Squeezed out sailors must be given a new slipway

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Few would argue that Sir Ben Ainslie’s America’s Cup project would not be good for Portsmouth and indeed that ancient quarter that spawned the city itself – the Camber area.

Old Portsmouth is the home of the remains of the city’s commercial fishing fleet and the base for dozens, if not hundreds, of recreational sailors and their crews.

For decades they have quietly gone about their business there giving the area the character and buzz which makes it so attractive to visitors.

But when the Ainslie project was first mooted and then agreed with such alacrity, it would appear little thought was given to these stalwarts of the sailing community and their needs.

In all the excitement of attracting Sir Ben and his giant yacht-building centre, and, let’s be honest, the money that spins off from it, the men and women who have used the Camber for years have been forgotten.

That is obvious from the comments of two of them in our story on page 13 today.

The boat users say they have been squeezed out of the Camber because the construction of the America’s Cup base has taken up so much space.

These are sailors who arrive with their boats on trailers with the intention of launching them from the slipway adjacent to Sir Ben’s complex. Now there is nowhere for them to leave their trailers let alone their boats when not in the water.

To their credit the frustrated sailors are not anti-Ainslie and everything that goes with the America’s Cup and, indeed, they have come up with their own solution – an alternative slipway on the other side of the city at Eastney on Langstone Harbour.

One of them, Kevin Turner says: ‘I’m not against the Ben Ainslie project but I’m against the way it has taken away our leisure facilities.’

But there is a thick shingle bank at Eastney which makes it impossible to use that slipway. It is the city council’s responsibilty – the council so keen to welcome Sir Ben.

So, the least it can do now is make that slipway useable.