There's no denying that African Americans have made their mark on boating and maritime history. However, many Black men and women continue to shape today's boating, sailing, fishing, and watersports worlds.
In honor of Black History Month, we're highlighting eight notable Black boaters that everyone should follow.
1. Emmanuel Williams
21-year-old Emmanuel Williams is currently a Sea-Doo Ambassador. Having grown up fishing with his dad in Florida, he has an innate love for the water. After high school, he bought his own watercraft — a Sea-Doo Spark — to get out into open water and start catching bigger fish.
Currently, he runs a successful Instagram account, offering viewers a sneak peek into the fisherman lifestyle.
Follow Emmanuel on Instagram.
2. Khristian "Khris" Rousseve
Khris Rousseve's father introduced him to fishing as a youngster, and he quickly became enamored by the large reels used by bass anglers. So, he taught himself how to bass fish and eventually teamed up with a competitive angler.
Not before long, he was the first African American student-athlete in Louisiana to receive a scholarship for bass fishing. Not only that – but he made history by securing a spot on his team's starting lineup when he began in 2021.
Follow Khris on Instagram.
3. Captain Nashawn Taylor
Captain Nashawn Taylor is a Master Captain, the highest-ranking level within the U.S. Coast Guard. And as a Black woman filling a niche in an overwhelmingly white boating industry, she's making waves.
Captain Nashawn is the brains behind Be You! Charters, a unique boat charter company coordinating paint and sail excursions. In addition, it's the only paint and sail charter operating in the Washington D.C. metro area.
4. Rhonda Harper
You've likely seen Rhonda Harper in the news as the organizer of multiple paddle-outs around the world. As a tribute to George Floyd and other Black victims of police brutality, these events intend to open dialogue about the pain caused by continued racial inequalities.
In addition, Rhonda is the founder of Black Girls Surf, a Los Angeles-based organization that advocates for Black female surfers and trains them to go pro.
Follow Rhonda on Instagram.
5. Brian Latimer
Hailing from Belton, South Carolina, Brian Latimer (B-Lat) is a rising YouTube star fisherman and established tournament pro. He's fished competitive bass tournaments for as long as he can remember. However, B-Lat ascended to stardom on the MLF/Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit, where he won the Lake Seminole, Florida tournament in 2019. In addition to his famous YouTube angling accounts, B-Lat hosts a fishing series called Straight Up Fishing on Waypoint TV.
6. Khadjou Sambe
Student of Rhonda Harper (see above), Khadjou Sambe is Senegal's first professional female surfer. Having begun her surfing journey when she was just 13 years old, Khadjou made it her mission to train the next generation of young Black girls to defy social norms and make waves. At one point, Khadjou was the only Senegalese woman in the World Surf League, and she's currently training to represent Senegal in the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris.
Follow Khadjou on Facebook.
7. Ayme Sinclair
Described by Essence Magazine as a "fierce entrepreneur," Ayme Sinclair is the former Vice President of the National Women's Sailing Association and the CEO of Women Who Sail (aka the largest online community of female sailors). If that isn't enough? She's also the founder of an online community celebrating cultural diversity on the water.
8. Sheila Ruffin
Growing up on Virginia's Eastern Shore, Sheila Ruffin always appreciated the relaxation and beauty of spending time on the water. But when working in St. Thomas (U.S. Virgin Islands) as a coastal and maritime tourism attorney, she was stunned by the lack of diversity among yacht charterers. As a result, Sheila launched a boutique travel agency called Soca Caribbean Yacht Charters, the first Black-owned business of its kind.
To summarize, Sheila says that her mission is "to ensure this industry does not continue to overlook black and brown people and millennials."
Follow Sheila on Instagram.
Conclusion: Follow These Amazing Black Boaters!
As you can see, there are many Black boaters, anglers, and water sportsmen (and women!) you should watch and support.
With February being Black History Month, we are thrilled to introduce you to these epic names in boating and encourage you to check them out. However, it's important to remember that these Black boaters' talent and contributions are worthy of being celebrated year-round.