The adrenaline rush of two high-speed whitewater runs and the speedo pegged at 19 knots is one I won’t soon forget. – Dave Reed, Editor of Sailing World magazine, crew on the C&C 30 OD Nyabinghi.

The debut of the C&C 30 One Design class at Quantum Key West Race Week could not have been more exciting. Frequent lead changes, five different race winners over the 10-race series, a squall in the final race, and the drama of a come-from-behind victory are the compelling story lines from the week.

The winners! Walt Thirion, Nick Ewenson, Geoff Ewenson, Lara Dallman-Weiss, Dave Flynn, Collin Kirby, and Hobie Ponting. Max Ranchi photo

The winners! Walt Thirion, Nick Ewenson, Geoff Ewenson, Lara Dallman-Weiss, Dave Flynn, Collin Kirby, and Hobie Ponting. Max Ranchi photo

On the first day of racing, Walt Thirion and his team on Themis and Dan Cheresh and Extreme2 traded wins in Races 1 and 2, foreshadowing a week-long battle. While other teams made strong charges on different days — Bob Moran and BobSled, and Nigel Biggs and Checkmate, each won two races — in the end consistency paid off for Themis and Extreme2 in the no-throw-out series, and their two-boat battle continued until the final race.

Extreme2 held the lead through Race 6, but struggled with finishes of 1-8-7 in Races 7, 8 and 9, while Themis scored a scorching 2-1-2.  “We won the first race today and thought we had good wheels,” said Cheresh at the end of that day, “But we got caught on the wrong side of some shifts in the other two races. This is a tough class, and if you get behind it’s hard to fight back.”

With only one race to go and four points to make up on the final day of racing, Extreme2 ran out of runway. Their second-place finish to Themis’ fourth in Race 10 gave the win to Themis by two points.

“The one-design racing in our class was excellent. It was a lot tighter than previous events and we had a lot of different winners. All the boats are getting better, which is good to see,” said Thirion, who lives in Colorado and bases his boat out of Annapolis. “We did a good job of getting off the line in most races and made smart decisions on which side of the course to take. Racing at this level is all about minimizing mistakes and our team executed well all week.”

The battle for third place was also a cliffhanger. On the final day of racing, when a squall came through the course and teams experienced the wildest conditions of the week, Ed Feo and team Loco finished two places ahead of Bobsled to break a tie for third. “We used the medium jib on the last day, while a lot of teams used the small jib,” says Feo. “We felt like we had unbelievable speed upwind. When we were going it the right direction, we had great speed with more power in the chop.”

Ed Feo and team on Loco. Onne van der Wal photo

Ed Feo and team on Loco. Onne van der Wal photo

“The racing in this class has been fantastic,” said Cheresh, who is also president of the C&C 30 One Design Class. “We traded the lead in races with lots of teams all week, and everyone was getting better and better as the week wore on. The spirit in this class is also great, where everyone is focused on not only winning, but having fun together, too.”

Feo agrees, “We bought the boat for point to point racing in Southern California, but we had such a good time sailing in the class, that we’ll stay on the East Coast to race as we continue grow our one-design fleet in California.”

Next up for the class is the Miami Ocean Challenge, hosted by the Coconut Grove Sailing Club, in February. From there it’s on to Sperry Charleston Race Week, followed by the Sailing World/Helly Hansen Annapolis NOOD regatta.

Click here for more Key West photos by Onne van der Wal.