Lawson has platform to fulfill aspirations

Published on April 8th, 2022

As an African American, Captain Donald Lawson recognized early on that his passion for sailing was breaking ground when his peers did not look like him. However, a lack of racial role models did not slow his interest to do things others had not, and now he has a platform to fulfill these aspirations.

Lawson’s Dark Seas Project has acquired the ORMA 60 Trimaran Mighty Merloe from Howard Enloe for a program of record-setting and education. From its base in San Diego, Mighty Merloe was well known on the California offshore circuit, setting the Transpac Race record in 2017 of 04:06:32:30.

Originally Groupama 2, it was the last ORMA class trimaran to be built, launched in 2004 and winning five ORMA championships under skipper Franck Cammas. After serving as Oracle Team USA’s training platform for the 33rd America’s Cup in 2010, the VPLP designed 60-footer was sold to Enloe in 2014.

Captain Lawson and his team at the Dark Seas Project plan to conduct a west coast tour with the boat where they will visit sailing centers, yacht clubs, and school teaching about DE&I (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion) opportunities in the maritime industry as well as environmental benefits clean energy systems provide.

“No system out there is perfect, but the goal is to try and do things in the cleanest and safest way possible while still achieving your goals,” notes Captain Lawson. “That is why we are focused on developing systems that will allow us to prove you can be successful while also being smart.”

Captain Lawson also serves as the current Chairman for US Sailing’s DE&I Committee. Although his work to help diversify the sport is well known, he believes he can do more.

“When I started, I didn’t have a role model in the sport who looked like me,” shared Captain Lawson. “I hope that through my work, we won’t have the next generation go through the same. I want to leave the sport better than I found it.”

Captain Lawson and his Dark Seas Project will announce the upcoming West Coast Tour schedule, & locations soon. If you are located on the West Coast and would like Captain Lawson to visit your center, please contact him here:

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