Sailing into the Future - The Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy

The first-class London 2012 Olympic sailing venue - The Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy - is creating an impressive legacy for locals as well as being one of the UK's premier sailing destinations

The first-class London 2012 Olympic sailing venue - The Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy - is creating an impressive legacy for locals as well as being one of the UK's premier sailing destinations

The Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy (WPNSA) was formed in 1999 as a not-for-profit company by a group of far-sighted individuals who identified the opportunities created by the closure of the Royal Naval Air Station at Portland. This was a 'brownfield' site with immediate water access into Portland Harbour and Weymouth Bay and was potentially a huge asset to the local Weymouth and Portland communities.

The venue has already provided training facilities for the 2008 Games medal-winning heroes, and is the first London 2012 venue to be completed, over three years ahead of schedule and in budget with an active, sustainable legacy programme. The combination of clean winds, sheltered waters and weak tides in the area is unique and this new world-class facility set in the centre of the Jurassic Coast, the only Natural World Heritage Site on the UK mainland, provides an unrivalled venue for training/sailing.

The Academy is already making a significant contribution to the economy of the area with Dorset County Council calculating that, annually, over �10 million is being generated in the local economy, along with more than 180 full-time equivalent jobs.

The Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy Team understand that nature formed the foundations for this perfect sport event amphitheatre. There is a strong emphasis on environmental protection demonstrated by the Academy winning the 2008 Sport Industry Award for 'Environmental Concern in Sport'.


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The WPNSA was developed to take advantage of what are recognised as some of the best small-boat sailing waters on the planet and has an established global reputation for its outstanding facilities.

Development of the Academy has provided internationally recognised first-class facilities including 220 metres of slipway accessible at all states of wind and tide, dinghy parking for 300 dinghies, 125 protected marina berths for ribs/yachts, and two new cranes.

The Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy incorporates significant shoreside facilities which include: VIP meeting rooms; fully licensed lounge bar with balcony and uninterrupted views over the harbour and bay; large bar and carvery; cafeteria; six lecture/meeting rooms; an event hall suitable for measuring sails/dinghies, indoor training/sports and large functions/weddings; a first aid/medical suite; male and female disabled changing rooms and showers; large briefing/lecture room; and a gymnasium.

In addition to sailing events, the Academy is ideally suited to hosting many water-based events including: sea swimming and rowing; canoeing and sea kayaking; motor boating; sport fishing; model boating; water skiing and wake boarding. In fact, a range of land-based events from running, cycling or indoor rowing, and combined events such as triathlons can be run from the centre.

The Academy is lucky in the ongoing support offered by Scottish and Southern Energy and Charles Russell LLP law, who also appreciate the continually expanding world of opportunities for this unique sporting venue.

The Legacy

WPNSA effectively promotes the sport of sailing to all levels of competence and ability, through courses, training and events, whilst supporting and working closely with the local community. An active, sustainable legacy programme founded by the late Chairman, Bill Ludlow, is run in partnership with The Chesil Trust and provides a strong future for the Academy.

One element of this legacy programme - 'Sail for �5' - enables local children and young people to enjoy half a day of sailing tuition for �5. The aim, following on from 'Sail for �5', is to provide a pathway into sport, and children who show an aptitude/passion for sailing from their afternoon's tuition can be provided with additional support to facilitate their completion of RYA Level 1 & 2. These qualifications will enable the child to sail a dinghy on their own, and will equip them to join the Community Sailing Club run at the Academy.

By providing access to training facilities for sailing and seamanship, The Chesil Trust works with young people at risk of involvement in drugs, alcohol, crime or exclusion from school, offering them new skills in teamwork and leadership, diverting them to more constructive life and employment paths. WPNSA and The Chesil Trust work with Dorset's schools to identify children and young people who would benefit from this form of training. The courses enable the young people to develop practical skills and responsibility, leading to greater social integration, engagement and entrepreneurship. This experience of sailing also provides the opportunity to build upon self-confidence, self-esteem, knowledge of the natural environment and, in the past, has been a life-changing experience not just for the child but for the whole family.

Since the inception of 'Sail for �5' in 2007 over 3,500 people have been able to experience sailing for the first time. Many of these people went on to further develop their skills in the certificated RYA Level 1 & 2 continuation courses. The Trust has also assisted seven talented young sailors who have gone on to win major competitions, including three Gold medals at the World Youth Sailing Championships. One of these young sailors has now joined the Team GBR Olympic Development Squad.

For further details visit the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy website at For more on The Chesil Trust visit

Royal Visit

Her Majesty the Queen, accompanied by His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh, visited the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy (WPNSA) in June. The Royal Party met Olympic sailors and hopefuls in training, as well as local people who are learning to sail as part of the WPNSA's programme with the Chesil Trust. The visit enabled the royal party to get a real flavour of how important this facility is for

the whole community.

This 49er championship was just one of many sailing events run successfully by the WPNSA

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