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£3million Olympic cash boost for sailing events

PUBLISHED: 11:51 18 February 2010 | UPDATED: 17:37 25 August 2010

THE finishing touches are being made to a £3million sailing centre that will rank among the best on the Thames and inspire a younger generation of future Olympians.

THE finishing touches are being made to a £3million sailing centre that will rank among the best on the Thames and inspire a younger generation of future Olympians.

Erith Yacht Club has benefited from a major cash injection to build a new clubhouse and two large storage and workshop facilities.

Funded through Sport England and the London Development Agency, it is expected to attract the best coaches and top sailing talent.

Set for completion in early spring, the new clubhouse commands an impressive view over the Thames on 8ft stilts, featuring class rooms, changing rooms with showers, a kitchen, bar, veranda and a lift for disabled access.

One new storage facility contains a mezzanine floor to house the club's fleet of dinghies, the other contains a workshop to service a fleet of over 20 yachts ranging from traditional wooden craft to the latest high-tech craft built for outright speed.

Club member Sara Turner said: "When it opens we are going to have the best sailing facilities on the Thames.

"We are keen to pull in potential Olympians into the sport. There are already very talented sailors from other centres coming here which will help bring on our members with their expertise. That leads to healthy competition and raised standards."

Part of the deal includes a full-time coach, funded mostly through the Royal Yachting Association for the next three years. The government has deemed the club to be in an area of sporting deprivation, enabling it to tap into numerous funding streams to transform its offer.

Mrs Turner, a veteran of the club for over 35 years, said: "You don't get a whole new building for nothing. We have to increase our courses and bring in new members, which will ultimately pay towards the investment.

"It will be a challenging switch to a full-on commercial venture but its success will in part be down to new members getting involved in the running of the club."

The site has been catapulted into the top flight from humble beginnings decades ago, when the clubhouse was a dilapidated former light house ship - Garcon 2 - that was prone to sinking on a regular basis.

Their home for the last 20 years has been the former Norwegian car ferry, Folgefonn, but is to be taken out of service when it returns home next week.

For more information visit www.erithyachtclub.org.uk.


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