The C&C 30 strikes a good balance between performance and handling, believes Matthew Sheahan. She’s a fast ride, but without the jitters

Today, going like the clappers downwind is easy; anyone can do it. But there are two basic approaches: there is eye-watering, fixed-grin, backside-twitchingly quick, with the boat balanced on a knife edge, and there’s clocking the same numbers without the jitters.

In the latter case the boat knows where to go and encourages you to follow by gradually loading the helm as if starting a friendly arm wrestle. Push her too far and you’ll still end up on your ear, but at least you will have had plenty of warning.

Developing a balance between performance and handling has been a tough nut to crack. How do you produce slender, high-lift foils with minimal drag without creating a lifting surface that operates like the flick of a switch? Such binary hydrodynamic behaviour has taxed modern yacht designers for years, but the lessons learned aboard the big boys’ VO70s, mini maxis and TP52s, among others, have been filtering down into the smaller size ranges.

Then there’s the issue of deck layouts and control line systems. Again, the big guns have led the way with innovative details and devices to help crews change gear from the weather rail as they hike over the guardwires.

But not everything that has filtered down has been appropriate. Just as the complexity and power of a modern F1 racing car makes it impossible to pull away without stalling for anyone other than a seasoned racing driver, so not all the high technology aboard professionally run grand-prix machines works for the rest of us.

Striking the balance is the key. And that’s where the Mark Mills-designed C&C30 stands out in the new breed of 30ft raceboats.

This is a design that takes the best bits of modern high performance and wraps them up with a deck layout that will look and feel familiar to a wide range of crews, yet launch them onto a new level of performance.

Technology where it’s needed

Throughout the boat it is clear that the strategy has been to employ technology where it makes a difference while keeping things simple elsewhere. The best example is the Hall Spars carbon mast supported by 1×19 Dyform wire rigging with ordinary T-terminals on the top and open-bodied bottlescrews at the bottom.

But there are plenty of other examples, from the simple hanks on the headsails to transverse genoa tracks and control lines fitted and run above decks with rope tidy bags. Even when lines do need to go under the deck to prevent crew from standing on them at crucial times, they do so through recessed channels in the deck, which are covered by easily removable lids.

Down below there’s a similarly practical approach. Sparse though her interior is, with little headroom thanks to the flush deck, she still has basic seating and cushions with the provision for hingeing pipecots, a heads and even a small galley should you wish to take her offshore. She has no mast jack, but she has a simple rigging screw-driven adjustable mast foot to allow you to alter the mast rake.

She's easier to keep in the groove than others of her ilk

She’s easier to keep in the groove than others of her ilk

The C&C30 also has very few openings in the deck, a rarity aboard modern raceboats, which can look like pepper pots from the inside. Despite taking several waves over the foredeck on our downhill slide and a few thumps through the chop upwind, she had less than half a bucket of water in the bilges at the end of our test sail, most of which was shipped when a wave came over the bow just before the kite drop and the foredeck hatch was open.

Look a little closer and there are some very neat ideas, among them the non-retractable, but detachable bowsprit. This can be removed when the boat is at rest by untying the bobstay that runs from the bow to the tip of the sprit and back through its centre to emerge below, where it is attached to the main bulkhead. This allows the sprit to be pulled out of its socket and stowed.

Another clever detail is the constrictor lock for the main halyard, which is operated below decks, along with the halyard itself – simple and effective.

On deck the low-friction bullseye fairleads have been set up to allow cross sheeting of the genoa sheets, and the position of the primary winches make this system easy to use from the weather rail.

Overall the deck layout has been well thought out, with everything within easy reach. One particular detail is the ability for the mainsheet trimmer to move behind the helmsman on the downwind leg without having to thread the mainsheet under the tiller – handy when the breeze is up.

Easy to get on with

The C&C30 is a boat that is very easy to get on with so long as you let her talk you through where she wants to go. Unlike the superlight, almost neutral feel of many modern machines, the helm loads up significantly, but smoothly if you stray too far outside the sail trim envelope. As always, whether sailing upwind or down, fighting the helm is a cue to talk to your trimmers, but here the feedback is that bit clearer, which helps you to stay in the groove.

She doesn’t have such aggressive chines aft as other boats of her ilk and appears to carry less rocker here too. As a result, she tends not to squat down by the stern and lift her bow when you send her downwind. To get her to accelerate and stay on the plane you still need to press her to get around 5° of heel, but the transition is much smoother than others of this type.

Upwind feedback through the helm was clear and unequivocal

Upwind feedback through the helm was clear and unequivocal

This can feel a little odd at first if you are more used to the bow-up trim of other downhill flyers. It also means you have to plan the gusts a little more carefully to avoid putting the handbrake on as you bear away.

But make no mistake, she’s quick. In 16-18 knots of true breeze we were sliding along at 14-16 knots with ease. Such relatively docile handling will inspire confidence, particularly with those making the transition from heavier, conventional boats to something a little more saucy.

And therein lies what I believe is the key to the C&C30; she’s a modest, manageable and practical package that is capable of a blistering performance.

It is inevitable that she will be compared with the Farr 280, especially as both boats were launched at around the same time. Broadly speaking, they look similar and have little to separate them on the technical spec sheets. With a basic price tag of US$137,390 ex works USA, the C&C30 is slightly more expensive, but in the same ball park.

But the best thing about this boat is that she’s another in the growing band of sporty 30-footers. All want to be tomorrow’s successful one-design, and maybe some of them will be, but in the meantime her arrival adds another model into this growing fleet of sportsboats. Everyone can go quickly downhill, it’s just how you choose to do it that is different. And now there’s even more choice.


The C&C30 takes the best of high-performance design, but with a clever, conventional-seeming deck layout


Vinylester/E Glass/foam core construction throughout. The structural grid includes carbon fibre. A 12hp Volvo inboard diesel engine is standard


A well laid-out cockpit makes the C&C30 easy to get to grips with. I felt the foot rest bars were a little too low to give good support, however


Unbolting the keel plate allows the 2.30m deep fin and bulb keel to be raised by 600mm to make it easier to trail the boat. She can also be lifted on a central point


The bowsprit can be removed easily when moored by detaching the bobstay that runs through the centre of the pole and into the boat. This also helps to prevent lines getting caught under the pole


No mast jack, but a simple rigging screw adjustment to move the mast heel forward and aft to rake the rig


Car control lines run under the deck to make crew movement easier and safer, but do so in covered recesses rather than running through the accommodation.


LOA 9.15m/30ft 0in

Beam 3.00m/9ft 10in

Draught 2.30m/7ft 6in

Displacement 1,812kg/3,995lb

Sail area:

Upwind 59.51m2/640ft2

Downwind 152m2/1643ft2

IRC Rating 1.140

Price US$137,390 ex works, ex tax

Designed by Mark Mills

Built by C&C Yachts, Bristol,RI, USA

UK/Europe agent Checkmate Sailing


This is an extract from a feature in June Yachting World