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Bailey shakes off rustiness to claim title

Rudy Bailey made a triumphant return home this week following his dramatic victory at the Comet International Championship in Shrewsbury, New Jersey.

The Bermuda sailor came from behind on the final day to pip rival Jack Swikart, of the United States, on a tiebreaker to walk away from the Comet Class Yacht Racing Association sanctioned regatta with the President's Permanent Trophy for the sixth time.

“We both ended up with ten points but the tie was broken by whoever had the most number of firsts,” said Bailey, who alternated between female crew Jessica and Jewels Gruskos throughout the three-day regatta. “I had three firsts while he had two.”

Former US college sailor Swikart and crew Billy Daddono led the overall 23-boat fleet by a two-point margin heading into the final two races, a deficit that Bailey and Jewels Gruskos erased by posting two firsts before clinching the regatta on the tiebreaker.

With the title on the line and ground to make up, West End Sail Boat Club stalwart Bailey never doubted his ability to deliver when it mattered most.

“We were behind going into the final day and I told my crew that we're going to win both races, and we did,” Bailey said. “There was no pressure. I was relaxed and had no doubts we were going to win before we put the boat in the water.

“We had good starts and opened up leads in both of the last two races. The boat I have up there [New Jersey] is a very fast boat and handles very well also.”

The regatta, hosted by the Shrewsbury Sailing and Yacht Club, marked Bailey's first time in a sailboat in years after putting his career on hold because of work and personal commitments.

“I was a little rusty, but by the last day the rust was gone,” he said.

“Having not sailed for two years the question in the back of my head was ‘do I still have it'? I figured after sailing the regatta I do still have a few years left, so I am not ready to retire yet.”

Back in the saddle: Bailey won in New Jersey for the sixth time (File photograph by Akil Simmons)

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Published August 27, 2016 at 9:00 am (Updated August 27, 2016 at 12:56 am)

Bailey shakes off rustiness to claim title

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