By Julia Miller River Community Sailing (HRCS) and the Knickerbocker Sailing Association (KSA) came together on June 23, 2018 to celebrate the 15th Annual Stonewall Sails Regatta. What began as a gray and cloudy day brightened when a wave of 30 racers donning rainbow flags appeared in the HRCS boathouse on Pier 66 in Manhattan.

Gloomy skies and light air failed to diminish the enthusiasm of participants in the 15th Annual Stonewall Sails Regatta.   © Tom Kluepfel

It wasn’t the weather that changed, but rather the spirit of the KSA crew who came to race J/24s provided by HRCS, who hosted the event for the 7th consecutive year, wrapping up Pride Week in New York City. KSA and HRCS are committed to fostering diversity in the sailing world. Established by 13 friends from New York City in 1994 and now boasting more than 150 active members, KSA is the first and most prominent LGBT sailing association in the New York City area, identifying as “a friendly, nonjudgmental group of people that have joined the club to share new life experiences on the water.” The Stonewall Sails Regatta remains the longest-running one-design LGBT regatta in the world.

Despite light wind and heavy current, KSA racers kept morale high throughout the day. “Eventually the wind filled in and the current slacked enough to get off four tightly fought races,” said regatta co-organizer Matt Kapp. “Many thanks as always to HRCS for making it all happen without a hitch. We’re looking forward to racing with HRCS again next year!”

HRCS’s mission is to develop leadership and academic success in underserved New York City youth through sailing education, and provides maritime education and recreation to the community at large. HRCS partners with 150 students from local public high schools for Sail Academy, an award-winning afterschool program that uses sailing as a platform to provide STEM and leadership, with options to earn academic credit in math and science.

Twenty-eighteen is a pivotal year for HRCS. The organization recently launched STEM to Stern, a campaign to raise $1.5 million to increase capacity and provide a better learning platform for students through the purchase of a new fleet of boats, and expansion to a second location in Inwood, NY.

The day ended with a touching reminder from KSA Commodore Bill Hellmers, who remarked, “We are here today, not because we want special rights, but because we deserve equal rights. Not to say that we are different, but rather to be unified by our similarities and our humanity.” For more information, log onto

Both HRCS and KSA look forward to a continued partnership as they work to bring diversity, community, and competition to the sailing world. Organizations interested in sponsorship opportunities or hosting an event with HRCS should contact the organization at

Julia Miller is the Development and Volunteer Coordinator at Hudson River Community Sailing.