July 18, 2014
The Power Pack: Vic McQuaide
By Cody Rice

"Put the Power Pack in, but don't tell him that it's a hard job. Just tell him what to do and he will do it ... he won't know it's a hard job."

Photos courtesy of: Tim Tucciarone and Ricardo Cabanit.

Vic McQuaide’s goal for the 2014 Games is simple.

“I would be lying if I told you (if it was) anything but jumping up on the first step.”

The 45-year-old SoCal native has a history of going for gold—whether as a Gulf War Marine, world champion in sailing or national sprint champion in track cycling—and he has the same big plans for his first-ever CrossFit Games appearance.

As a kid, McQuaide played soccer, but was also into road cycling. At 14, he paced second in statewide road bicycling competition. His love for the rush of competition eventually led him to join the Marines at 18.

“I joined because I was looking for a higher calling and a chance to test myself,” he said.

And a test he sure received in his service, particularly in his last year as a Marine.

“I was a grunt, 0341 Infantry Mortar Man. Both 81-mm and 60-mm guns,” he explained. “My unit was near the last to fly to the Middle East. We left on New Year’s Eve 1991, landed in Saudi Arabia, dug in and waited until Ground Day, and we were the first unit to secure Kuwait International Airport.”

After leaving the Marines that same year, McQuaide began competitive sailing. That, too, satisfied his physical and mental sides.

“Sailing was a physical chess match—wind, weather, waves and sails, tactics and trim,” McQuaide said. “The only way to win is to be powerful, quick and one step ahead.”

McQuaide had to be the one both physically and mentally in tune, for he was the crew’s “grinder”—the man manually cranking the machinery, or “winches,” used to keep the sails tight and properly position the wind, often times with hundreds of pounds of force.

Nicknamed “Power Pack” because of his strength by his teammates, there was one day the team was struggling with a particularly hard grinding job on the boat. They devised a plan to have McQuaide do the work.

“Put the Power Pack in, but don’t tell him that it’s a hard job. Just tell him what to do and he will do it … he won’t know it’s a hard job,” McQuaide mocked in re-telling the story.

And so the Power Pack did … for hours.

When finally asked if he wanted a break, McQuaide responded, “No, this is my job!”

It was only later the team told him his job was usually done by three people.

Luckily, McQuaide loved the hard jobs.

“I found the most enjoyment through igniting my mind with my physical side,” he said, “traveling to exotic destinations and testing my capacity to think under intense cardio situations.”

And test it he did, as McQuaide made it to the top of the international sailing world in two years and competed as a member of the “Stars and Stripes” team for the USA in the 1995 America’s Cup, the World Cup of sailing.

“Sailing was my jam,” he said. “One month we were even sailing against the King of Spain in Palma De Mallorca. When you arrive they give you a bag of clothes to wear for the week, some per diem funds, a stay in top hotel. What more could you wish for?”

While the USA lost the 1995 America’s Cup in the finals, McQuaide continued on to compete in some of the most competitive races in world, and in 1998, he helped win the Maxi World Championships with team Sayonara.  

However, sailing wasn’t the only sport McQuaide chased championships in, as his next sport of choice was track cycling, which also supported his dedication to his family, as his father, John McQuaide, competed.

After McQuaide won a National Championship in 2009 as a team sprinter, both McQuaides won their own National Championships in 2010 at the Masters Cycling National Championships, father in the 2k Pursuit (2000-m Time Trial) and son in the team sprint (3x1 250-m Relay).

After succeeding at a high level in cycling, McQuaide began looking for yet another new sport to compete in.

Enter CrossFit.

After only starting CrossFit a few months earlier—November 2011—at CrossFit Santee, McQuaide was, not surprisingly, eager to compete.

He entered the 2012 Open (not yet masters age), and finished 353rd in SoCal. With the addition of the new Masters 40-44 Division in 2013, McQuaide was ready, knowing he had a shot. He had his eye on the next level of the competition.

Though he placed 36th on 13.1 for his division worldwide, the following workouts took their toll on McQuaide. For instance, he took 674th place worldwide in 13.3, getting caught in his muscle-ups, eventually only completing two amidst his frustration. Such a blow caused him to finish in 125th place at the close of the Open. 
 
So he brought in the reinforcements just as the Open ended. 
 
McQuaide’s 17-year-old daughter Allie, and his girlfriend Reese, joined him at CrossFit Santee and proved to be a huge help with his training for the 2014 season.
 
“They all believe in me when I need it the most,” he said. “Allie sorts out training partners, food for the week, counts my reps and generally looks over me. Having a family that is 100 percent supportive of my passions is amazing.”
 
And so the McQuaides pushed for a stronger performance this season.
 
Now in the 45-49 Division, Open Workout 14.1 resulted in an even better performance than 13.1. He completed 8 full rounds of snatches and double-unders, landing him in fifth place. 
 
But the fear of a downhill performance like 2013 was in the back of McQuaide’s mind.
 
“I was checking the Leaderboard every chance I had,” he remembered. “Every week I did the workout on Thursday so that I had time to recover and do it again if needed. I re-did 14.2, 14.3 and 14.4.” 
 
His vigilance paid off, as McQuaide finished the Open in 17th place overall, and thus was entered into the inaugural Masters Qualifier.
 
“They announced Amanda and max clean. I thought to myself ‘Wow,’” he recalled. “Those are two bad ones ... hard to find a movement worse for me than muscle-ups!’” 
 
Nevertheless, McQuaide proved this was his year. He managed a PR on the clean with 260 lb. for 54th place. And he completed his first Amanda in 8:18 for 33rd place. 
“The filming coach pushed stop when we said, ‘3-2-1 … go!’” McQuaide recounted. “Five muscle-ups later, he stopped the workout and said the tape was not rolling. Well that was the best muscle-up day ever … 5 in a row, all wasted. I thought that it’s meant to be this way.”
 
But he persisted. 
 
“That was a PR for sure,” he said of his muscle-ups. “That night my muscle-ups were way better than ever.”
 
McQuaide crushed the final two workouts, finishing in a tie for ninth overall and securing a spot to the 2014 Reebok CrossFit Games.
 
Now, it’s game time.