© Alec Janis

A passionate sailor, a gifted sailing coach and a talented artist, Haley Brown relishes sharing her knowledge with others, whether it’s achieving success on the racecourse or creating a painting.

“I grew up on the shoreline in Branford, Connecticut, and skippered my first Opti at six,” says Haley, who lives in New Haven. “My parents aren’t sailors, but they enrolled me in Opti lessons at the club we belonged to. I had a hand-me-down Opti and Phantom when I was growing up, and raced 420s and FJs throughout high school and college, but I’ve never actually had my own boat that I’ve raced. I’ve been lucky in that my friends always let me sail their boats. I used to race on a J/30 and a C&C 99 in Burlington, Vermont, and I race on a J/105 out of Branford.”

Haley learned from an excellent mentor. “Dan Bullard, without a doubt, helped (and continues to help) shape me into the sailor I am today,” she says. “I met Dan through a mutual friend when I was fifteen, and he’s been a great friend and mentor. One of the most valuable things Dan taught me is the grace and gratitude that comes with sailing. We’ve sailed together for almost ten years, and I think we’ve sailed in nearly every type of weather condition and had a million different problems on board. We’ve sailed against pros in regattas up and down New England, and against our friends in fun-style regattas. No matter the weather or how serious the competition, Dan always reminds me how lucky we are just to be on the water. I try to emulate Dan whenever I sail, or when I’m coaching my team. Before I start considering tactics and strategies, I always remind myself how incredibly lucky I am to be doing what I love.”

Racing for four years with the Branford High School Sailing Team inspired Haley to sail competitively in college. “I skippered on the University of Vermont Sailing Team and was competitive on both the women’s team and our co-ed team. Like the other New England Inter-Collegiate Sailing Association teams, we fleet raced in the fall seasons and team raced during the spring. Unlike other teams, we sailed in some seriously cold conditions. We started our spring seasons as early as possible, which meant practicing in early February. Despite the freezing conditions, Lake Champlain is the most beautiful place to sail. There’s nothing like being out on the lake while the sun sets over the Adirondacks. The lake and sky would glow vibrant reds and purples, and I was surrounded by the most amazing teammates and friends. College sailing is special and creates lifelong friendships. It was an incredible way to experience college, and for that I am most grateful.”

“I’ve coached and taught sailing since I was eighteen. I started teaching at Yale Corinthian Yacht Club in Branford, and later became the Program Director and Head Coach of our YCYC summer program. I’ve also been the Waterfront Director at Sachem’s Head Yacht Club in Guilford. Currently, I coach the Yale University Sailing Team on weekends and the Guilford Sailing Team during the week. I knew the leadership of the Guilford Sailing Foundation well through connections at Sachem’s Head Yacht Club. They asked if I’d be interested in coaching a brand new team (windcheckmagazine.com/article/new-guilford-sailing-team-has-many-successes-to-celebrate/), and I said yes!”

  “Guilford Sailing Team stands out among other teams on different levels. First, we’re a brand new team. The team was brought together last summer by a group of incredible parents and community leaders, and I started coaching as soon as we had the green light. We are all new to this and there are many things we’re learning as we go, like how to compete in Connecticut, what groups to compete within, how to qualify for Regionals, Nationals, etc.”

“There are so many logistical parts of high school sailing that I’ve had to learn, and it’s special that I’m learning with a team that is so willing and ready to grow. We’re a small group, with three boats at practice on a good day, but we have a lot of talent and my sailors have posted top finishes. Whether at scrimmages or ranked regattas, our boats were consistently top three, including third place at High School Sailing Nationals in New Orleans in November.”

Last fall, the Guilford Sailing Team hosted an Open Clinic with a goal of getting younger experienced sailors (7th and 8th graders) excited for high school sailing. “The clinic was held on a very windy day, and I was very impressed by the abilities of the younger sailors!” Haley enthuses. “They were all excited, and willing to try sailing drills in heavy breeze. I’m excited to have them on the team once they’re in high school.”

“I am beyond proud of this little team. They show up every day to practice with smiles and a willingness to learn and take direction. Realizing their talent, I quickly started doing college-style racing drills, which they took to immediately. I can’t wait to see what the future of Guilford Sailing Team holds!”

Haley is currently working on her Masters in Archaeology from Yale University. “I also do a lot of paintings and illustrations of the shoreline and sailing community,” she says, “which can be found on my website, paintbyhaley.com.”

A member of the Thimble Islands Sailing Club, Haley enjoys racing in their catboat fleet. “I also love going to regattas up and down the coast on Dan Bullard’s J/105 Madcap 1.5. Off Soundings is one of my favorite regattas. There’s nothing like being on the water, with people I care about, doing what I love.” ■

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