Love Seattle’s Duck Dodge? (Now you don’t have to) Skip it next week.

UPDATE: 

I appreciate the DD Race Committee’s reconsideration and response to the July 17th theme I took issue with, they have decided to remove the theme.
 
Writing to 48° North Sailing Magazine and on my own blog allowed me to reflect and work through my opinion, solidifying my beliefs and ambitions for the Seattle sailing community. I was given the opportunity to express this opinion and drive others to discuss something that clearly struck a chord.
 
I believe more than ever we can hold ourselves to a higher standard, especially in our recreation and have a lot of fun without it being at the expense of others. Thanks to everyone who read, shared and talked about what is best on-and-off the water, you made a difference.

Happy Summer, Seattle Sailors! If you’re like me, you’re love/sun/beer drunk about this time of the year. Late evenings, eager crew and only half the layers. Yes, sailing in Seattle is great, but sailing in Seattle during summer is unrivaled.

There is one blemish on my summer sailing schedule, though. Earlier this year, Duck Dodge Race Committee decided July 17th’s theme would be “Pimps and Ladies of the Night.” I think this theme is absolutely unacceptable and compromises the fun atmosphere of Duck Dudge and a sailing community that is constantly trying to grow and “get more people on the water.”

Not sure what “Duck Dodge” is? Read my summary from 2014 on Fremont Universe.

Initially, my reaction was to shrug it off. Then, I overheard that this title was a revised version. My indignation quickly rose as I thought, “They looked at this theme, reconsidered it and yet they still put it on the schedule with the name only slightly tweaked?!” The F-bombs flowed after this realization.

I was not alone. As friends of both genders and various levels of sailing experience bemoaned the insensitive, offensiveness and “fratiness” of the theme, I wondered “how can we change it?”

Why does this matter? In my mind, it is often too easy to continue with the politically incorrect, simply because “that’s the way it is.” Think I’m too p.c.? Too bad. I believe in behaving the way things should be, not the way “they just are”.

I first approached this situation as a recurring practice that needed to be disrupted. However, after learning about the lack of precedence, I felt dismayed that in 2018, after the record-breaking Women’s Marches, prominence of #MeToo and day-to-day discussion of diversity and inclusion, this is what Seattle’s most popular Race Committee chooses.

In May, I composed my thoughts and emailed the contact on Duck Dodge’s website with the subject “Feedback from a fellow sailor”. A week later, with no response yet from DD Race Committee, I shared my opinion to the editor of 48º North and the following was published in the magazine’s June issue:

48º North June 2018 - Duck Dodge Letter to the Editor

But that’s not the end. Later in May, after the June issue had gone to press, I did receive a response from the Duck Dodge Race Committee.

In summary, they referenced the challenge of pleasing a community of over 2,000 sailors and the fact that the theme has appeared several times in the past. They did say the theme would stay on the 2018 schedule but removed from the greater list of rotating themes that organizers pull from each year.

I was happy to hear the theme would be retired but also disappointed that it could not be changed almost 8 weeks out, especially with the plethora of additional themes at their disposal. My response follows:
Hiya,
Thank you for your response and consideration. I’m happy to hear that the theme will not reappear in the future and will skip Duck Dodge on July 17th in favor of an evening with a theme I’m more on board with. 
With a long list of themes at your disposal, I sincerely hope you’ll keep my input in mind and try to view 2019’s themes from a diverse set of perspectives. It truly is impossible to appease everyone but I believe focusing on themes that uplift our community, such as Pink Boat, is an incredible opportunity and will make Duck Dodge even better for years to come.
– Cara

So now what? Well, there are two parts.

Part 1: I’m calling it a “sail-in”

First, consider skipping Duck Dodge on Tuesday, July 17 this year. I will be at the dock with an amazing crew, discussing what we hope for the future of our sailing community and welcoming landlubbers aboard. A casual “sail-in” if you will, with all the other best parts of Duck Dodges: drinks, laughs and nerdy sailing jokes.

If you do sail next Tuesday, please do me a favor and skip this theme. Look around on the water and think about how lucky we are to be out, on sailboats in Lake Union during the middle of a Seattle boom. How can we share this with more people?

Part 2: DD RC, you can do better

Second, I’d like to take issue with the Duck Dodge Committee’s reference that “Pimps and Ladies of the Night” or similar versions have appeared multiple times at Duck Dodge in the past. While that may be true over Duck Dodge’s 44-year history, it does not appear to be the precedent in the last decade.

Based on my research, the theme “Pimps and Ladies of the Nights” or similar has not appeared in the last 10 years. The closest specter I can find is a “Tart & Vicars” night in 2011 when overall, the themes appear to undergo a revival.

 

My advice to the DD RC is to just stop and think about it. That includes looking around and thinking about the composition of the race committee: Does this group reflect our greater community?

Thanks for reading. I hope to see you on the dock on July 17th.
– Cara

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2 thoughts on “Love Seattle’s Duck Dodge? (Now you don’t have to) Skip it next week.

  1. Thank you for trying to make the sailing community a better place for women!

    The powers that be definitely do not always understand the subtle and overt barriers they place for women.

    My husand was helpful and filled out thw entry for the Elliot Bay Sailing Series. Under “owner” he listed “Maureen and Troy Batterberry”. Even though he doesn’t skipper and, often doesn’t even attend the races, the race committee erased my name completely.

    So, on July 12, a female skipper took second place with a female crew but the race committee listed a man as getting second place.

    Keep fighting to make it better!!!

    1. Thanks for reading, Maureen! I’m sorry to hear about your experience. I’ve always thought it unfortunate that the skipper is listed but not the hard-working crew, on any size boat! Especially now that race management has gone digital, that should be a manageable addition. Guess I’ll have to ponder that some more for my next piece! Enjoy this wonderous weather!

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