A GROUP that teaches disadvantaged children from across Gosport to sail has marked the end of its first season going out to sea.
Members of Gosport Youth Afloat enjoyed an afternoon of celebration on the jetty of Hornet Sailing Club in Haslar Road.
The group started sailing in May this year after completely re-fitting their second-hand 23ft yacht, Solaris, in January.
Since then they have gone on to take 17 children, aged between seven and 18, out on the water.
Darian Anderson, 13, a year 8 pupil at Brune Park School, has been taught how to navigate.
She said: ‘It’s really good, It’s quite scary when the boat tips when you tack but it’s good other than that.
‘I’d never been before that – it was my first time.
‘It’s something different; in the summer holidays was my first time.
‘It’s good that they’ve used their time to volunteer to help us.’
And Darian’s brother, Dwight, seven, a year two pupil at Siskin Infant and Nursery School, has visited the boat on shore many times.
He said: ‘It’s really good, I like the inside, there are seats in there; want to sail it next year.’
PCSO Jane Dawson from Gosport refers children to the scheme that she meets in the community, offering them the chance to be productive and improve their behaviour.
But the children involved in the project are not in trouble with the police.
Trustee of the project, James Stallard, said that the project aims to offer disadvantaged children in Gosport a chance to try an activity that is seen as inaccessible.
He said: ‘I feel it’s a worthwhile project, being able to help the youngsters who, when you think about it, would be sitting at home on the computer, doing nothing else, whereas with us they could get out on the Solaris, enjoy the day, enjoy the summer, and get out on the same footing as the people who have the money and big yachts.’
The group has been partly funded by the Rotary Club of Gosport and has also been given free use of Haslar Marina for two years.
After this year went well Mr Stallard hopes that it will expand with an extra boat and more instructors.