Portland is a destination for Marine Excellence

Marine Excellence

Marine Excellence

Weymouth and Portland – A Destination for Marine Excellence

Today, 7 January 2011, the London Boat Show provided the ideal location for respected speakers to provide an education on new developments in big boat racing and cruising opportunities in Weymouth and Portland.  The press were invited to a Q&A session with key speakers Simon Williams, General Manager of Regeneration and Sustainability at the Weymouth and Portland Borough Council, John Tweed, Chief Executive at the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy (WPNSA) and Charlie Walker, Managing Director of the Round Britain and Ireland Challenge and Vendée Globe Sailor Steve White.  A number of private and public sector agencies in Dorset are working together to provide the best quality marine leisure opportunities for the UK and visitors from overseas and these speakers talked through what they have achieved and what they are planning long term to ensure Weymouth and Portland continues to attract interest from the marine sector globally.   

With the hosting of the sailing events for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, Weymouth and Portland is progressively establishing itself as a Destination for Marine Excellence in the South West.  The sailing events for the 2012 Games are allied to the marine enterprise expansion through significant investment at Osprey Quay and local infrastructure development have put Weymouth and Portland firmly on the international map for marine events and activities, but the session looked at how Weymouth and Portland can create a legacy beyond 2012. 

“The Games is a once in a lifetime opportunity for Weymouth and Portland but the long term opportunities it provides to promote the World Heritage Coast as the perfect cruising and racing venue which sailors have been enjoying for generations is priceless,” added  Simon Williams, General Manager of Regeneration and Sustainability at the Weymouth and Portland Borough Council.  “The World Heritage Coast of Dorset is the ultimate iconic backdrop for both racing and cruising and is ideal if you are local to the UK or from further afar.  The berthing and marine facilities are of a superb quality with direct access to Weymouth Bay and the more challenging elements of the English Channel.”

The Academy has already hosted many big boat events including the Farr 45 National Championships for consecutive years and they are officially the location for the Artemis Offshore Academy which uses the WPNSA facilities for their UK excellence training programme.  Starting this February they will also have the Round Britain and Ireland Challenge Series using the venue as a base for training and then racing from April onwards, including events for the very popular J109 and Sigma 38 classes.

The multi-purpose venue provides the perfect amenities to host such events as it has direct access to the deep waters of Weymouth Bay and into the English Channel within minutes of leaving the sheltered new 125 berth mini marina that is part of the state of the art 2012 sailing venue facilities.  Steve White, Vendée Globe Sailor, comments on why he keeps his Open 60 in Portland Marina adjacent to the Academy, “I’m within minutes of open water in the harbour and 15 minutes from the English Channel which makes it excellent for big boats that need a lot of water.  For me it’s a no brainer.” 

On top of the fantastic infrastructure there are new hotels and other developments taking place and the Academy is now ready to host some very major events.  Their facilities, together with those of the Portland Marina, give the opportunity to host fantastic sailing events for the larger boats in an ideal sailing environment. 

The new partnership between the Academy and the Round Britain and Ireland Challenge is a very positive step for Weymouth and Portland and is an example of the bigger boat events now discovering the benefits of the area.  When asked why the WPNSA was the choice venue, Charlie Walker, Managing Director at the Round the Britain and Ireland Series, replied, “We have partnered with the WPNSA as it places us at the heart of the sailing world in the run up to 2012, our customers will benefit from the use of the award winning world class facilities.  We will be running all training from the Academy starting in February as well as it being the start and finish venue for all Challenges.”

One of the benefits will be the fleet of Dehler Varianta 44s which have been designed and built for this particular challenge with the view to long term charter work in Weymouth Bay.  John Tweed, Chief Executive at the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy, highlighted another advantage, “Sailors and non sailors alike can take part in a leg of the RBIC which parallels nicely with the Academy’s totally inclusive approach to sailing so that if you are a person new to sailing, venturing on the water for the first time, up to an Olympic or budding round the World sailor, this is the venue for you.”

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