Sailor Spotlight - AJ Bailey

September 14, 2018 7:47:56 AM EDT

Sailor Spotlight

First of all, if you are ever at a Trivia Night and you look across the room and see AJ Bailey on another team, save yourself the embarrassment and get up and go home.  Don't even compete; the kid is so good at trivia.

AJ Bailey is such a versatile sailor.  He can skipper a tech, crew on an A-Cat, tune up your E-Scow and sail you to 2nd place at the Nationals, or deliver a boat from Newport to Bermuda.  His openness to trying new boats and his passion for learning in our sport makes him really impressive.  AJ is a good friend, a hard worker, and one of those few people out there who possesses both "street smarts" and "book smarts."  He comes from a family that has made sailing on Barnegat Bay such a large part of their lives.  There's no doubt that everyone around the bay is lucky to have AJ representing us.

Name: AJ Bailey
Age: 26
School: Toms River High School South, United States Merchant Marine Academy
Yacht Club: Toms River YC, Island Heights YC

1) AJ, let's get right into it. Last week you and Brendan Hogan sailed with Kyle Rogachenko at the E-Scow Nationals, and you finished 2nd. You guys crushed it. Give me a rundown on the regatta. Where was the event, what were the conditions like, etc.  This year’s E Nationals were held at Oshkosh YC in Oshkosh,WI, and we raced on Lake Winnebago. We had three beautiful days of sailing, with moderate to heavy breeze for all three days. Our team, who has been sailing together for two seasons now, had worked together all season to get ourselves in top form for the Nationals. We relied heavily on good starts, fleet management, and (mostly) low-risk plays to try to sail as consistently as possible. Our maneuvers were very clean and we had little trouble at mark rounds or crossing situations. Unfortunately, Vincent Porter sailed just a few points better than us, and we could not overcome the deficit on the one-race final day.


2) You're no stranger to the E-Scow fleet. What's the competition like at these big events? How does sailing at the National level against the top Midwest boats compare to racing at home on Barnegat Bay?  You’re correct, I have been racing E’s since I was about 14, and I have to credit my father for letting me crew for him back in those days as well as some of the other top sailors I’ve crewed for like Will Demand and Jeff Bonanni. The overall level of competition is certainly higher at the Nationals, but not overwhelmingly so; we have a very competitive fleet on the Bay. The Nationals, however, is slightly more intense because of the collection of talent and the fact that almost anyone can win a race. It is always fun to challenge ourselves against a more diverse fleet of competitors. I have made several friends along the way and I have always enjoyed the competition and camaraderie of this class at every event I’ve attended.

3) What's your background in sailing? Tell me about your junior sailing, high school, and college experiences.  I began junior sailing, like many other BBYRA sailors, at age 8. I sailed in the Island Heights YC junior program for the next several years. I also sailed my first full BBYRA series at age 8 on a 15’ Barnegat Bay Sneak Box with Butch Haddon. I did not enjoy sailing at first, but through the slow persuasion from my parents, Butch and my coaches, I learned to love the sport and the Corinthian spirit. I continued to sail in junior program, swapping between Island Height and Toms River, in a Laser. I also continued to sail on the Bay in Lasers, Ensigns (with Clark Brick), and E Scows (with a tow every weekend from Cliff and Mary Jo Campbell). I sailed for four years at Toms River South as well, with varying results but falling just short of qualifying for Nationals several times. I continued to sail in college at the United States Merchant Marine Academy. I began sailing on the Intercollegiate team, sailing 420s, FJs, Lasers, and on the Match Race team. However, during my sophomore year, an opportunity presented itself to sail in the 2012 Newport-Bermuda Race on a TP52. I had always wanted to sail more offshore races because of the time I had cruised and raced inshore on my father’s Morgan 41, and felt that this was an opportunity I could not pass up. I finished my college career on the Offshore team, sailing several distance races on boats such as the TP52, ClubSwan 42, and Melges 32.

4) Besides sailing E-Scows, what other boats are you able to sail?  I enjoy sailing almost anything that I can. I have sailed two BBYRA seasons on the A Cat Torch and still try to sail the Wednesday night series and any other races I can. I have also sailed a B Cat, Lightning, Flying Scot, Sonar, 505, Swedish Match 40, Navy 44 and MC Scow. I was very fortunate to sail and travel as part of the Silent Maid team as well. I enjoy sailing in the Turkey Bowl, Santa Bowl, and other events in the Tech Dinghies. My favorite sailing besides E Scows, however, is offshore racing. I have been very lucky to have been invited to race on Leonard Sitar’s J/44 Vamp, which has afforded me the opportunity to do such events as The Vineyard Race, The Block Island Race, Block Island Race Week, and The Newport Bermuda Race. I am looking forward to racing on Vamp again next weekend at American YC for their fall series and also their Spring Series, which are alway enjoyable year after year.

5) I heard you just started a new job this past week. Congratulations! What will you be doing and will you still have the flexibility to sail as much as you have been?  Thank you! I am working for a renewable energy and technology company that is headquartered in Monroe, NJ. I will be working in the Operations department for the company, focusing on new installations. I will probably not have quite the same flexibility that my last job afforded me. However, I can tell you that, as long as my travel schedule allows, my vacation days for the next year are definitely already planned.

Posted in News By

Colie Sails