Captain Sandy From ‘Below Deck Med’ Disagrees With Captain Lee That Diversity Exists in Yachting

Captain Sandy Yawn from Below Deck Mediterranean agrees with Black yachties that the industry lacks diversity.

Captain Sandy Yawn
Captain Sandy Yawn |Karolina Wojtasik/Bravo

“There is no diversity in yachting,” Yawn told Showbiz Cheat Sheet. She pointed out that not only does the industry lack opportunities for people of color, but also for women.

“So I disagree with Captain Lee [about the industry being diverse],” she said. “How many women are at the helm, how many people of color are on board,” she said. Yawn credits Bravo for bringing awareness to the issue. “The reality is that Bravo has brought this awareness to our industry.”

Captain Lee Rosbach from Below Deck answered a fan question on Twitter about why the cast lineup rarely includes people of color. He said the industry was actually diverse. “Yeah, we had some [crew members] that weren’t on Camera, engineers, some of who I’ve worked with on the show and off the show more than once,” he replied. “And would again, given the opportunity to.”

Black yachties aren’t represented in the industry

“So I’ve calculated that like, 0.02 percent of people in this industry are people of color,” stew Simone Mashile said during the first episode of Below Deck Season 7.

“Oh, it was such a mission to even get the first job because they were looking for like these blonde, blue-eyed people. So I’m excited about learning how to do service and being like a well-rounded stew.”

Mashile told Showbiz Cheat Sheet she’s experienced discrimination in the yachting industry, but not on Below Deck. “I would go through interviews with the captains and we get to a final stage,” she shared.

Brian de Saint Pern, Kevin Dobson, Abbi Murphy, Ashton Pienaar, Captain Lee Rosbach, Rhylee Gerber, Simone Mashile, Courtney Skippon, Tanner Sterback
Brian de Saint Pern, Kevin Dobson, Abbi Murphy, Ashton Pienaar, Captain Lee Rosbach, Rhylee Gerber, Simone Mashile, Courtney Skippon, Tanner Sterback |Heidi Gutman/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank

RELATED: ‘Below Deck’: Captain Lee Addresses Diversity in the Yachting Industry

“And it was me against like another girl and the captain would come back saying, sorry, the owner just prefers blonds,” Mashile said. “So that’s not gonna work.”

Women in leadership roles are also underrepresented in the industry. Yachtie Jenny Matthews recalled to Business Insider about passing a high ranking deck exam.

“I got a lot of amazing feedback from my peers,” she said. “They were like, ‘Congratulations! Did you know that there’s less than 10 women that had those tickets?'” As a result, she started She of the Sea to help connect women who work in engineering and those on deck.

‘Below Deck’ has brought attention to the lack of diversity in the industry

“I think Below Deck actually reflects the industry,” Sheila Ruffin, “The Boss” of Soca Caribbean Yacht Charters told Showbiz Cheat Sheet.

“Out of all of those seasons for them to only have four people of color, to me really reflects what the yachting industry does in real life,” she remarked.

Alex Radcliffe, Malia White
Alex Radcliffe, Malia White | Karolina Wojtasik/Bravo

RELATED: ‘Below Deck’: Simone Mashile Claps Back at Fan Who Gave Her Heat About Diversity in Yachting Remark

“But it takes people like me being blunt and saying, look, you don’t know what Black yachties go through,” she said. “[Yachties] are very afraid to speak up because they don’t want to get blackballed.”