Bill Pinkney: First And Foremost, A Sailor

A solo circumnavigation intended to inspire his grandkids evolved into a life-changing media event that stands as a testament to perseverance. -BoatUS

Bill Pinkney’s unique and extraordinary boating accomplishments earned him the National Sailing Hall of Fame’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2021. This now-87-year-old’s landmark sailing accomplishment was a record-breaking two-year solo circumnavigation (1990–1992) aboard the 47-foot cutter Commitment, making him the first African-American sailor to circle the planet via the five great southern capes.

We need to put sailing’s image forward as a major sport, which it is. As a developmental and educational sport, which it is, and support and publicize these programs out there. I give kudos to the National Sailing Hall of Fame. At no time, in any place, have they ever mentioned me as a Black sailor. No place. Only as a sailor. And that’s the identity that all of us who sail want. Religion, sexuality, color, none of that has anything to do with the fact that, first and foremost, we’re sailors.