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Countdown to 2012 in Dorset
Weymouth & Portland Sailing Academy
Weymouth & Portland's Olympic venue
By James Tiller
The National Sailing Academy at Weymouth & Portland promises to be the first venue ready for the 2012 Olympic Games. BBC Dorset paid a visit to see how and why.
Cast your mind back to 6 July 2005: the huge celebrations at Trafalgar Square and, closer to home, an enormous party in Weymouth and Portland.
Now the celebrations are over, work has started at the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy in preparation for the sailing events of the 2012 Olympic Games.
Construction began on the Academy in 2003 and it opened in June 2005. After the Olympic announcement, the second phase kicked into action.
The second phase of development will include a 350-boat park, expansion slipways to bring them up to the Olympic requirement of 150m, and a mini-marina in Weymouth Bay.
It should be ready by early 2009, making it one of the first of the Olympic venues to be completed.
John Tweed, Development Director of the Academy explains the need for expansion: "The existing slipways are from the former Naval site, and they have been great for us up till now."
"But we must improve how we get boats to and from the water. To do that there will be considerable reclamation to improve what we have and bring it to the required standard."
Free to watch
As well as having state-of-the-art sailing facilities, the Academy is thinking about the environment too.
Says John: "We are already generating between 15 to 20% of our own electricity from solar cells. We also collect the water from the roof to wash boats. We're doing what we can to make sure we are as environmentally friendly as possible."
James Tiller interviews Mark Stubbings
The Olympic sailing events will be free for spectators and the Academy's Chief Executive Mark Stubbings believes it will attract many people to the sport.
He says, "There are plans for there to be big screens on the beach and in Weymouth itself, so people can watch while enjoying an ice-cream.
"People will want to be part of the Olympic family and is what we are trying to do here. We already have strong links with local schools and want to involve as many people in sailing as possible.
"We want to involve children and young people in the hope that one day maybe they will become Olympic champions of the future," says Mark.
Mark is keen to keep a level head about the Academy's future. "This area will of course be boosted by the Games but the main challenge is to make sure that the investments continue after 2012."
"We are a business and we need to generate revenue after everything is over, but this is a huge opportunity and will be of great benefit to Weymouth and Portland."
The future look for Osprey Quay
The sailing events for the Olympics are scheduled to take place 28 July to 11 August 2012. Is Mark worried about the British weather?
"The weather will be fantastic!" he enthuses, "One of the reasons Weymouth was chosen to host the events was that we tend to get very good summer winds.
"Weymouth is often referred to as 'windy Weymouth' by many people in the sailing fraternity. It is very rare that you come here and have a light wind regatta, so I guess it's just fingers crossed really!"
After the Games
After the Games are over the venue will remain in use at the highest levels of international sailing.
Mark explains: "We will continue to have the best sailing facilities in the northern hemisphere after the games and there will be an awful lot going on here after they are over to ensure that we continue to have an exciting and prosperous future after 2012."
There will be a great chance for spectators to witness the venue at first hand on 19 September when it will be hosting the Sailing for Gold regatta which will feature sailors from around the world.
last updated: 17/04/2008 at 13:33