Anni Browning, skipper of Sydney lesbian sailing team Sisterhoodlums, admits her crew is a long shot for the gold medal at this month’s Chicago Gay Games.

Obviously we’d love to win gold, but I think the chances are not great, she said, acknowledging tough competition from other Australian teams.

But Browning, a sailing gold medallist at the 2002 Gay Games in Sydney, said Sisterhoodlums would make an impact whatever its performance on the water.

As part of a sponsorship deal with ACON, the four-woman team has agreed to mentor young gay men and lesbians through support organisation Twenty10 after they come back from Chicago.

The sailors will take Twenty10 clients sailing on Sydney Harbour. They will also donate a harbour cruise for an ACON raffle.

It’s us with the community and giving something back to the community, Browning said.

Besides Browning, Sisterhoodlums includes fellow Australian Julie Phillips, Canadian Karina Hould and US-born Dayna McGeeney.

I used to have a little boat called Sisterhood, it was actually a hood [a type of boat]. People call hoods things like brotherhood and sisterhood.

When we entered the Gay Games, Sisterhoodlums seemed like a good name.

The team will compete under the Australian flag in the non-spinnaker sailing event in Chicago, where they’ll put enjoyment ahead of national loyalty.

It’s not like the Olympics in that it’s not so country-centric. It’s more about going over and doing well for your team and the camaraderie of the Games, Browning said.

The team formed last September and will line up against about 30 crews when Gay Games racing begins on 18 July.

Browning is hoping to top her multi-team sailing gold medal from Sydney with individual gold for Sisterhoodlums, but says competition will be tough.

This time we want to win gold outright -“ or at least a medal, she said.

About 300 Australian athletes will compete in Chicago, the second biggest delegation after the United States. Around 12,000 participants have signed up.

We all had a great experience during the Gay Games in Sydney, Browning said.

We’re expecting it to be like that again -“ it’s just wonderful to be in a city where there are so many out people.

Follow Sisterhoodlums’ progress on the team’s weblog.

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