John Tweed, Chief Executive of Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy , shares his thoughts on the Olympic sailing events held on our beautiful World Heritage Coast and looks ahead to Team GB’s Paralympians taking up the sails in Weymouth & Portland in two weeks’ time.
As the dust settles on what many have described as ‘the best Games ever’ and the five Olympic rings are replaced by the Paralympic ‘Agitos’ symbols, it seems like a good time to reflect on the Olympic Sailing events held at Weymouth and Portland.
The proud Aussies bagged three Sailing Golds and a Silver, making them the toast Down Under, after a relatively subdued performance from the rest of Team Australia. The haul for Team GB, at one Gold and four Silvers, was again remarkable when a maximum of 10 Gold medals were up for grabs and there were 63 nations competing for them.And of course Ben Ainslie dug deep into his inner resources to become the greatest Olympic sailor of all time when he achieved his fourth Gold medal at successive Games – something that was looking out of reach after the first few races.
We now look forward to the Paralympics where the Team GB sailors look very strong in each of the three classes going into the Game sand where we have previously not achieved medals. The Paralympic sailing events will all take place within the Portland Harbour breakwater and there will be great close racing to be seen when they begin on 1 September.
Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy has had the benefit of £7 million worth of investment specifically for the Olympic and Paralympic Games – we were the first of the 2012 venues finished (in 2008) and we have already been enjoying the ‘legacy’ that those facilities have brought, both in our elite events and with our community sailing, such as the ever popular ‘Sail for £5’ scheme for schoolchildren.
We are determined that the successes of 2012 will not be a ‘one off’ and we intend to attract major international sailing events to the area in the future. We have proved the concept of ‘Arena Sailing’ in Weymouth Bay in close proximity to the shore and introduced a whole generation of new spectators to something that has traditionally not been regarded as a ‘spectator sport’.
So, please do take a keen interest in the remarkable people who will be representing Team GB in the Paralympic sailing, but also watch this space.’ We’re planning some future major spectator opportunities for World Class sailing against the stunning backdrop of our incredible World Heritage Coast, and we’d love you to join us.