Sun protection is important for everyone, but especially for sailors who spend most of their days in or by water. The FDA advises using extra caution near water and sand because these surfaces reflect damaging UV rays and increase your chance of sunburn, premature aging of the skin and skin cancer.
Brenda Scannell is a huge fan of sailing and recently took over the Q-Mart sailing apparel and gear store at the Quissett Yacht Club (QYC) located in Falmouth, MA on Cape Cod. She has also made it a priority to provide all of the 2011 QYC summer sailing instructors, the role models within the club, with Coolibar sun protective swim shirts and sun hats.
So why provide these instructors with sun protective clothing? Turns out Brenda knows a thing or two about sailing and why it’s a brilliant idea to forgo a bikini for a UPF 50+ swim shirt.
Brenda lived the first ten summers of her life on a wooden boat and then came to Quissett in 1978. For ten years, she raced Herreshoffs, a historically significant type of sailboat. Then, Brenda was forced to take a break from sailing when she was diagnosed with skin cancer. “I’ve had 18 Squamous Cell Cancer surgeries below my knees. My regular dermatologist at Mass General Hospital said, ‘Be sure to tell your group that any one of them could have killed you!’”
After this life altering experience, Brenda, her sons, and her husband decided to ‘pay it forward’ as they know sun protection is key in preventing skin cancer. “In my name, and as a gesture to me, my sons and husband decided to fund Sun Protective Clothing for the 2011 sailing instructors,” says Brenda. Both of her sons Matt, the lead singer, writer and guitarist of the band Vertical Horizon, and Ryan, a Reconstructive Surgeon in Otolaryngology, Ear, Nose, and Throat, went through the QYC sailing program. Brenda says, “Ryan deals with so much skin cancer. He has seen terrible things! Regarding the sailing instructors and sun protection he said, ‘Mom, whatever it takes, make it happen!’”
Brenda asked each QYC sailing instructor go to the Coolibar Sun Protection Clothing website, which was recommended to Brenda by her Mohs Surgeon, to choose a UPF 50+ Swim Shirt and Hat to have red QYC Logos embroidered on so they could wear protective swim shirts during their sailing classes. Brenda also told the instructors that she is now bringing Sun Protective Clothing to the Q-Mart for the sailing class students to purchase. “You [the instructors] are the role models. If the students see you wearing these clothes, they will follow suit as YOU ARE THEIR HEROES!”
Sun protective clothing has been worn at the club over the past few years, but now, sailors are taking sun protection more seriously. “Our lives at Quissett are spent outdoors all of the time on the boats and the beach,” says Brenda. “All are truly positive about the sun protective clothing that is being provided. I feel that the sailing instructors might have some resistance to the protective clothing in very hot weather, but the answer to that is to wet the shirt and the sailor is immediately cooled down. I know we’ll continue to promote sun safety at the QYC in the future.”