Long time Anarchist and ultimate bro Keith Magnussen gives the skinny from the C&C 30 Loco from their KWRW adventures. K Mag does an awesome job sharing the vibe of their sailing. This is how you do it…
Ernest Hemingway once said, “Never go on trips with anyone you do not love”. So when Ed Feo asked me to put a team together for his new C&C30 “Loco” I had to think for all of thirty seconds who I wanted to bring along on this little adventure. We had a few months to prepare and I knew this was going to be challenging since we are basically the only C&C30 around and one boat testing never reveals any breakthrough tricks that will benefit us in the regatta so it was even more important that the team we choose be willing to go through a steep learning curve and not be frustrated if things do not go our way in Key West.
First off I hit up long time friend and amazing sailor Erik Shampain. He has been killing it on the Melges 20 circuit lately but more important to me I knew that he is meticulous in planning, preparation, and pimping out a boat. Plus I knew he would not say no to being our tactician and I am not a fan of rejection. Next up was bow and there was only one person for this, Cody Schlub. If you know Cody then you know. He did Transpac with me on Timeshaver and not only is he a fantastic bowman/sailor, he also does not talk a lot and this would be vital given the rest of the guys I planned on asking who maybe talk a little more than normal… Enter the Long Beach match racing boys Dustin Durant and Benjamin “Classy Boy” Wheatley. Our trimming team and entertainment when not racing. These dudes work hard, sail hard, keep their heads down, and are assets to any boat. Off the boat we laugh and joke to the point that it hurts. Always a super good time. Dave Millet, long time friend of Ed Feo and myself rounded out the crew and added some quiet stability to the young crew. In addition to the rain team we also dragged along Brent Ruhne to cruise around in a RIB and be our coach. This proved vital during our practice days as he was able to really help us dial in the rig tune and get up to speed with the other guys.
Erik and I were looking through the crew lists before the event and were in awe of some of the names. It seemed like every boat had used their two Cat 3 allowances wisely and that was a bit intimidating in some ways. That, and the fact that we were stepping into unknown territory in a One Design fleet with no idea how fast our boat is was enough to make anyone a little nervous.
I had worked closely with Bruce Hollis, Wally Cross and Bruce Cooper on the sails and we hoisted our version two Ullman’s literally in Key West three days before the start of the event. Not ideal but hey we like to take chances right? Well our first impression was nice looking sails… let’s figure out this rig and make them fast. It was a fun process and made even more fun when a rival sailmaker came behind us and took about a thousand pictures. Good thing that was before we got the rig set up, I am sure they were looking at them that night thinking that there was no way we would be fast.
Brent Ruhne helped us from off the boat and between Erik and myself on the boat we eventually got it right. Having a coach on the water is so valuable and the three days we spent practicing before the event really paid off. We started the regatta a bit slow but were still figuring ourselves out. We needed up with a second on the third race of day one and missed out on first by a boat length. Encouraging to say the least! Our mistake in that race me when the wind increased on the final leg and we did not shift gears. These boats are demanding and if you are not constantly working then you will suffer. We missed out on an adjustment and it cost us. Only make your mistakes once people.. if you make them twice then it is a choice.
I won’t go through all the races.. that gets boring. Let me say this though, it was some of the most fun racing I have done in a long time. The boats seemed similar in speed and it was down to the crew in most cases. We found ourselves with a few different gears upwind depending on the situation. If we needed low and fast we had it, high mode no problem! Crew work was amazing. The boys stayed quiet, gave valuable information and we all worked as a team. No yelling, no egos no bullshit. The way sailing should be. After the racing.. It was all laughs and fun and lots of bullshit… The way friends should be. I could tell you how good each person was on the boat but I would just try and sail with them if I were you.
As the regatta progressed we progressed. We started to sail really consistently and every race we felt faster and better. Upwind is all about balance with the main and making sure your jib is set up for the conditions. Downwind was all about understanding the mode. Bow up and try to plane or VMG. We got a grip on both by the end and were getting better at shifting those gears on the downwind legs.
The mark rounding were tight which made the racing even more fun. We had couple incidents but everyone was cool about it (on all boats) so people did their circles and the racing was fair… something I really enjoy. Erik did a good job putting us into situations where we came out on top. Only a few times did we end up on the wrong side but we always remained positive and seemed to recover well.
Going into the final day we were tied for third but losing the tie breaker. We had to beat the Bobsled. Friday was a fun day on the water. Huge swell at like 2 second intervals, love shallow water and left over storm! Wind was around 17-25kts and when the squall came through it left some wreckage. We had a great start and then realized we were over early. Not too brilliant but we cleared ourselves and bailed out to the right side of the course. Boasted again was king and a nice right shift saw us pass Bobsled who went left middle. The downwind was epic fun. Everyone in the back of the bus and Dustin trimming with orders like, “Up a quarter.” Better to be subtle in these conditions.
The second weather mark (I won’t talk about over standing the mark on our first run to spare Erik some blushes) had the sledders right behind us. This is where the crew work was king! As we hoisted our spinnaker and took off I glanced back to see them shrimp their spinnaker and what looked like run it over. Well thats some breathing room but we now have to finish this thing. One gybe and in right? Well it ended up two and we ended up crashing hard at the finish… don’t try to gybe when not going full speed! We knew that but whatever! We finished the race and looked back to see two boats going wing on wing with their jibs. Guess we didn’t do too badly on the final leg of the regatta.
Third place with the kind of competition in the fleet exceeded our expectations. We were pumped. We came all the way from the LBC and represented the West Coast well was more than we could ask for. At one point I thought we had Ed connived to change the location to Compton, I wanted The CPT, so you know he was having fun.
I can not thank Ed Feo enough for having the confidence to let me choose the team, build the sails and race on the boat. We do not have too many teams from here that go big and Ed went big so thank you. The crew was amazing and I am only in this sport to have fun, compete hard and enjoy myself with good people… and the Team Loco are all good people.