Diversity In Sailing

Diversity in Sailing – Where Is It?

Ayme Sinclair is just an ordinary sailor, but at the same time she is anything but. Like many of us, she races with her team on Wednesday nights, then heads back to the club to have a couple of cocktails and some laughs. Some nights they do pretty well, some nights just okay, but it’s always a good time.

The most distinct difference between Ayme’s team and the rest of the fleet is her crew is made up of sailors of different races and genders while most of the fleet is not. There is no animosity, there’s no bigotry, but this is emblematic of clubs across the country and beyond.

When I was out competing, I realized there weren’t a lot of people who looked like us,” Sinclair said of her first few races on Oyster Bay Long Island, near her home. “I thought: Why aren’t there more of us out here?

But irrespective of that and inspired by her new found love of the sport, Ayme dove head first into the world of sailing, enjoying all it had to offer. She took some ASA 101 courses, to become more “useful” and subsequently sailed as much as four days a week. All along, the thought of diversity stayed with her and, at a certain point, she took action.
She created an Instagram account, @Sailingnoire that encourages people to join the sport, and as Ayme puts it: “Do the same thing [as me] and fall in love the way I did.” Her ultimate goals were and are to see a younger, more diverse population within the sailing community.

Sinclair reasons that one of the issues for this lack of diversity is that many communities simply don’t have within them people who know how to do it. It’s a sport that, in many ways, depends on a generational sharing and in these areas, it isn’t on anyone’s radar. In her mind, awareness can change the model.

That’s when Instagram and Facebook and these social media platforms become super helpful,” Sinclair says. “Because you can reach a big audience and show them what’s going on and kind of shape that conversation.

In a relatively short amount of time, Ayme was up to 60,000 followers on her account, which brought her quite a bit of attention including a feature story in Essence magazine that spoke of a trip she took to East Africa (Kenya) where she fielded an all female team to race in an area that had never seen such a thing. A television crew caught wind of it and filmed the event for upcoming programming, furthering the message that sailing is not just a sport exclusively for men.


With all this in her wake, Sinclair has since started her own Instagram account (@aymesinclair) focusing on her travel adventures. That account has, at last count, 118,000 followers.

With such a solid presence on social media combined with an infectious spirit and a marketing background, Sinclair recently quit her day job and began her own business called Sinclair Social which specializes in building buzz through social media methods. She credits sailing for her professional happiness and successes.

It’s given me so much. I started doing it at a time in my life when I was not happy with what I was doing with work—I didn’t feel fulfilled,” Sinclair says. “So, this was my outlet and I was able to use it to help myself find joy. And I know that this [joy] is something everybody experiences, not one gender or one culture. I really do feel that opening sailing up to people of color and more women is a great thing, so they can see how fun it is and how you can build community and develop relationships. I want to see more people experience it and make it so it’s not so one-way anymore.

Sinclair also made mention of the preconception that sailing is cost prohibitive. She says it’s no secret the image of sailing is one of affluence and it’s true that boat ownership can be pricey, but just getting out sailing is actually more than affordable, very often free.

It’s not true at all,” Sinclair says of the impression, “Especially when you join a team. As a crewmember all you really have to do is buy some sailing gloves and maybe a 6-pack of beer!

Today, Ayme continues to sail, have adventures and inspire others to take part. From a fateful invitation to go sailing (and a little ASA training), this optimistic force of nature has turned her life into something satisfying and fulfilling.

It all came out of the love of sailing. If I had never fallen in love with it and started that account for the team — I wouldn’t be here right now, I’d still be working that 9-5 job.

So do what Ayme did… Find an ASA sailing school near you. It might change your life!

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Roger FernandezRobinCarla Speed McNeilMike PottsJ. Smith Recent comment authors
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Brian L.
Brian L.

These women are promoting women’s sailing and supporting an excellent cause:



Two thumbs up!

Kevin P.
Kevin P.

Diversity makes life better and more interesting. I am for diversity. But when people keep identifying our differences, over and over, keep pushing our gender, racial, sexual differences over and over, is that a good thing?….seems to me that to keep continuously pushing what makes us different in our faces keeps us divided, it drives wedges between people. “Hey, look at me, take notice, I am different than you”! How about just accepting we are all human and we all have strengths and weaknesses and live and let live.

Carla Speed McNeil
Carla Speed McNeil

Because awareness matters. That’s what she said herself— what she noticed was not that she was different but that she was practically alone. Seeing no good reason why she should be, she concluded that it was a simple matter of awareness. Most people don’t want to be The First One or The Only One. If they can say to themselves that there are other people like themselves involved, it’s easier. Role modeling is what we used to call it, and it’s not just for kids on career day.


Talking about our differences and sharing our different life experiences is crucial to bringing out all our shining personal qualities. Those differences, of course, include race and gender. You are special too, Kevin! Celebrate it, enjoy it, talk about, laugh about it, cry about it, get to know it! Why “Just” do or “Just Accept” anything? Race and gender history is fascinating and shapes so many aspects of who we are. I think, discuss, solve problems, and look at many angles in economics, physics, my daily routines, race, gender, interpersonal dynamics, and of course…points of sail. There is no need… Read more »

J. Smith
J. Smith

Indeed, why not live and let live and stop complaining about stuff being shoved in your face. I found the article and video inspiring, and I, along with some friends will be taking some ASA classes this winter.

Mike Potts
Mike Potts

This Gal is GREAT I’d like to meet her! My hats off to ya mam! God Bless ya

Roger Fernandez
Roger Fernandez

You go girl, great story