From island paradise to the city by the sea

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One of the first questions that we often ask one another at the College of Charleston is “Where are you from?” The common responses range from somewhere in South Carolina or nearby, to those escaping the brutal winters of the northeast. There are a few outliers, like those from the Midwest, West Coast or other countries, that help keep this campus’ population diverse. One freshman sailor from the College seems to top them all, as she hails from Port of Spain, the capital city of Trinidad, an island country in the Caribbean.

Located almost in South America, right above Venezuela, this country more widely known for its fantastic ecology and beautiful beaches, is also home to sailing star, Kelly-Ann Arrindell. Having spent her whole life in Trinidad, Arrindell initially became interested in sailing through her parents, who introduced her to the sport.

“I pretty much got into sailing from my parents, who were sailors as well, and they got me into the sport when I was about six years old,” Arrindell said.

Though located in a place with crystal clear water and white sandy beaches, sailing is not truly ingrained into Trinidad’s culture, yet, thus making Arrindell unique even in her homeland.

Kelly-Ann Arrindell and Gerald Williams each took second at the Men’s and Women’s Singlehanded National Championship in November in Annapolis, Maryland. (Photo courtesy of CofCSports.com)

“[Sailing] is one of the smallest sports in the country, but we are trying to make it a little bit bigger,” Arrindell said.

Having participated in two World Championships and numerous other competitions, Arrindell has been able to travel to the United States a few times, but living here has been a whole other adventure.

“Being away from home for so long was a little bit difficult, but it is nice to be away from home and experience different things,” Arrindell said.

Arrindell is here in Charleston to improve as a sailor, even though her resume is already spectacular. Representing her country since she was 13, Arrindell is now the top female sailor in Trinidad, having competed last year in the National College Championships and World Champions in Mexico.

“I have done two World Championships for Trinidad in the ‘Laser,’ as well as the Pan-Am Games,” Arrindell said.

Yet, though the water is quite a bit colder than her usual tropical climate, Kelly-Ann Arrindell finds sailing almost here almost easier. In comparison with the small number of people who sail in Trinidad, there are many sailors here, which Arrindell finds more motivating as she is able to train with other people, unlike at home, where she trains alone.

“Coming here has given me a lot more opportunity to sail, and be coached,” Arrindell said.

Having successfully navigated herself through the first semester, Arrindell has been able to find her feet and can almost claim Charleston as her second home. Her many teammates have become friends, and she pursues an education in sports as she begins her exercise science major at the College.

“Charleston is a pretty great place and my teammates are very welcoming especially for someone who is not from America,” Arrindell said.

Though she fits in seamlessly in Charleston, one aspect of Arrindell’s homeland that she will always carry with her is her very unique accent. Combining the richness of the Caribbean with a hint of British English, this is one trait that will always distinguish Arrindell from her peers.

“When I am up here, I have to slow down and almost speak in a different accent, so that people can understand,” Arrindell quipped.

Whether sailing on the tranquil waters of the Caribbean or on the choppier, cooler waters of Charleston harbor, Arrindell continues to find success wherever she goes. Only scratching the surface, Arrindell has three more years to lead the College to success, and then hopefully, achieving her dream of sailing in the Olympics for her small island country.

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