Raised by an athletic family, Captain Donald Lawson was looking for a sport of his own to excel in from a very young age. When Lawson was just 9-years old, his mother organized a summer camp trip on the topsail schooner, Lady Maryland, where his passion for sailing was sparked. The captain of the ship told Lawson he could sail around the world. From that moment on, he knew he found his calling.
In middle and high school, Lawson developed his skills through the Police Athletic League and by joining the Naval Junior ROTC. At age 17, he began teaching at Baltimore’s Downtown Sailing Center, where he later became the Head Instructor.
After proving himself as a skilled racer, Lawson was invited to join teams for club regattas and races with the Chesapeake Bay Yacht Racing Association (CBYRA). As he began leading teams to victory on bigger and faster boats, Captain Lawson started chasing bigger goals. He met with many of the accomplished sailors from Chesapeake Bay, which provided new opportunities to sail on all types of racing sailboats, from Maxis to Multihulls.
While delivering boat to make some extra money in college, Captain Lawson discovered that a lot of sailing records were still based on freight routes developed in the 18th and 19th centuries. With the guidance of the World Sailing Speed Record Council, Captain Lawson identified 33 records he plans to break — ranging from shorter point-to-point courses, such as New York to Miami, to the global circumnavigation record. Captain Lawson believes he can shave over 30 days from the U.S. single handed round-the-world record, currently 107 days.
Through all of his work, Captain Lawson seeks to level the playing field by making sailing available for people who wish to sail for a living, as a hobby, or for glory.
He started the Dark Seas Project to promote Diversity, Equity & Inclusion in the sport of Sailing. His work caught the attention of US Sailing’s Board of Directors, and he is now serving as their Chairman of US Sailing’s DE&I Committee.
Captain Lawson’s rise through the racing ranks and his goals for breaking records have helped him develop quite a following, both locally in Baltimore and nationally across the US.
Fast Facts (and Personal Achievements):
- Started Sailing at 9 years old in Baltimore City.
- Personal fastest sailing speed = 35kts.
- Career goals include breaking 33 World Records.
- Boat Number 28 because of Birthday Dec 28th.
- Loves playing Chess and Spades.
- Married to High School Sweetheart, Tori.
Captain Donald Lawson’s gear of choice: EP Sailing Collection
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