The Universal Sailing Club was formed in 2001 by black sailors on the Chesapeake Bay, primarily from the Baltimore, Annapolis and Washington, D.C., areas.
The idea was the brainchild of Marcus Asante, who conceived the club as a way for African Americans to learn and share the sailing arts in an environment conducive to our culture and outlook. Asante became the first commodore of the club. Together with fellow sailor Michael Campbell, they have continued to guide the club as it grows. They have helped keep it grounded in the history and heritage from which it began. It was the understanding of what came before that galvanized early members of the club as they developed an organizational expression for the growing interest by blacks in the sport of sailing.
From its origins, the club has grown to include member sailors from outside the Chesapeake Bay, and it welcomes the interest of all sailors in the mission and activities of the club.
The club organizes on-the-water sailing activities, including regattas, raft-ups and cruising getaways. Its members have participated in sailing charter events as captains and crew along the Atlantic coast, in the Caribbean, the Pacific, Europe and elsewhere. They have carried the club burgee to far-flung locales, including the Seychelles Islands and the Mediterranean.
The club has collaborated with other black boating clubs, and it has offered support to major bay sailing events, including the Annapolis Maritime Festival and the Volvo Around-the-World Race.
Club members participated in the opening in Baltimore of the Frederick Douglass/Isaac Meyers Maritime Park, which is a living museum and a tribute to the Chesapeake black sailing tradition.
The club believes that education and water safety are vital to enjoyment on the water. Its members have participated in classes leading to certification in various boating skills, including the Coast Guard captain’s license.
The club is an affiliate member of the Chesapeake Bay Yacht Racing Association. News coverage on the club has appeared in various media including, among others, The Sun, Washington Post, Baltimore City Paper, Community Times, Spin Sheet, and the Black Outdoorsman, which is an online periodical.
Club members possess a variety of experiences, skill sets and professional qualifications. Members include certified sailing instructors, semi-professional crew, and the club has conducted a summer sailing day camp for young people.