Dean, the Melbournite, was the first to take a bad lick from the sea. Just two miles after the start, he swapped ends, damaging his steering linkage so badly he was compelled to run the rest of the way at an average speed of 38 mph, using his trim tabs for control. Shortly thereafter Glass, the Sydneyite, quit, having hit a reef and busted an outdrive. Doxford in his ill-suited tunnel hull was the next to retire, forced out when the connecting rod tore loose from one of his widely separated outdrives.
The two Italian hulls, all-purpose wonders though they may be, behaved poorly in the skittery conditions. After leaping erratically from one seven-foot crest to the next, they would suddenly plow into a stray 10-footer and rocket skyward as if moon bound. Twenty-five miles from the start Cosentino withdrew with a badly gashed face. Feeling ill, Niccolai instructed Stuteville to complete the course at an easier pace. When his light and bouncy Kevlar hull proved as unsuited for the course as he suspected it might. Nordskog also backed off, satisfied to finish. After a two-foot crack opened in his little secondhand hull in the first 15 miles, Ippolito carried on, lead-footing it for another 15, until a fuel tank ruptured.
It was not carnage—just one of those days with enough minor disasters for everybody except Betty Cook, who in the last 50 miles was the only one still traveling at a champion's pace. Savoring the sweetest victory of her two-year career, Cook observed, "I have always said Key West is the worst course we run, but I think I could learn to love it."