NASSAU, BAHAMAS- Bahamian sailor Spencer Cartwright is an aspiring top-level international sailor who has a lofty goal to represent The Bahamas at the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris, France, in the Laser Class.
The Roger Williams University sailing captain began his impressive sailing career from the age of eight at the Bahamas National Sailing School (BNSS).
At school, the senior has been immersed in the sport as he spends a lot of time on the water as the captain.
“It has honestly been the best time of my life and I urge every sailor with the opportunity to take it. Sailing at Roger Williams in the NEISA (New England Inter-Collegiate Sailing Association) Conference has allowed me to get countless hours on the water. I get to practice four days per week and compete nearly every weekend, consistently knocking out up to 18 races among the most competitive fleets in our region, while being provided with coaching and equipment of all sorts,” Cartwright said.
He has won more junior national championships in the Optimist Dinghy Class than any other sailor in The Bahamas – four to be precise – and is currently the reigning Laser National Champion – open event, not junior. From the time he started to sail, Cartwright was always in the top ranks of the classes in which he participated, the main ones being the Laser, Snipe and Sunfish classes in addition to the Optimist class. He has represented The Bahamas internationally at major regional and world events, such as the Laser Junior World Championships, the Optimist World Championships, the World Sailing Youth Championships and the Central American and Caribbean Games (CAC).
Sailing for The Bahamas has taken Cartwright to countries such as New Zealand, Italy, Canada, Colombia, Bermuda and the Dominican Republic.
It has been tough on him during the lockdown because he was unable to go on the water. He said it might have been one of the longest periods that he went without touching the water since he began sailing.
His mother got him involved in sailing by sending him to the Bahamas Sailing Association’s (BSA) summer camp. He said he was reluctant at first, but soon developed a liking for the sport.
“Despite my protest, she enrolled me in the BSA’s summer camp. However, the second the wind hit my sails I knew it was for me. The opportunity to steer my own boat on the open water was both empowering and freeing as there were no boundaries or lanes to confine me. It brought me a new sense of individualism and responsibility. Yet, the deciding factor for me to join the year-round program were the amazing friends I had made that summer,” Cartwright said.
He said sailing has taught him how to be accountable because on the water there are no judges.
“When sailing, there typically aren’t any judges on the water and when rules are breached the responsibility falls on the competitors to handle them accordingly by enforcing or taking their own penalties. This is directly parallel with daily life. To earn your competitors’ respect or feel satisfied in victory, you must be your own referee. Each of these skills has improved my academic ability and led me to earn various scholarships and accolades. The goal to perfect these skills has made me a decorated sailor with several Optimist, Laser and Snipe national championships to my name and earned me the experience of competing at the international level.”
Cartwright credits sailing for him being who he is today, both academically and socially. With his mindset, leadership and experience, his goal of going to Paris in 2024 is attainable as he looks to hit the water with The Bahamas on his sails.