C&C 30 was among six one-design classes participating in Quantum Key West Race Week 2017, organized by Storm Trysail Club. Dan Cheresh and his Extreme2 team came out on top following five days of intense competition that saw all five entries have their moments.
"It was a great week of racing. Conditions were absolutely ideal and the race committee work was fantastic," Cheresh said. "We got a little bit of everything in terms of wind range so it was a good test for all the teams."
The Conch Republic delivered a wide range of conditions, ranging from heavy air and high seas early in the week to moderate winds on Wednesday and lighter conditions toward the end.
"It was a typical Key West Race Week and I think all the C&C 30 sailors enjoyed themselves," said Brady Stagg, who worked the mast aboard Flying Jenny V while also providing on-site oversight along with Tink Chambers on behalf of class manager Stagg Yachts. "We had great competition and I would say that every boat in the fleet performed well at various points."
Cheresh and his veteran crew on Extreme2 showed its experience in the boat by winning nine of 12 races. The Michigan-based boat also posted a pair of thirds in clinching the overall victory on Thursday, leading Cheresh to stay ashore on Friday.
"While the score line may look like we dominated, that was far from the case," said Cheresh, a Saugatuck (MI) resident and the class president. "When the boats were all lined up, the speed differences were miniscule. We were crossing tacks with other boats all the time and the mark roundings were routinely very close."
Veteran professional Mark Mendelblatt called tactics for Cheresh, who conceded his crew has come a long way since debuting in the C&C 30 class at the 2015 New York Yacht Club Annual Regatta. Boat captain Dave Shriner was the other pro aboard Extreme2.
"First step in the process was figuring out how to make the boats go fast. Once we had a handle on that aspect, we could focus on fine-tuning," Cheresh said. "We have worked very hard on crew chemistry and the mechanics of maneuvers. We have orchestrated things down to how every member of the crew moves during a tack or gybe."
Annapolis resident Sandy Askew led Flying Jenny V to a runner-up result on the strength of five second-place finishes. Tactician Arnis Baltins and main trimmer Grant "Fuzz" Spanhake brought big-time experience to the boat, which won the 12th race that Extreme2 sat out and finished with 34 points.
"It's almost mind-boggling how well Dan Cheresh and his crew sail the boat. They are setting the bar really high," Askew said. We are going to keep learning, keep improving and keep fighting until we find a way to beat them."
Askew took delivery of her C&C 30 in April, 2016 and competed in Race Week at Newport and the Annapolis Fall Regatta. She grew up around the family-owned D.B. Snider Marina in Detroit and has been sailing in some capacity all her life.
Askew has owned previous editions of Flying Jenny raceboats with her husband David. Gary Snider steers this Flying Jenny V for his sister, who thought the team showed vast improvement in Key West. That was evident on Wednesday when the Annapolis entry notched three seconds.
"We have come a long way with our boat-handling, which is crucial in this class. You can lose a lot of boat lengths in a hurry by making even the slightest mistake," Askew said. "For the most part, we had good sets and good gybes."
Flying Jenny V and Julian Mann's Don't Panic team from San Francisco engaged in three practice days off Fort Lauderdale in December. Askew felt those sessions were valuable for both boats, although she admitted there is nothing that replicates actual live racing.
"It's all about time in the boat. There is a learning curve that needs to be climbed," Askew said. "Our starts and overall boat-handling got better as the week went along. We learned we need to play the sails more. You constantly need to be trimming and easing the main and jib while using the runners."
RoXanne, owned by Kip Meadows of Raleigh, North Carolina, took third in the overall standings. Steve Hunt called tactics while Quantum professional Scott Nixon trimmed the main for Meadows, who won Race 5 and counted seven second or third place finishes in totaling 35 points.
Mann competed in C&C 30 class at Quantum Key West 2016 aboard a chartered boat named Andiamo. "We had an absolute blast and I decided this was the platform I wanted to bring back to San Francisco Bay," he said.
Mann took delivery of his own boat in May, 2016 and made his one-design debut at the San Francisco Big Boat Series. There have been numerous tuning sessions since as the Don't Panic crew has worked hard to find the proper pace.
"We were very encouraged by what happened in Key West because we were mixing it up with other boats. We were in the hunt," Mann said. "During the first few days when the breeze was on we were closing gates with the rest of the fleet. It was more of a challenge when things got lighter. We learned there is plenty of work to do in that mode."
Don't Panic and Flying Jenny V are both headed to the Caribbean to compete in the St. Thomas International Regatta and the BVI Spring Regatta, where they will be joined by Walt Thirion's Themis and Nemesis.
"Our goal going forward is to figure out how to change gears quickly and correctly. We need to gain a better understanding of our boat settings," Mann said.
Anema & Core displayed impressive upwind speed during Key West Race Week, and Annapolis skipper Ennio Staffini came away pleased with the performance of his new set of sails. Staffini, whose team showed potential by posting a pair of thirds, said it's simply a matter of tightening up the little things.
"We figured out a few things about the boat during this regatta. We need to get better going downwind and our maneuvers are not as good as they need to be," he said.
Staffini is hoping to take a few more steps forward while racing in the familiar waters of the Chesapeake Bay during the Annapolis stop of the National Offshore One-Design series.
Annapolis NOOD (May 5-7) is next stop on the 2017 circuit, which also includes the New York Yacht Club Annual Regatta (June 9-11), Block Island Race Week as the North American Championship, Verve Cup in Chicago (August 10-13), Rolex Big Boat Series (September 14-17) and the Campbell Cup (Oct. 21-22) off Long Beach.