FRIDAY, JULY 8: Rudy Bailey will defend his Comet International Championship crown in Maryland next month.

The veteran sailor won the international regatta for the third time last year sailing with nephew crew Antonio Bailey.

The Mount Saint Agnes student was a replacement for the injured Emily Rogers who is back this year.

As a native of Maryland, Rogers’ knowledge of the local conditions will undoubtedly be an asset over the course of the three-day regatta.

Bailey said: “It’s very helpful when you have someone with local knowledge onboard.”

Traditionally the winds in Maryland tend to be light around the time of the regatta, conditions that could play to Bailey’s advantage.

“The conditions could work in my favour. I am dialed in and if everything works the way it is supposed to, we should do fine.”

Bailey, though, is wary that the light air conditions could also favour the local sailors.

“They are so used to drifting around in those conditions.

“They do it with such grace and elegance that it requires a special effort to get it done against them.”

The past three-years haven’t been easy for Bailey, who continues to come to terms with the deaths of his wife (Tori) and mother (Olive).

In fact, when his mother passed away five-months ago he actually decided against defending his Comet International Championship crown before eventually having a change of heart.

“I wasn’t going to do it. But I decided to defend my title because I have worked hard and the folks that have passed away would’ve appreciated me going out there and doing it again.”

Even though Bailey has lost some of the hunger to race as a result of dealing with a heavy emotional burden, he is determined as ever to defend his crown in Maryland this year.

“I didn’t intend to sail all that much this year because at the moment I am dealing with life the way it is.

No doubts

“But once I get on that plane for the championships then the focus will completely kick in.

“I don’t have any doubts in my mind that I will be focused and ready for the race.

“I can’t say I am going to win the regatta or lose it. But anybody that beats me will have a battle on their hands because I am no pushover.”

Bailey has two Comets based in Maryland, one of which often grabs much attention for its unique characteristics.

“People say the one that I race (Equalizer) is rocket propelled because I have two exhaust tubes running out of the transom of my boat. It was a custom feature the boat builders added to the boat.”

The 2011 Comet International Championships will be held August 24-26.