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Challenger Lecture Series: Increasing Diversity in Sailing

February 24, 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm

On February 24 at 6 p.m., in honor of Black History Month, Sail Newport is hosting an online community event to discuss diversity in the sport of sailing. Five panelists representing the sailing and Newport communities will join Brad Read, executive director of Sail Newport, who will moderate the event. Guest speakers will include the Honorable Marvin Abney, sailors Ayme Sinclair, Mark Clarke, and Pan Am Games gold medalist Sarah Douglas.  Heather Strout, executive director of the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center in Newport, will also join the panel to talk about community inclusivity.

The sailors will share their stories on how they became involved in the sport and offer perspective on how individuals and organizations can embrace diversity, and more importantly, create more opportunities for persons of color to engage in the sport recreationally and professionally.

As a leader in community sailing, Sail Newport embraces its responsibility to promote greater diversity and inclusiveness within sailing by increasing pathways to recreational and competitive sailing.

“We hope to motivate those in a position to make decisions for competitive sailing programs to embrace and seek out diversity of their crews and inspire young people of color to get involved in sailing at every level,” says Read.

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Meet Our Panelists

Ayme is the Vice President of the National Women’s Sailing Association and the CEO & Founder of Sinclair Social, a leading communications agency. Nominated for many prestigious awards including the Bill Gates Foundation Goalkeepers Award and the United Nations SDG Media Summit Leadership Award, she is also the CEO of Women Who Sail, the largest online group of women sailors in the world.

An African-American woman, Ayme has been sailing for the past five years racing competitively on the J/109 Sweet Caroline, and also participates in races all over the world including the eastern coast of Africa. There, she formed the first women’s sailing team to compete in a race held in Lamu, Kenya.

A video that talks a little about Ayme’s sailing journey: Sailing Video

We’d like to welcome The Honorable Marvin Abney to our panel of speakers for the Diversity in Sailing Challenger Lecture Series. Chairman Abney is a longtime supporter of Sail Newport and as the Chairman of the House Committee on Finance he was instrumental in securing funding for the 2018 Volvo Ocean Race Stopover in Newport.

He knows first hand the work that Sail Newport does for the community with his grandaughter’s participation in our summer sailing programs. We look forward to welcoming Chairman Abney and our other special guests for a conversation on diversity in the sport of sailing

Heather Strout is the executive director of the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center.  She will join us for the panel discussion as a community member dedicated to inclusivity in Rhode Island.

Sarah will join us during a break from training for the 2021 Olympics to discuss diversity in community and competitive sailing. Born in Burlington, Ontario, Sarah started sailing at the age of seven on the island of Barbados.

From a young age, Sarah became one of the top youth sailors in Canada. Today she is ranked one of the best Laser Radial sailors in the world! Winning Gold at the 2019 Pan American Games in Peru has only pushed her forward towards her goal of competing at the Olympics in Tokyo this summer.

Sarah Douglas Website

Mark Clarke is a multi-generational black sailor who represented Bermuda internationally in the sport. Much of his lifelong sailing career was spent alongside his father, who was also an accomplished sailor.

Four sailing clubs were established during a racially-segregated Bermuda. Bermuda is no longer segregated, and sailing now has a rich history of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Mark and his family’s sailing accomplishments continue to benefit all in Bermuda and provide inspiration for the sailing world.

Mark is also currently the deputy chair of the SailGP Bermuda Grand Prix Steering Committee.  He has returned to the sailing community after retirement and participates on race committees and is working to organize and grow sailing awareness in a diverse and inclusive environment.