June 25, 2009


SanFrancisco-Catalina Island, CA


Part owner of Hobie 33 "Still Crazy" and Production Manager of Ullman Sails Newport Beach, Erik Shampain profiles the modifications to "Still Crazy" and the Coastal Cup 2009 run that earned him and his team 1st place overall.

The boat is ‘Still Crazy’. She is a Hobie 33 with a modified deck, cockpit, and interior. Not exactly “turbo”. Eight years ago we sailed the Coastal Cup to Ventura and had a wild ride where the wind speed topped 40 knots for an extended period of time. This is where we learned the value of the 6A! At dawn we could see daylight between the hull and deck joint. The boat came out of the water and went to a yard in Dana Point where “The Transformation” began.

Owners Robert Plant and my father Jon Shampain went to work. The end result was a modern look that is very pleasing to the eye. The two big changes were that the transom was opened and the interior was opened up as well to better accommodate our offshore sailing needs. In addition we did a number of smaller things to modernize the boat. For example, we added fiberglass to the hull deck joint, created a radius and removed the standard toe rail, and added fixed pad eyes and track where needed. We also lowered the stanchions to minimum height (same stanchions in sockets instead of bolted to the deck), fixed the keel down, added custom pulpits and all new deck layout and running rigging systems. And we now use a stern mounted engine and filled in the standard well.

PHOTO CREDIT: Peter Lyons / Lyons Imaging

Surrounding these modifications is a stock Hobie 33. Same keel, same rudder, same mast, same boom, same spinnaker pole, same sail plan (with Assos), same weight. We changed to asymmetric spinnakers for most racing (only use symmetrical for the SF Delta Ditch Run). So in the end, we have an extremely good-looking modern, fun-to-sail, Hobie 33 that sails like a traditional Hobie 33 (with Assos). And somewhere along the line, Robert and Dad convinced me to join in and spend the money on the boat with them as well – What a good idea! Oops, misery loves company.

Robert Plant: Architect, long time sailor with a lost count of offshore miles.
Jon Shampain: Project Manager and delivery captain for some of SoCal’s top race boats, lost count of offshore miles before I was born (I’m 31 now).
Myself - Erik Shampain: Production manager for Ullman Sails Newport Beach, Running Rigging business on the side, and professional sailor.

This boat is one of the boats by which most small boats could be measured and has more new sails then anybody should have. Our Coastal Cup inventory consisted of Carbon AP#1 (like new), Carbon #3 (new), Carbon #4 (new and we used it to get out of the bay!), 1A (new), 2A (like new), 3A, 4A, 6A (won’t leave SF without it!), new “MP” main (thank you Moose at Dimension Polyant, Genoa staysail and Spinnakers staysail. Of course all the new sails are top shelf Ullman Sails 100% built at Ullman Sails Newport. Additionally, we have custom pulpits, a sexy tiller, an opening prefeeder, micro stansion rollers and more from Steve Harrison at Harrison Marine in San Diego. Carbon spinnaker pole and matching reaching strut from Randy Risvold at Forespar, new Tacktick Maxi network from Ron Miller at Ocean Equipment and an endless list of parts (new Harken Carbo headfoil and more) from Luis Holmes at West Marine Newport Beach. The rest is too much to list, but more great innovative ideas from the top Melges 24s, Farr 40s, TP52s, and more have been implemented.

The crew consisted of now partners, Robert Plant, Jon Shampain, myself and long-time family friend and SoCal sailor Danny Shields. The start was in front of St. Francis Yacht Club in San Francisco in enough wind to warrant the use of our new Carbon #4 jib. On the way out of the bay, we exchanged tacks with the bigger boats for a little while before succumbing to being a Hobie 33 with only 3 people on the rail. The #4 was a great choice as we exited the bay only a little behind the bigger boats in our class. Ullman Sails' Erik Shampain

We sailed to the outside edge of our group and set the Code 0 early as we bore off into the long downwind race. I think we were the only boat to have a Code 0 and it showed as we sailed down in front and through the bulk of our fleet. Later as the fleet set spinnakers, we changed to the 2A and never looked back. The wind built and we went faster and faster and pushed harder and harder. Late afternoon we changed to the 4A and settled into dinner. We lived on water and soup with a little chicken on the side. Just before dark with no competitors in sight behind, we set the 6A and settled into the nights building breeze. This was good until around 1:30am shortly after hitting the top speed of 22 (maybe more as the paddle wheel was out of the water) and a 35+/- knot puff, I spun out. I blame the Hobie’s extremely small rudder! The spinnaker sheet shackle came off in the mayhem. After only a couple of minutes, we were collected with the kite on deck.

We decided with the building breeze we would throttle back a little and set the new Carbon #3 jib on the spinnaker pole. But after only an hour and a half, the wind seemed to be back in only the high 20s. So at 3am we went back to the 6A and off we went blazing into the darkness. The lack of any moon made it all harder. Through the morning and afternoon, the breeze lightened a little to let us go back to the larger 4A which was the sail of choice all the way through the late afternoon as we passed between Santa Rosa and Santa Cruz Island around 6ish and the wind accelerated. This turned out to be key as most of our fleet gambled on more breeze outside the islands making up for extra miles sailed.

At dark as we were well past the Islands and the wind lightened to let us change to the 2A. By midnight we were getting headed and were able to go back to the priceless Code 0. This was good as the wind continued to drop and head us. By 3ish AM it went glassy and headed us more. After a brief encounter with the drifter the wind started building quickly from a new forward direction (Catalina Eddy) and we went to the Carbon #1. At this point we’ve seen almost every sail! Amazingly the wind held between 4-9 knots at an angle that let us lay the finish at 6:55 AM.

There are some fun videos at:

There are some great pictures at:

We were the first boat to finish and no doubt had a “weather” bonus starting on Wednesday rather then Thursday. The wind clearly and consistently lightened behind us affecting not only the Thursday starters but the boats in our class as well. Dad, who navigated for us, did a tremendous job with prestart help from Rick Shema “The Weather Guy” at www.weatherguy.com who was spot on to keep us in the maximum wind and minimize the distance traveled. When I look at our track at http://onltr.magnatrax.net/no.php?fid=10341, I am very pleased to see the efficiency in which we pushed hard while sailing a smart race. An added bonus for fun was the Andrews 80 ‘Magnitude,’ navigated by the always cunning Ernie Richau. She owed us approximately 25 hours and started 25 hours behind us. We were always looking over our shoulder for her to appear but she never did. After talking with Ernie post-race, I was amazed to hear how much light air they encountered.

First to finish, First in Class, First Overall. Thank you Wednesday start! Our only damage was in a jibe – we ripped the mainsheet block out of the cockpit floor! Our 3rd Coastal Cup and one of the best offshore races in California (which usually promises big breeze and big seas) was our best finish. We’ll be back for sure.

Still Crazy
Ullman Sails Newport Beach

USNB Note:
Ullman Sails Newport Beach customer Ed Feo's Andrews 45 "LOCOMOTION" won Class "A" and placed second overall behind "Still Crazy". Both boats used all Ullman Sails!!