Congratulations to Cam McNeil, Ben McNeil, and Meg Bouman winner of the 2021 C Scow National Championship at Spring Lake Yacht Club in Muskegon, MI. The Melges/Quantum Sails Zenda Team was onsite racing as well and Andy Burdick had a chance to sit down with McNeil after his win.

AB: Your family has been involved with Melges for three generations, going on four. What does this family sport mean to you and how have Melges boats played a role?
CM: Sailing is a big part of my life and a bigger part of my family’s history. Before I was old enough to sail my own boat, I was crewing for Andy Burdick and being told countless stories from my dad, uncles, and grandpa “Doc” of regattas past. The sport and competition it offers are exhilarating, but it’s the lifelong friendships and family memories that make sailing so special to me. When you are able to do a sport you love with the people you love, it really doesn’t get any better than that.

Like many, our family considers the Melges Team family. They have played a huge role in our collective sailing experience and success, providing invaluable support and mentorship over the years. The strength and future of our scow sailing community depend on the next generation and Melges has that mission at the forefront. Having my 15-month-old son, Ollie, at the 2021 C Nationals was special and hopefully the first of many!

AB: Congratulations! You sailed a great regatta with your brother, Ben. How did it feel to win on our home court?
CM: Thanks! It was a real thrill. The C Scow Class is full of incredibly talented sailors and it is a huge honor to join this elite club. Doing it with my brother Ben and Meg Bouman in our backyard with our family and friends made it extra special.

AB: What are your top 3 keys to success?
CM: My pre-regatta focus centers on preparation, execution, and a positive attitude.

Preparation: Put in the pre-regatta work, both physical and mental, to hit the water with as much confidence as possible. C Scows are grueling boats – get in the best shape you can. Go over your boat and gear. Know your race day routine. Have a game plan for how you will handle certain situations such as starts, mark approaches/roundings, and varying wind conditions. When it plays out on the water, you’ll be ready to make quick decisions with less stress.

Execution: Muskegon is a boat-speed lake so our big-picture-plan was pretty simple. Get off the line clean, and relatively conservatively, and find clear air as soon as possible. From there, the strategy was to consolidate gains when possible and not stray too far to either side. In the big breeze on Friday, our focus was on executing the next maneuver as efficiently as possible. Getting ahead of yourself can lead to mistakes. Tactically, the left side of the course was paying dividends and we were able to work off the middle/left side of the line in the final two races to capitalize. Saturday’s breeze was tricky and maintaining boat speed through the chop was key. Our goal was to get vertical up the middle of the course and try to be in the first pack of boats for the fresh breeze and any shifts.

Positive Attitude: Stay rested, relaxed, and positive. Visualize it and believe in yourself. I approach each race like it’s the first race of the regatta. Whether we have a good race or a bad race, it’s behind us and time to move on to the next one. Have fun!

AB: Your Dad is a great sailor and was watching the entire regatta. What did it mean to you to win this with your Dad there?
CM: My dad tends to shy away from on-the-water spectating. His rationale being that it will make us nervous and bad things will happen (while this scenario has played out more than a few times, none were his fault). But for this regatta, Ben and I weren’t having it – good or bad, he was going to be out there. Taking the hint, my dad said, “I’ll be wherever you need me.” We told him he was driving our tender and to relax. So, for two nerve-wracking days, he watched with my mom and a few others as the regatta unfolded. In the end, it was one of those regattas where all the stars align, and to have them both on the water watching was very cool. Their support at this event and over the years means a ton. Sailing by their boat after the final race for a nod and thumbs up was something I’ll always remember.

AB: 2022 C Scow Nationals on Green Lake – will you be there to defend?
CM: We will be there for sure! My wife Lindsey’s family is from Green Lake and although I’ve never sailed it, we love our summer trips and stays at the Heidel House. Can’t wait to go there for a big C Nationals!

Looking to improve your scow sailing? Contact the Melges/Quantum Sails Zenda Team for more information on new sails, parts, and new boats! Email