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‘Good Trouble’ Brings Diversity, Equity and Inclusion to Sailing

In honor of Black History Month, Latitude 38 reached out to SoCal sailor and US Sailing board member Marie Rogers for insights into her nonprofit program Offshore Racing Outreach (ORO), as well as other sailing community leaders. ORO’s Andrews 56 Good Trouble completed the 2023 Transpac, finishing fifth in its class and without injuries or major breakdowns in 11 days between L.A. and Hawaii.

Good Trouble’s crew comprised mostly people of color, including five women in a nine-person crew. Offshore Racing Outreach’s core mission is to recruit and train individuals in the sport of big boat offshore sailboat racing. It’s a program that’s one of a kind, not only on the West Coast, but probably across the country. (Good Trouble is an homage to the late congressman and civil rights activist John Lewis: “Get in good trouble, necessary trouble, and redeem the soul of America.”)

Marie Rogers aboard Good Trouble
Marie Rogers at the helm, passing Los Angeles Harbor Light.
© 2024 Marie Rogers/Facebook

Marie Rogers, the skipper of the boat and a former commodore of the Los Angeles Yacht Club, described herself as “ecstatic” over the results.

“We set out to achieve this goal and we were successful,” Marie said. “We could not have foreseen the challenges that came along the way, and they were significant. Each time we met them head-on, worked it out, and got the ball rolling again. I feel like I grew as a person and a leader. It was definitely a humbling experience.”

Rogers, who is Black and vice president of US Sailing, said she had worked on the project for more than a year and a half.

“We were able to expose a new crop of talented sailors to the offshore world. Among many things, they learned how to navigate, how to troubleshoot systems, how to stay nourished, handle stress and lack of sleep, and what it takes to pace themselves mentally and physically in this serious endurance sport.”

Yosh Han, one of Good Trouble’s crew, said that while the race wasn’t her first sailboat passage to Hawaii, it was definitely different.

“Racing 24/7 was a new experience for me and it felt very different than doing a passage or delivery — mainly, the hand-steering around the clock,” she said. “The night watches and living aboard are similar, but the exhaustion is more apparent with the hand-steering. This trip was colder and upwind longer than expected, but once we cracked off to a reach and downwind with warmer weather, it felt fantastic to be out on the Pacific Ocean. The water is so blue. Sailing under the full moon and the Milky Way is a privilege. So few people get to experience it. When I’m back on shore, I dream of being at sea.”

Good Trouble’s crew celebrate their finish of the 2023 Transpac.
© 2024 Marie Rogers/Facebook

Han said she felt fortunate to be part of the Good Trouble program. “It’s an incredible opportunity that hasn’t been available to me through my sailing community. While I’ve done many ocean passages and deliveries as well as day races, I hadn’t had the chance to do many offshore races.”

She added that “it’s critical to represent the global majority on the water. So often, people of color in the marine industry are in hospitality or service positions. In performance racing, it’s been mostly homogenous and monoculture. Offshore Racing Outreach has the potential to turn day sailors into offshore racers. It’s a unique opportunity to raise the sport at large. We see many athletes of color in other sports but the yachting industry hasn’t caught up yet. There’s the potential to elevate racers in the program to sail on Good Trouble but also graduate, so to speak, and race on other performance teams.”

Continue reading in the February issue of Latitude 38.

Read about a 2023 study on diversity and inclusion in collegiate sailing here.

Tune in to a recent Good Jibes podcast with Marie Rogers, talking about the DEI Gap in Sailing

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