ABP founds sailing academy for Southampton children

March 27, 2014

Image: SWAC youngsters celebrate with Sir Ben Ainslie and David Leighton from ABP

Hundreds of young people from inner-city Southampton are going to get a taste of life on the water, thanks to a new sailing academy created by the Port of Southampton.

ABP has donated £10,000 to Southampton Water Activities Centre (SWAC), managed by the sport and exercise charity Active Nation, to fund sailing taster sessions for 8-16 year-olds at schools in the heart of the city.

Those children who want to go on to develop their skills will be invited to join the new ABP Southampton Sailing Academy and experience a variety of boating and water sports.

The new academy is a legacy of the £100m investment by ABP to create a new 500m container-handling berth at Southampton. The facility was opened by Britain's greatest ever Olympic sailor, Sir Ben Ainslie, earlier this week. The four times gold medal winner also launched the new sailing academy, with enthusiastic youngsters from SWAC.

As well as dinghy racing, SWAC organisers are planning a host of other experiences for academy members, including sailing to France and linking up with ABP's Town Quay Marina. The city centre marina will host events for the academy as part of ABP's on-going commitment to the project.

Based at Floating Bridge Road in Southampton, SWAC specialises in getting young people active on the water.

Jon Kirby, SWAC Programme Manager, said: "This will make a real difference to the lives of many local children and hopefully produce the next Ben Ainslie.

"We used to work with inner city children but the funding dried up, so we are delighted that, thanks to ABP's generosity, we can start to get local youngsters active on the water near their homes again.

"It is a fantastic experience for them. It's a taste of the freedom sailing offers and a chance to learn teamwork, communication skills and self-reliance."

ABP Director, Southampton, Nick Ridehalgh said: "The port is not just a key driver of the economy in the city and the region but a key player in the community as well. We have invested heavily in the future of our business here and we want to invest in our community as well.

"Southampton Water is famed worldwide as a leisure marine destination. For many local youngsters it is a case of so near but just out of reach. This new academy will allow Southampton children to enjoy sailing on Southampton Water and we are proud to be able to make that happen."