Boost for sailors as charity takes over Portsmouth Watersports Centre

BUDDING sailors are being urged to take to the water after a charity took over the city's watersports centre.

Thursday, 2nd November 2017, 6:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 12th December 2017, 11:40 am
Cllr Linda Symes hands over the watersports centre keys to Andrew Simpson Sailing Foundation CEO Richard Percy

Opportunities for children to get involved in watersports are set to improve after the Andrew Simpson Sailing Foundation took over running the centre on the Eastern Road.

The charity – which was set up following the tragic death of talented Olympic sailor Andrew Simpson in 2013 – signed a 25-year lease with Portsmouth City Council.

The charity has gone from strength to strength in recent years and Richard Percy, its CEO, said the acquisition could help encourage more children to take to the water.

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He said: ‘Our key focus is to get children, of all abilities, out on the water and taking up watersports.

‘Portsmouth is home to the Solent and offers great opportunities for the city.

‘With the America’s Cup racing here and the presence of Sir Ben Ainslie and Land Rover BAR, there is a real appetite for sailing in the city, so it’s great to have our own centre here.’

The charity has its own centre in Weymouth, with the Portsmouth centre its second ahead of two more acquisitions it is planning in the future.

The centre will deliver sailing, windsurfing and powerboating courses, a range of paddle sports, outdoor activities and an extensive instructor training programme.

Since its inception, the foundation has hosted thousands of children every year at its annual summer sailing programme in the city.

Councillor Linda Symes, cabinet member for sport, said: ‘This really is fantastic news as it will give all the children in Portsmouth the opportunity to get out on to the water.

‘It is a big win for the city as we are so blessed by our access to the Solent and it should be used by everybody.

‘It is such a big asset and one I hope many children will seize the opportunity to use through the sports centre.’

Adrian Saunders, commodore of the Royal Naval Club and Royal Albert Yacht Club, added: ‘It is absolutely fantastic that the foundation has taken over the watersports centre.

‘These guys will really raise the bar for what the centre can offer to budding sailors and with the success of Sir Ben and the America’s Cup, the demand for sailing will only bring more kids over to the centre.’

The site will now be called the Andrew Simpson Watersports Centre – Portsmouth and will be run as not-for-profit with all proceeds going towards improving the lives of disadvantaged young people.