Bailey eyeing Comet Race appearance
Multiple winner Rudy Bailey could be a late addition to the Long Distance Comet Race fleet.
The West End Sail Boat Club stalwart confirmed yesterday that he is contemplating competing in Monday’s race, which is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year and is being hosted by his club.
“I haven’t sailed very much in local races, but if I participate of course I am expecting to win or at least do better than third place which I did last year — and that was with no practise,” Bailey said.
The 11-times race winner has yet to secure a boat as his was damaged in a storm and has yet to be repaired.
“I’m possibly going to have a boat, I’m just waiting on confirmation,” he added.
“My boat is not repaired and the boat I competed in last year is unavailable because the owner’s son is competing this year.”
Depending on conditions Bailey could compete either with grandson Corey Bean or sibling George, whom he competed with last year.
Last year, Malcolm Smith held off a charging Heath Foggo to clinch a maiden Long Distance Comet Race title in one of the most dramatic finishes in recent memory.
The multiple world sun fish champion and crew Damien Payne crossed the finish line in the Great Sound a mere six seconds ahead of Foggo and crew Stevie Dickinson, with the Bailey siblings finishing a further ten seconds back in third.
“The first three boats were like within 15 to 20 seconds of each other and I was third,” Bailey said.
Smith is back to defend his title this year while Dickinson, who has won the race a record 20 times, is competing at the helm of his own boat this time around.
The Long Distance Comet Race is traditionally regarded as the most prestigious race in the class.
“This is the America’s Cup of our class,” Bailey said.
“This is the biggest race for us every year. You win this and you are a rock star, and that is why this race is so big and so important.”
This year’s race will start from West End Sailboat Club at 11am and travel down the North Shore, ending in St George’s Harbour at East End Mini Yacht.
“That is my preferred racecourse because you can’t be boxed in like they do coming out of St George’s Harbour,” Bailey said.
“I feel more comfortable coming out of Somerset. I have more breathing room and nobody can mess with me, and that’s why I prefer that racecourse.”