Diversity and Inclusion


The mission of the US Sailing Diversity and Inclusion Committee is to to promote and support inclusivity within the sailing community in the United States. We recognize diversity as essential to achieving our mission. For us, diversity refers to the differences of culture, ethnicity, race, gender, age, beliefs, religion, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, family status, physical ability, appearance and ideas. We are committed to achieving greater diversity throughout the sport and fostering an environment that is more inclusive to all sailors.

To help us achieve our mission, we seek to identify individuals and organizations that provide best practices and access to sailing for all. These are organizations that align with the standards set forth by US Sailing and offer safety, fun and learning through programming.

This committee will work with the US Sailing Board of Directors to create and support initiatives that will help to promote access to the sport of sailing and increase participation by encouraging local sailing organizations to provide an inviting inclusive environment in which to sail. If you are interested in being involved with the Diversity and Inclusion Committee, or if you have general questions or comments, please contact DEI@ussailing.org


Profiles, News, and Articles

One thing unites sailors…Sailing! However, there is wide diversity in how and why we became sailors.
Some of us grew up in sailing families, while others may have been looking for a new challenge.

Check out a few Success Stories from Community Sailing Centers!


You can read about some of the people who became sailors in less common ways, including a city-kid turned-record-setter who discovered sailing on a camp trip; a veteran who was connecting her peers to
sports programs when she found herself hooked by a sailing program focusing on the veteran
community; and another city kid, introduced to sailing in high school, but who only truly learned sailing
skills when a change of circumstances had him take on a number of new challenges. The stories are endless, but they start here!

Captain Donald Lawson Sets His Sight on Breaking Records
“I don’t come from a sailing family.”

From an athletic family, Donald Lawson was looking to excel in a sport of his own, just as his siblings had. When his mother organized a summer camp trip on the topsail schooner Lady Maryland, 9-year-old Donald’s passion for sailing was kindled, and when the captain told him he could sail around the world, he knew he found his calling. Through middle school and high school he developed his skills through Baltimore’s Living Classroom (https://livingclassrooms.org/programs/shipboard-education/) and by joining the Naval Junior ROTC, and at 17 he began teaching at Baltimore’s Downtown Sailing Center (now a Seibel Sailing partner). “I knew I was breaking ground as I was the only instructor that looked like me,” he remembers. For the next two years he spent the sailing season developing skills as an instructor and sailor, and by applying lessons he had read about on his long commute. 20 years later, Captain Lawson can still quote those articles and books.                 Continue reading........


Debora Abrams-Wright is Leading Comrades-in-Arms and More                                                                                                    “Our mission as a DE&I committee is to help connect sailing clubs with all of the underserved groups out there who have yet to see themselves as a part of this.”

As the Chairman of the US Sailing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee and as a recent addition to the Board of Directors at Hudson River Community Sailing (HRCS), Sergeant Debora Abrams-Wright has come a long way in a relatively short time.

Abrams-Wright first set sailing from Long Island as an adult in the early 1990’s, “but it was short lived and I didn't learn much,” she admits. A lifelong learner, she picked up sailing again some 20 years later, long after leaving active service, while working at the Veterans Administration as an Employment Specialist assisting veterans like herself. She had also started an organization, Veterans Adaptive Sports NYC, to help vets take advantage of the many free sports programs that were available around New York City (all of which she has participated in). Debora first organized Veterans On Guard, a fencing program, and soon she was honing her fencing skills while competing in local tournaments!

The second program she helped veterans join was sailing with Hudson River Community Sailing’s Soldiers Under Sail, which has given veterans lessons and club memberships since 2014.

“I was one of the only female vets to join the program and only a few of us were persons of color,” she said. Read More..........


Quemuel Arroyo Adapting and Thriving                                                                                                                                     “I'm back to sailing because the staff at HRCS embraced the challenge of getting a paraplegic at the helm of a boat.”

Quemuel Arroyo grew up on an island but, when that island is Manhattan, the nearest yacht club might not be the sort of place you can just wander into.

“I grew up in Hamilton Heights, Manhattan, and though I lived next to the Hudson River, my family, and the rest of my Black and Latino community had no access to experience the water,” explained Arroyo, who goes by “Q.”

However, he did sail on Long Island Sound as a high school freshman through NYC Outward Bound Schools, and he continued to sail occasionally with friends who had connections to boats. While on that first Outward Bound trip he met Robert Burke, who would later become the Executive Director of Hudson River Community Sailing (HRCS), and they stayed in touch.

Following a spinal cord injury, Q was invited to join HRCS, and sailing became a collaborative effort.  Continue Reading..............


Diversity Statement

The US Sailing Community Sailing Committee has adopted this statement as one of the cornerstones of their mission.


We, the US Sailing Community Sailing Committee, recognize diversity as essential to achieving our mission, “to promote and support community sailing in the United States.” For us, diversity refers to the differences of culture, ethnicity, race, gender, age, beliefs, religion, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, family status, physical ability, appearance and ideas.

We are committed to achieving greater diversity throughout the sport and fostering an environment that is more inclusive.


Diversity makes good development sense, is critical to achieving the mission of the organization, and is an integral part of the success of the US Sailing Community Sailing Committee’s other strategic initiatives. It is our goal to expand the image of sailing to one that invites and supports the involvement of all.


Great organizations are characterized by a passion for excellence and the foresight to anticipate opportunities to further their mission. To realize our mission, we believe we must:
• Establish diversity as a key strategic priority in all facets of sailing.
• Encourage national, regional and local sailing organizations to adopt diversity as a priority.
• Expect that every leader will include diversity objectives in his or her performance appraisal and business-planning process.
• Build a culture that respects, values, and celebrates diversity.
• Serve as a model organization for all others that aspire to an inclusive environment.

Focus Areas

To implement this statement, we propose the following as the preliminary areas of focus:
• Increasing awareness in the organization of the importance of diversity.
• Recruiting and hiring greater diversity into our sport.
• Providing mentoring, development, education, and training.
• Demonstrating behaviors that are aligned with the philosophy.
• Developing strategic partnerships and relationships that will complement our efforts to achieve greater diversity throughout all areas of sailing.