The never-ending J/Boats celebrity bounty from the keyboard of StuJ continues to roll, with today’s installment focusing on the talented and ubiquitous actor Kevin Bacon and his lesser-known brother Michael. With this news, every American sailor can say they are now just a degree or two separated…
Ever since learning how to sail on Sunfish at Red Cross summer camp in upstate New York as little kids, Michael Bacon and his younger brother Kevin always loved to head down to the lake for a swim and a sail, often doing both at the same time. Having spent summers at their family’s Adirondack camp, the sporting challenge for the day was often nothing more than hopping into a cedar sailing canoe that their Mother gave to their Father as a wedding present. Using a simple leeboard and a paddle to steer, the boys would have fun trimming the sail on the little lateen rig, going for adventures across the lake like one of their childhood folk heroes, Huck Finn.
After growing up in Philadelphia, the boys went their separate ways, but they retained two great bonds: Boating with friends, and a love for music. While Kevin went off to greater fame and fortune as a Hollywood movie star, Michael stayed in the New York area and ultimately grew his business in the music industry, both as a song writer and performer. Having played in various groups in the past, the two brothers joined together in 1995 to create The Bacon Brothers. That re-connection also fueled their passion for going sailing and having fun anywhere they had a gig near water.
Michael became a happy J/22 owner recently, having bought his boat from the Commodore of the Corinthian YC, a beautiful little club on the Delaware River not far from Philadelphia, PA. With the help of the Commodore himself and friends at the club, Michael not only became a proficient sailor on his J/22, but also managed to squeeze in an ASA Coastal Navigation course at Manhattan YC, practicing on J/24s and J/105s. His dream is to bareboat charter in the Caribbean and is already charter certified…and a trip this coming winter to J/World Sailing School in Key West won’t hurt.
The Bacon Brothers’ latest road trip to Annapolis was for their annual appearance at the famous Ram’s Head, where they had four sold-out shows booked. What to do with a weekend full of working nights and lots of playtime during the day? Of course, find some Napolitan locals and go sailing!
Each of the past few years, Harry Legum of Annapolis Sailing Fitness has urged the brothers to go sailing on the Chesapeake Bay with friends. Last year they sailed a J/105 and took a tour of the Bay. This year Harry wanted to dial-up the sailing experience a notch and tap into brothers’ competitive side. He enlisted the current J/80 North American champs Will & Marie Crump to host a little match-racing on two identical J/80s.
With cool weather and steady easterly breeze that seemed to defy the standard July conditions with “less than zero” winds on the Bay, the group gathered at the Annapolis YC dry-sail area for a brief white-boarding session from Marie . Shortly after, teams were divvied up first by driver, Will on one and Marie on the other; then sorted by Bacon Brother, Michael with Will and Kevin with Marie and then on to the rest of the group that included Michael’s wife Betsy and twin sister Pat along with other close friends Hilary and Andrew Armstrong.
The morning plan was to perform 4 practice starts before moving on to actual races. Once off the dock, the Bacons were introduced to close-quarter trimming techniques on the J/80 and then a few practice maneuvers, including start-stops and penalty turns. When the first sequence began the teams wasted no time showing that bragging rights were important. From the first dial-up, the Bacon’s were into it with a little shock, some excitement and smiles all around.
Race by race, the teams sailed matches that included penalties, changes in lead and overall tight racing with some extremely close calls. Neither team was out to make any concessions in this friendly outing. By the end, older brother Michael was happily taunting younger brother Kevin over the race record and challenging for more— seemingly the old “playground rules” when they were kids haven’t been forgotten!
Later that evening, the Crumps, friends and fellow Napolitans, enjoyed the Bacon Brothers’ show at Rams Head Tavern. Kevin, in particular, was gracious enough to talk on stage about their interest in the town and the sailing it offered, with a special “Thanks” to all their hosts.