The goal of Rainbow Races Inc. has always been to make the world a little smaller. To Connect the community, Inspire others to venture to the sea, and Motivate people to challenge themselves.
We are pleased to announce the beginning of the Sailor Spotlight series, telling the stories of LGBTQ sailors from around the world. If you would like to share your story, click the button below.
Hi I’m Patrick Burks; I’m a sailor (and race official and race organizer.) My pronouns are he/him and I’m gay.
What’s the first boat you ever sailed on?
I think it was a Beneteau 32 we were cruising with the family when I was pretty young so my memory is a bit fuzzy. My parents sold the sailboat they owned before I was born but still loved sailing and being on the water. So when I was like 4 or 5 was one of the first family Vacations I slightly remembered; to Kentucky lake (I grew up in St. Louis, MO) sailing on a chartered boat just cruising up and down the lake. I don’t remember much from the experience except enjoying it and some time below during thunderstorms but I remember growing up always loving boats and the water.
What was the first boat you ever sailed a race on?
I sailed my first race on a Thistle on Crevé Coeur Lake (in Missouri) the summer after my Freshman year of college. I had seen a random re-broadcast of the America’s Cup on TV some Sunday a few years prior and having a vague interest in racing sailboats, but actually doing it first hand in real life was crazy. I still remember the bruises from hiking the Thistle’s narrow rail and banging my legs into everything in the boat!
What made you fall in love with the sport?
What made me fall in love with the sport was the community. It was never just race or sail and go home. There was always family, food, and/or a trip to the bar afterwards. It’s a diverse community with people from all different professions and backgrounds that come together for their mutual love of sailing and the ocean (and lakes, rivers, etc).
What are your current activities and connections in sailing?
I’m currently based out of Oyster Bay, NY working as the Race Program director at Oakcliff Sailing - a training and coaching center for sailing athletes through training programs, a residential student program, and by hosting a ton of regattas. I’m in charge of all the regattas we host and a number of other activities surrounding making the organization run. So I’m primarily on the Race Course just about every weekend officiating (Race Committee and/ or Umpiring). I still like to actually sail too and do my best to make time for it whenever I can!
What’s your favorite boat to sail on?
Well just for pure sailing horsepower and maneuverability the Match40’s at Oakcliff Sailing (aka Swedish Match 40’s) are awesome boats to sail and race just about any day. They’re symmetrical spins with a sloop rig that is powered up in all but the lightest of Western Long Island Sound breezes and gives you very tactile feedback if you’re off on your trim or helm position. They just don’t offer any built in cup holders so not that great for cruising.
What’s your biggest achievement in sailing?
Thus far I’d have to stay running back to back Grade 1 match racing regattas in Oyster Bay, NY in 2019. Both events; Oakcliff International and Thompson cup are part of the Grand Slam series of 4 Grade 2 Match race regattas in the US in a month’s time that attracts top sailors from the US and around the world. The reputation helped bring a particularly talented and high level group to Oyster Bay that year that we were able to upgrade both events to Grade 1s which is a big deal in the match racing world and hope we can accomplish again!
What do you want to do next in sailing?
I want to help connect sailors and build the base of sailors and fans of sailing in the US. If we have a bigger fan base and base of support that can help push up the athletes going for gold. So ultimately I want to keep sailing and keep getting other people sailing!
What do you have to tell the future generation of sailors?
Be yourself and pursue what you are passionate about. You will have you fight for it, but don’t let the fight get in the way of your end goals and don’t let an opportunity pass you by because you don’t think you can get it or it’s too hard. Work hard, work smart, work with others as part of the team and you can achieve it all!
What do you like to do when ashore and not working on sailing things?
Well it’s hard to make time for myself but I do enjoy an occasional golf game, coffee, cooking, wine, swimming, playing music, photography, and watching movies/ tv shows.
#sailing #LGBTQ #connect #inspire #motivate #oakcliff #sailorspotlight #lgbtqsailing
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