The Pan American Games will have a distinctive College of Charleston flavor this week when the sailing competition begins.
Six current or former College of Charleston sailors, including assistant coach Connor Blouin, will be taking part in the Pan Am Games in Peru. The week-long sailing competition is being held in Paracus, located 160 miles south of the capital of Lima.
Stefano Peschiera (Peru), Quique Aranthoon (El Salvador), Juan Maegli (Guatemala), Kelly Ann Arrindel (Trinidad), Ben Smith (Bermuda) and Blouin (United States) will be taking part in the event. Arrindel is a rising senior and Smith a rising junior on the Cougars' team. Former College of Charleston sailing director Greg Fisher, who guided the Cougars to four national collegiate titles, is serving as Blouin’s coach in the Sunfish division.
“It makes me really proud to see so many former College of Charleston sailors on hand for this event,” Fisher said. “As a coach, as a sailing director, this is kind of what you dream about. Seeing them develop and continue to chase their dreams is so cool."
Fisher stepped down as College of Charleston's sailing director last year to become the chief operating officer for U.S. Olympic Sailing.
Blouin is having a strong season and won the 2019 North American Sailing Championships in the Sunfish division in June. That event, which will feature many of the same competitors Blouin will see this week in Peru, was held in Charleston.
“Connor is having a great season and he’s really focused on this event,” said current College of Charleston sailing director Kevin Jewett. “Connor had a very strong regatta here in Charleston back in June and beat out some really top competitors.”
Fisher, who hired Blouin at the College of Charleston before he left for the U.S. Olympic program, is convinced that the Cougars assistant coach is a strong contender in his division.
“Connor has been training very hard, working hard and he’s sailing really, really well coming into this event,” Fisher said. “After winning the North American regatta, he’s one of the favorites to medal and maybe even bring home the gold. We have a lot of confidence in Connor.”
Peschiera, Aranthoon, Maegli and Smith will be competing in the men’s Laser division. Arrindel is competing in the women’s Laser division. Peschiera, Aranthoon and Maegli all competed in the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics. Maegli, who was the 2013 Intercollegiate sailor of the year, finished ninth at the Summer Games.
The waters around Paracus are home to Peschiera, who grew up in the area. That should give the 2018 Marlow Ropes College Intercollegiate sailor of the year — college sailing’s version of the Heisman Trophy — a decided advantage.
“This is where Stefano grew up, so he should feel very comfortable here,” Fisher said. “You can literally see his house from the course. He’s very focused and ready to go. I think he’s got a very good chance to medal.”
Peschiera is also serving as host for the Cougars contingent this week.
“Stefano is wearing many hats this week,” Fisher said. “He’s been a very gracious host to everyone.”