Journey from the Bahamas to Bristol: Exploring the life of Spencer Cartwright

Spencer Cartwright (left) ventures out sailing with RWU teammate Emily Gildea (right).

Isabella Gentile, Features Editor

Natives of Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island itself seem to account for a large percentage of RWU’s student body. However, the school does see a small portion of international students who bring a sense of geographical diversity to the university.

Freshman Spencer Cartwright, an undecided engineering major from the Bahamas, chose to attend school here as it met all of his desires for a university. It offers engineering as a major, small class sizes, and a really competitive sailing team. Looking at his first year as a whole, he is ultimately happy with his decision.

I can balance hard engineering classes with sailing on a very high level and I have also made some amazing friends along the way,” Cartwright said.

Besides obvious features like the warmer temperatures, Cartwright claims that there are multiple aspects of his birthplace that differ from Rhode Island. He reflects on the relaxed way of life at home as he contrasts it to the way that “everyone rushes to get things done, whether it be eating, working, or even walking here.” Additionally, he has noticed that people are more shy, which makes it harder to get to know everyone. The population increase was another culture shock to Cartwright.

“The community is way larger so it’s hard to know everybody. Meanwhile back home you know almost everyone because of how small it is and you are bound to bump into them on occasion,” he said.

Sailing is an activity that Cartwright began to embark on when he was eight years old. His mother forced him to attend a summer sailing camp, which he pretended to hate out of spite but actually loved, as he realized that he wanted to continue on with the sport. He acknowledged that being a member of the RWU team requires an extensive amount of work and time, and that hours of practice, learning, and fitness are involved.

He said that there is definitely an upside to competing with them; however, “It is all worth it due to the team atmosphere and comradery that you have pushing you and amusing you.”

Since joining the team here, he pointed to the 2017 Franklin Lane Trophy, held at Tufts University, as his favorite competition thus far. This regatta exposed Cartwright to his first team racing event, as he always sailed as an individual at home. He had no idea what to do in a team race, but was chosen for this competition because the team was low on people to compete that weekend.

“The coach literally told me and my crew to do what we know, which is sail fast and stay in front. This meant we sailed along as our two teammates did all the work and made way for us to lead,” Cartwright said.

At the end of this competition, this method fortunately worked out in favor of the team. Out of six teams participating in the event, RWU had the best record, with seven wins out of eight races. The winning team had to obtain the most wins overall, and the university team did just that.

Looking toward his future plans, Cartwright plans to continue sailing after college and even coach young sailors back at home on the side. He currently does not have a specific career goal, but he mentioned that an ambitious dream might lead to him representing the Bahamas in the Olympics, sailing in the Laser class. For now, Cartwright will continue his studies and sailing at Roger, dividing his time between the waters of the Bahamas and Bristol, RI.