Vince Brun

One-design keelboat world champion.

Brun 2004HallofFame
Francois Richard

Although he won the Soling Worlds in 1978, crewing for his older brother Gaston, and then nearly won again the next year after switching positions, Vince Brun suffered a crushing disappointment at the 1980 Olympics in Russia, finishing well off the pace. But maybe it made Brun (b. 1947) and a sailmaker for North Sails in San Diego, stronger in the long term. "I was never the most talented," he says. "My strength is persistence. When other guys might've been thinking about other things, I had just one thing on my mind. I wanted to do a little better." It didn't take long for Brun to move back to the top, winning the Soling Worlds in 1981 and 1983. Having moved from Brazil to the United States, he also began racing Stars in San Diego's powerful local fleet and by 1986 he was world champion of that class. Success followed success, and Brun began to regularly win events like the Star North Americans, Europeans, and Bacardi Cup. At age 49, when other competitors might be slowing down, he went on a tear, winning the J/24 Worlds in 1996 (crewing for Chris Larson) and in 1997 (as skipper), then the Melges 24 Worlds in 1998 and 1999, and the Etchells Worlds in 2000. Each boat has had different lessons for Brun. "The Laser teaches you how to move your body," he says of the boat he sailed the most after moving to the United States. "The J/24 teaches you about crewwork, and the Melges 24 teaches you about proper angles with the asymmetric spinnaker." But when Brun talks about the Star, which he raced to a fourth place in the 2004 U.S. Olympic Trials, he sounds almost reverential: "The Star rig gives you full control in setting up the sails and the mast. Comparing the sail area to the boat itself, the Star is probably the biggest boat in the world. It makes the boat really unstable-you're overpowered all the time." Brun says the Star has helped him see exactly what to do on bigger boats. He trimmed the main on Stars & Stripes in the last Cup campaign and in 2004 is campaigning aboard Crocodile Rock for the Farr 40 Worlds in San Francisco. Does he mind giving up the helm? "I love crewing," he says. "It's made me a better skipper."