Paul de Souza is another one of those young Bahamians in the sport of sailing who have aspirations to represent The Bahamas at the 2024 Summer Olympic Games in Paris, France. He is looking to qualify for the Olympics along with his crew Paloma Cartwright in the Nacra 17. The former St. Andrew’s School student has been sailing since he was 11-years-old and has not stopped since.
“People think that sailing is easy, but at the top level, it is one of the hardest sports in the world. Sailing is the chess of the water and requires so much thinking during competitions that you will end up both mentally and physically exhausted. One mistake in your movement or thought process can be the difference between first and last in a race. That being said, it can also be one of the most peaceful things you can do for fun, and that’s why I love it,” De Souza stated.
The journey began for De Souza with an optimist boat that had scratches and holes in the sail. Despite those flaws, he was able to perform at a high level at the Bahamas National Sailing School (BNSS) summer sailing camp. It was there that he was encouraged to compete in the nationals. He won the green fleet, the fleet for rookie sailors, that year and just kept sailing and racking up awards.
The 21-year-old sailed with the BNSS over the years and continued to get better as the school facilitated him in taking part in top-level regattas by registering and funding him which helped with his development. Sailing has taken De Souza all around the world, competing in world championships and making many friends along the way. According to De Souza, his favorite accomplishment was qualifying for the Youth Olympics that was held in Nanjing, China, in 2014.
On the way to qualifying, he overcame a number of challenges.
“I went in with a lot of confidence and even though I had a rocky start, I [grinded] my way up the leaderboard and ended up comfortably qualifying, even if I somehow came second to last in the second to last race. This helped to boost my confidence and I began to place in the top half of major international regattas and even though the Youth Olympics itself didn’t go great for me. The journey to make it to the Youth Olympics made me a better sailor and a better person.”
De Souza said one of his most special moments was when he got to sit down and talk about sailing with the late legendary sailor Sir Durward Knowles in the lead-up to the Youth Olympics.
De Souza’s life has been shaped by sailing.
“It taught me hard work pays off and there is always room for improvement,” he said.
De Souza said he hopes that his sailing journey keeps engaged, taking him to new places and new heights. He wants the Bahamian people to follow what he and his fellow sailors are doing in the future.