Bahamian female sailor Paloma Cartwright, who is aiming to represent The Bahamas at an Olympic Summer Games in sailing, is studying at McGill University, in Montreal, Canada.
The Long Islander began sailing in 2005 when she was just five years old and has used it as a driving force in her life ever since.
She will be looking to represent The Bahamas in sailing at the 2024 Olympic Games.
“Embarking on my 2024 Olympic campaign with Paul de Souza in the Nacra 17 (mixed) class brings to mind every important life lesson sailing has taught me. Balancing university studies, training in Florida, as well as a new diet and fitness program has been no easy feat. This has brought even greater focus to the prioritization of goals. A medal from the 2024 Olympics is now my ultimate goal,” Cartwright said.
Cartwright spoke about the impact that sailing has had on her life and how terrified she was at first.
“To try and articulate the impact sailing has had on my life is no easy feat, but I can easily say it has truly taught me countless valuable life lessons over the years. I recall being terrified when I sailed my first optimist nationals at Montagu Bay at five years of age but persevering because that was what sailing was about,” Cartwright said. “Sailing taught me how to adapt to the ever-changing conditions of life, just as we adapt to weather conditions on the water.”
The highlight of Cartwright’s summer every year was going to New Providence to sail in the Bahamas National Sailing School’s (BNSS) summer sailing program. She saw all of her friends from the different islands who she usually only saw at the optimist nationals – friends who became like family to her. That sailing family consisted of mostly male sailors, so the girls stood together and worked hard to stand out. Being a female in a male dominated sport was not always easy, but this was another life lesson for Cartwright. She stated that every time she was recognized for her accomplishments or sometimes just participation, she felt an immense sense of pride.
In addition to international class sailing, Cartwright loved competing in sloop sailing regattas.
“For me, sloops made the sport that much more fun. It’s less about winning and more about being able to have bragging rights. It also helped advance my skills as a sailor because skippering a sloop is all about teamwork,” Cartwright said.
From the beginning of her sailing career to high school graduation, sailing was a driving force for the young Long Islander. Cartwright had to be focused in school, so that she could fly to New Providence for all the major regattas during the year and not fall behind.
Cartwright won countless regattas, a national youth award for excellence in sailing, the Bahamas Olympic Committee’s (BOC) Presidents Cup in 2015, along with many other achievements over the years. This helped in building her portfolio and undeniably contributed to her winning the All-Bahamas Merit Scholarship Award in 2017, which now pays for her education at McGill University.
Another huge accomplishment for Cartwright was organizing and leading the Long Island’s Summer Sailing Camp in 2018, where over 70 young sailing enthusiasts participated. According to Cartwright, it was a great feeling to be able to teach youngsters in her own community how to sail and ultimately how to form a team to represent the island at the optimist nationals. She was also an instructor at the BNSS summer camps and is honored to have introduced sailing to so many young sailors on Long Island and throughout The Bahamas.
Looking back, the aspiring Olympian said she has a great appreciation for the training she received through the Mack Knowles Junior Sailing Club on Long Island, the Bahamas Sailing Association (BSA) and the BNSS. Cartwright encourages every young person in The Bahamas to participate in sailing.