Being intentional about diversity

Published on August 4th, 2021

As a 20 year veteran of the marine industry and past commodore of Chicago Yacht Club, Lou Sandoval is a treasured cheerleader for everything boating, with his views enriched by his Hispanic heritage and #girldad status. Sandoval comments on the topic of diversity in sailing:


I can say that where there have been some progress, there are still many barriers. Over a beverage some time, I am happy to share how it took the greater part of six years on the dealer advisory council to one of the largest global marine manufacturers to just create marketing collateral that depicted women at the helm.

Because, you know – it is her boat too.

Traditional roles have depicted women sunning themselves in the cockpit, the bow or down below. This was all for a manufacturer who was lead by a female CEO (great granddaughter of the founder) and extremely sound business leader.

It’s not just sailing, it is the power industry as well, where the ‘art of marketing power boats’ consists in certain circles of bow honeys, and scantily clad women in swimsuits as the epitome of ‘targeted marketing’. However, this is completely oblivious to the fact that women make up 50% (if not more) of a household buying decision. Yet it persists.

Here we are in 2021, still writing about it. I love that Lydia Mullan calls this out in her recent article, The Case for Gender Equality. Long overdue. Our sport is at a crossroads and it needs an injection of new blood to keep going. To help administer the sport on Race committee, to help handicap designs, and to help make the marine industry their profession.

As a sailor that has won nine Mackinac Races, I am proud to say that seven of those races were with one of the best sailors on Lake Michigan – who happens to be a woman – Cristina Cordero.

I’ve noticed in my own experience that our female drivers are more focused and less distracted. Straight-line speed that will blow anyone out of the water. Is that a gender strength? Who knows, but traditionalists might argue the contrary. As a #girldad, I’m doing my part to build the next generation of sailors – ones that don’t look like us or the traditional salts.

Our Mac Team this year had two ‘greenies’ – collegiate sailors from Fordham University and University of Wisconsin. They did wonderfully, even in the choppy early upwind leg of the race. In fact, my niece did a phenomenal job grinning ear to ear while driving the boat in the chop and alternating to main trim. It made the trip completely worthwhile regardless of our mid-pack finish, providing another memorable race for the record books.

So join me in making sure that we are intentional about this. Diversity isn’t one color, one gender, one preference or one ability. It is ALL of that. It is all of us!

Front Row: Hector Guzman (4 time Collegiate All-American Hobart College- Represented Mexico in the ’19 Pan-American Games in Peru); Cristina Dombrowski (Collegiate Sailor University of Wisconsin); Caroline Sandoval (Collegiate Sailor Fordham University- Cpt of the team); Kevin Teborek (4x Collegiate All-American Hobart College; 2x World Radial Laser Champion). Row 2 Lou Sandoval (Bosun , Navigator and Cheerleader) ; Ritchie Geoghegan (bowman extraordinaire); Matin Sandoval (Mac Chairman , 9x Mac Winner and all around great guy). Not Pictured : Scott Steele – Olympic Silver medalist ’96 Atlanta.

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