Sailor Spotlight: Will Brown
Will Brown is a fantastic sailor, coach, and family man. Will grew up sailing on Long Beach Island and moved from yacht club to yacht club always in search of the best opportunity to improve. He had a successful junior sailing career, began sailing Lightnings on the side, and became an All-American skipper at Brown. Now, Will is focused on coaching and giving back to the sport that he loves so much. You'll often find Will (and his wife, Leigh) working with our young Opti sailors or helping kids transition into a 420. Will is articulate and thoughtful, and he relates well to the kids; everyone loves having him as their coach! Will has two young kids, William and Ellie who he hopes will be sailors when they are older. With genes like theirs, I think it's safe to say they will have a good shot!
Name: William G. Brown IV
School: Brown University
Yacht Club: NYYC
1) Will, you grew up sailing in New Jersey and had a very successful junior sailing career. Tell me about the types of boats you sailed and what your junior sailing years were like. I started sailing out of Barnegat Light Yacht Club. The late Fran Temme was the director at the time and noticed me hiding out from swim lessons amongst all the sailors. He threw me in an Opti, convinced my parents (non-sailors) to buy a boat, and the rest was history. I moved on from BLYC to Surf City Yacht Club and finished Optis at Toms River. After Optis I went on to Club 420s and sailed on the Tullo's team out of their lot in Mantoloking. It's safe to say my junior sailing years encompassed practically all of Barnegat Bay.
2) I know you're a big lightning sailor. How did you get into the boat and do you still race them today? BLYC and SCYC have sizeable Lightning fleets and when home from Opti/420 sailing I would crew in the Saturday races. John Faus, a member from BLYC, was kind enough to let me start skippering his boat, first just weekend and local stuff and eventually in national and international regattas. Hyper-competitive yet fun class racing in dinghies around the globe checked all the boxes for me so it wasn’t hard to find a reason to stay in the class. My kids have stifled my racing considerably, but one day I’ll find my way back to the Lightning.
3) This past weekend you were coaching the Opti New England Championship in Newport, RI. How did the regatta go? Tell me about the event. Why is it important for local sailors to travel to these regional and national regattas in the off-season? Newport, RI, is a tremendous venue and Sail Newport always does a great job hosting New England’s. The breeze was not very cooperative, but we ended up with 5 quality races over the 3 days. Narragansett Bay kept the sailors on their toes with lots of current and a shifty up and down breeze. If you want to continue to move your way up the fleet then traveling to these regattas, and training in between, is a must. The mental endurance it takes to compete for 3-4 days must be built up over time and regattas like New England’s are a necessary building block if you have high hopes for Spring Team Qualifiers and Team Trials.
4) You also coach 420s and other types of boats. I know you enjoy coaching all different fleets, but what's your favorite boat to coach and why? College sailing would still be at the top for me. I love the short course racing, it’s extremely tactical with a ton of decision making occurring in a very limited amount of time.
5) You have two children named William and Ellie. There are actually a lot of young children born to really talented sailors in our area; the future looks great for sailing on the bay. Has William started to sail yet? Does he like the water? What will your approach towards sailing be with your kids? William was out in an Opti - with his mother - a few times this summer and had a ton of fun on a few Wednesday night races on the Kraus’ J105. He’s still only 2 but he appears to be at home in and on the water. If anyone has an old Opti for sale we are in the market!
If we can instill in the kids the same love for sailing that Leigh and I share then I’ll be happy. If they do end up loving it then I might be spending another 15 years on the Opti circuit and that would be ok with me. Someone else is going to have to coach them though, my hair is turning gray fast enough.