Whilst the top dinghy sailors in the world are competing in the Skandia Sail for Gold regatta in Weymouth, young kids are learning the ropes in Portland Harbour care of the Sail Laser Sailing School based at the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy.
The centre was set up as a retail outlet to sell boats and to get young kids out on the water, having fun in the latest dinghies. The sailing school caters for young kids to adults but the focus is on getting the young ones out on the water. The instructors set up mini courses and the kids get a real buzz from racing each other on the same waters as the Olympic champions are competing in the Sailing World Cup.
Matt Bridge, principle of the Sail Laser centre explains, "We started in May 2006 and have approximately 500 kids a week from schools in the Dorset area out on the water in the Laser Picos."
"We have a scheme, 'Sail for a Fiver' where for £5 the kids can go out on the water and enjoy the use of the fabulous facilities here at the WPNSA. For those kids who show enthusiasm and want to go further in the sport, we provide a scholarship to develop them and take them to the next stage."
"There is also an 'Onboard Club' which works like a cadet club. For a nominal fee we offer the use of the facilities and equipment for the holiday season."
There are also Rigging Clinics, Talks and Evening Activities provided at the centre. Often some of the Skandia GBR team are out training here and sometimes some of the top Olympic sailors like Olympic and World Laser Champion Paul Goodison will offer a Race Clinic for young sailors who are identified with the skills to develop.
The centre is supported by the local Chessil Trust Charity and has set up an exchange programme with London so that kids from the East London boroughs who sail in the docks, can come down to Weymouth and experience the 2012 Olympic Sailing venue.
Matt is proud to point out that some of his former students have gone on to sail the Laser 4.7 rig and are now competing in the Skandia Sail for Gold regatta this year in the Laser full rig against some of the best Laser sailors in the world including their mentor Paul Goodison.
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