Yacht Week. When you close your eyes, you can feel the wind from the water and smell and taste the ocean on your lips. The sun is warming your melanin skin and you are surrounded by lots of other party goers ready for a good time. You hop from boat to boat, partying, drinking, connecting. The music is blaring, the drinks are flowing, you are surrounded by paradise. While there is fun in Croatia, beauty in Greece, and you can never go wrong with Montenegro, Kelsy Horton realized there was a major miss for people of color: no Yacht Week focused on an African or Black experience. Thus, three years ago, Yacht Week East Africa was born. Talk about sailing for the culture!
This Yacht Week sets sail in the Seychelles where guests can spend two days on land learning about the Seychelles and experiencing the culture prior to setting sail. There are options for attendees to sight see, go shopping and learn more about the islands. During the actual sailing experience, there are options as well. Guests will be able to go on a tropical rainforest hike, snorkel, fish, bike riding, exploring and more. It’s more than just a boat and water!
We caught up with Kelsy Horton, Founder and Host of Yacht Week East Africa, who got candid with us regarding why he started East Africa Yacht Week, things you need to know, and more. Starting a business can be daunting, what placed Horton up for the task? He told Hello Beautiful, “I started Yacht Week East Africa to provide an Afrocentric alternative to the sailing events that take place in Europe and the Americas. I also wanted to showcase the beauty and culture of East Africa, which is under the radar for many people.”
In addition to East Africa being under the radar for many people, sailing isn’t something that Black people are culturally involved in on a large basis. Horton has been sailing since he was a child, “My first sail took place when I was a kid in Chicago, on the waters of Lake Michigan,” he shared with Hello Beautiful. How he got from sailing to a kid to running a yacht week was a little more complex. “In 2015, I moved to Tanzania, which sits on the Indian Ocean, and has a strong sailing community. I started sailing with friends for birthday parties, when guests were in town, and other special occassions. It was at this point that sailing became one of my passions.”
And passionate he is! Horton is hosting three different trips in 2019. Currently, there is room to register for two more trips occurring in September and October. The first one is August 30th to September 8th, 2019 and the second one is October 11th – October 20th, 2019. Anyone can attend! Horton shared, “We celebrate Black culture and we welcome anyone from any background to join us.” If you are worried that you can’t swim, don’t be. Horton assured, “You don’t need to know how to swim to attend Yacht Week East Africa. Swiming during the event is totally optional.” Just wear a floatie girl and get ready to slay some serious beach photos!
If you are someone that has been to other Yacht Weeks and wondering what makes this one different, Horton reveals, “in addition to sailing, beautiful beaches, and partying, our emphasis on culture and cuisine separates us from the rest. Our sailing locations are also off of the beaten path.” So yes, you will have a one of a kind experience with unique photos focused on our culture. While personally, I have never been to East Africa, Horton was able to help me understand what makes this region so special. “East Africa calms your spirit and is good for your soul.” He boldly boasts, “There’s a strong change that East Africa is more beautiful than your favorite vacation spot.” Wow! He also adds that “the people are extremely welcoming and the culture is very accommodating,” which is also a plus for people traveling while Black.
I was looking through images and the company’s Instagram page and I noticed one thing: there were so many Black women in attendance! It made me wonder if Horton was focused on our demographic and behold, he is most definitely catering to Black women. (Come on, Black man!). “There is something that is very appealing about a beautiful woman in her best swimsuit, laid out on a yacht in the middle of the ocean without a care in the world,” he swoons. What makes this trip so attractive to us? Horton explains, “Add a beautiful backdrop like the Seychelles, plus the fact that the event is curated with them in mind, and our Sisters are ready to sign up!”
As mentioned, the company has been around for only three years; however, they are already thinking of expansion. Horton is looking closely at routes in other countries as well as land-based events in Tanzania and Kenya. He tells us to “stay tuned!” …and we are. We end our interview with Horton encompassing Yacht Week East Africa, “It is for us, by us, and we sail for the culture.”
You can find out more about Yacht Week East Africa on their website, here. Currently, you have until February 28th, 2019 to book for the August/September or October trip. Get on it!