Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy broadens horizons
Since being selected as a Games venue, the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy (WPNSA), which began in 2000, has benefitted from significant investment – with all improvements designed to help the site prosper long after the Olympic Closing Ceremony.
These include the installation of a 250-metre slipway along with 70 marina berths and a dinghy park for 600 boats, as well as new lifting and mooring facilities.
The modifications were not only delivered on budget but also three years before the start of the Games, meaning a host of world events have already been able to take advantage of what the Royal Yachting Association describe as the leading natural sailing waters in northern Europe and among the best in the world.
So far, the 2006 ISAF World Youth Championships, RS:X class World Championship in 2009 and the IFDS (Paralympic Sailing) World Championship in 2011 have both been staged at the facility, which is home to five Olympic sailing areas.
WPNSA has a commendable set of long-term goals, including an active legacy programme, commitment to environmentally friendly practices and an emphasis on ensuring the venue caters for local, national and international sporting events.
It has given local school children from Dorset the opportunity to experience sailing first-hand through initiatives such as GREAT sailing adventures, which allows young people to Sail for a Fiver.
The scheme is part of the Academy’s active legacy programme, which has given over 9,000 children a chance to try sailing so far. Chief executive of WPNSA John Tweed explained in June: “We bring classes of 10-11 year olds on site to enjoy half day training courses for just £5 per child and offer this to 1,600 children annually. This activity will continue long after the Games at the WPNSA with the support of the Chesil Trust and Sail Laser.”
Local headteacher Mrs Wesley-Barker added: "This is an incredibly exciting time for our children as they learn in school about the Olympics, finding out about its history and understanding more about different cultures, countries and sports personalities. Weymouth & Portland are now busy preparing for the Olympic and Paralympic sailing competitions and so what better way to inspire our children? They have thoroughly enjoyed the sailing and learnt new skills.”