package (including liability, boat damage, hospitalisation, rental vehicle).

The Escrow Fee of $20,000 will be due one year from now on February 9, 2004 and will be paid into an escrow fund at the Bank of America for disbursement to the 1st through 10th place finishers.

Based on 50 entries the total payout will be $1,000,000, in the following manner:
1st - $400,000
2nd - $200,000
3rd - $100,000
4th - $60,000
5th - $50,000
6th - $45,000
7th - $40,000
8th - $35,000
9th - $35,000
10th - $35,000

Entry will be limited to the first 50 qualified entries, (except for 2003 entries, see below).With 50 entries, a team will have a 20% or 1 in 5 opportunity of recouping their entire expense of competing in the race and 1 in 50 opportunity to win the grand prize of $ 400,000. There may be other prizes including individual leg prizes. If there are less than 50 entries, the payout will be pro-rated based on the above schedule.

“We have had a tremendous response to the new turnkey entry format and based on input and requests from the 2003 entries, the 2004 entry package has been upgraded and made more inclusive.” says Worrell. “The intent is to provide an event where one needs only to arrive with personal gear to compete. For obvious reasons, personal gear and travel to and from the race are not included in the package. However, there are some items provided that may be overlooked by a first year team - different types of insurance including hospitalization, and required safety gear. The 2004 boat selection will be announced at the awards presentation on Sunday, May 18, 2003.”

The reason for announcing this now prior to the 2003 race is that a major format change requires more lead time to adapt. And this is the biggest change in the race’s history. The 2003 Worrell 1000 teams that finish the race will be grandfathered, even if the 50 team limit is reached, they will be allowed until July 31, 2003 to enter the 2004 event if they desire. This will allow the 2003 entries to focus entirely on this year’s race and not be distracted by the new 2004 format.

It should be noted that even with the higher entry and escrow fees a team can mount a complete Worrell 1000 campaign from start to finish for less than it would have cost prior to the turn key format. “Basically, what we’ve done is taken the savings achieved with the turn key package and applied it to the escrow fee.” comments Worrell. “In previous years a team could spend $30,000 for bragging rights, now for the same amount they get a shot at $ 400,000 cash.”

The new format introduces several new strategic approaches to competing in the Worrell 1000. For the first time a sponsor may be able to get a cash return on his investment in addition to media coverage. A team of four, two sailors and two shore crew, could form a team for $8,000 each and possibly take home $100,000 each for three weeks work. Or a well financed team owner may seek out and hire top sailors for a shot at the $400,000 grand prize. The concept of a large cash prize is fairly new to the sport of sailing and I’m sure that there are many more creative approaches that will be introduced to the race than the few listed above.

It all began as a bet over a couple of beers in the Worrell Bros. restaurant in Virginia Beach, VA. It was October, 1974 and the America’s Cup was still firmly bolted to its stand at the New York Yacht Club. The first Whitbread Round The World Race had just begun and the first catamaran to compete in the Olympics was still two years away. That one could not sail a 16-foot beach cat 1,000 miles from the front door of Worrell Bros. to southern Florida seemed like a safe bet. It had never been done before. Twenty days later the bet was won - and the idea for the first Worrell 1000 in 1976 was born.

The 2003 Worrell 1000 starts on Sunday, May 4 in South Beach, Florida and finishes in Virginia Beach, Virginia on Saturday, May 17, 2003.

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