Bringing Diversity to the BVI Spring Regatta

04/12/2017 07:30 pm ET
The Trekr Racing team in action during the BVI Spring Regatta.
BVI Spring Regatta
The Trekr Racing team in action during the BVI Spring Regatta.

Just over a month ago, I posted about how surprised I was that when I left political activism, that I found an outlet for activism in the sailing and yachting world. Indeed, when The Moorings sponsored an all LGBT team put together by Trekr Adventures, it got a good bit of press, some of it interesting. The BVI Spring Regatta was supportive from the start, welcoming our team with open arms.

When our team assembled in the British Virgin Islands, it was a mix of novice sailors and a few with a great deal of experience. But we all clicked from the first moments we spent together. What ensued was a team that was the talk of the regatta; fierce competitors on the race course and spirited colleagues on the dance floor. While the sailing world lacks diversity, everyone we encountered embraced our presence. Indeed, most said they were looking forward to meeting the all-LGBT team they had read about.

The Trekr Racing team at the 2017 BVI Spring Regatta. They are possibly the first all-LGBT team to race in a major regatta.
Trekr Adventures
The Trekr Racing team at the 2017 BVI Spring Regatta. They are possibly the first all-LGBT team to race in a major regatta.

In our conversations with people in the weeks leading up to the regatta and throughout the regatta, no one had heard of an all-LGBT team that competed in a major regatta. While we can’t be certain, it appears that we made some history with our amazing week sailing around the islands off of Tortola.

One of our crew, Hilary Howes, wrote a blog post about her experience on the Trekr Adventures website. Among the inspiring things she wrote:

While the racing was subdued, the nightly parties were an area where our queer crew could really shine on the beach ‘dance floor’ and gregariously socializing. The Transgender Day of Visibility came up during the race appropriately and I found myself not only educating the sailing community, but also my cisgender team mates. The relationship of the T to the LGB in the movement has been rocky at times and so I have found it just as important in my activism to work on building relationships within the community as well as with the world at large.
I had the most amazing time with the Trekr Racing crew on just an every minute fun way. Talking, hanging out, trying new things and listening to great music the whole time. The caring kindness that I felt from everyone onboard really helped me to learn and be willing to try even crazy things, like Fender Rodeo.

After a day of racing, we pulled off into a bay for some swimming and relaxing. Fender Rodeo is a really silly thing that one of our crew mates suggested...and we went with it. Before we knew it, we had a double elimination tournament arranged. Each round consisted of two competitors wrapping their legs around a fender, the inflated sausage shaped things that hang over the side of a boat to protect it from a dock or other boats, and jumping off the side of the sailboat. Whoever kept their legs around the fender the longest advanced to the next round. It was an afternoon full of laughs and silliness.

Indeed, the whole week was fully of laughs and smiles. Even at the most intense times of racing, we all found humor in some aspect of it. It was very easy to forget the historic nature of our endeavor. Our Skipper, Dave Sossamon was interviewed by The Washington Blade after the regatta:

Another thing that Sossamon was looking forward to in Trekr Racing’s first regatta was the chance to interact as an out athlete at the international event.
“The best way to address bigotry towards a group is to make friends with someone from that group,” Sossamon says. “It’s easy to be publicly out with this crew.”

Our goal entering this regatta was to raise the the visibility of LGBT people in the sport of sailing. Without a doubt, we did that. And it was a fun time doing it. We also hope to increase the participation of LGBT people in sailing. That’s what we venture to do with Trekr Adventures. We organize sailing adventures around the world in exotic places at a reasonable price. Most of our customers are first time sailors and come away from the experience with a love of being on the water and harnessing the power of the wind to reach your destination.

This is quite a journey we are on and I’m excited to see what lies ahead. Trekr Adventures, through our trips and future races invites you to join that journey.

The gay pride flag, the Trans pride flag and the Trekr flag above the boat we raced in the 2017 BVI Spring Regatta.
Trekr Adventures
The gay pride flag, the Trans pride flag and the Trekr flag above the boat we raced in the 2017 BVI Spring Regatta.
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