Vincente d'Avila Melo  "Vince" Brun

April 16, 1947 -

Albany, New York

Anytime you see Vince Brun out sailing, he seems to have a smile on his face. He simply enjoys being on the water. However, let there be no doubt he is very competitive. It all started when he crewed for his older brother, Gaston. Brun studied engineering in school, which was an asset in learning the technical aspects of racing sailboats. Brun told Sailing World magazine, during an in-depth interview in 2004, “I was never the most talented. I just had one thing on my mind. I always wanted to be a little bit better. My strength has always been persistence.”

Brun’s racing career is unique because he has been equally successful as a crew and a skipper. In fact, after winning the 1978 Soling Worlds as crew for Gaston, he switched places and steered to victory for their second World Championship in 1981, and then winning a third time when he reverted back to being a crew for Robbie Haines in 1983. The same pattern happened when Brun won, as crew, the J/24 Worlds in 1996, and then as the skipper in 1997. His record on the water is extraordinary. The list includes: 1986 Star World Champion, 2000 Etchells World Champion, 1981 and 1983 Soling World Champion, 1998 Melges 24 World Champion, crewing for Dennis Conner in his 1992 and 2003 America’s Cup campaigns, and in 2015 serving as tactician for 89-year-old Malin Burnham to win the International Masters Regatta at his home San Diego Yacht Club.

Professionally, Vince was president for 30 years of North Sails One Design (1985-2014). In the Sailing World interview which was published when the magazine named him to its Hall of Fame, he compared the various boats he has raced, “The Laser that I raced for many years taught me how to use my body to work the boat. Because the boat is singlehanded you don’t have to organize a full crew to go practice. The J/24 teaches you teamwork, the Melges 24 is all about sailing the fastest angles with its asymmetrical spinnaker, and the Star boat probably has the most amount of sail area for a boat of that size so you must trim the rig to give you control.”

Brun spoke about racing with his daughter, “When she goes to regattas she’s friends with everybody, even when she has a bad day, she is always upbeat. I wasn’t like that and I admire her for it. I don’t know where she got it from, but she’s way ahead of me.” My guess is the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

— Gary Jobson

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