Fantastic four head out to sea on SailLaser scholarship

Dorset Echo: FUN ON THE WATER: Kerry Knight (front) from SailLaser with Wyvern School pupils Geoffrey Mott, Kerry Phillips, Kira Friend and Joseph Holloway FUN ON THE WATER: Kerry Knight (front) from SailLaser with Wyvern School pupils Geoffrey Mott, Kerry Phillips, Kira Friend and Joseph Holloway

FOUR teenagers from Wyvern School in Weymouth have caught the Sailing bug and dream of getting out on the water every day.

Students Kerry Phillips, Kira Friend, Joseph Holloway and Geoffrey Mott, all aged 15, have embarked on a six-week scholarship programme with SailLaser Weymouth sailing centre, based at the Olympic and Paralympic sailing venue.

The youngsters experienced a taste of the sport during the special school’s Splash festival in May and their enthusiasm has propelled them into weekly sailing sessions.

Kerry Knight, sailing school administrator for SailLaser Weymouth, said: “They did a sailing taster session during the week-long Splash Olympic-themed festival.

“They really enjoyed it and I thought it would be a shame for it to end there really.

“We get help with funding for disabled sailing from the Weymouth & Portland National Sailing Academy so I put together a six-week scholarship programme for four Wyvern pupils – they don’t have to pay a thing.”

She added: “They’re working towards their RYA stage one dinghy sailing course but we’re not putting a lot of pressure on them as it’s quite difficult and a few of them have severe learning disabilities – whatever they achieve is an achievement.

“It’s going brilliantly, they’re lovely kids and every day they ask their teacher ‘is it a sailing day today?’ “They’re all enjoying the whole Olympic experience, they like being around all the top sailors and thought it was great when they bumped into Ben Ainslie.”

This week the youngsters took to the water of Portland Harbour for their second Wednesday morning sailing session.

Their teacher and school Olympic champion Ann Piggott said: “We held our first Splash festival and it’s really a result of that.

“These four students showed a flair for sailing and it was felt they would benefit most from the scholarship and might be able to get an award at the end of it.

“They’re having a fabulous time, they ask me every day if they can go sailing.”

She added: “They’re gaining confidence, learning new vocabulary and team skills – it’s very much creative learning.

“Everybody gets a buzz from being over at the sailing academy, it’s very exciting to see all the people from different nationalities.”

SailLaser Weymouth will hold its last session at the Olympic venue at Osprey Quay on July 11 and relocate to Ferrybridge Marine for the duration of the Olympic and Paralympic sailing events, where its normal work will continue.

It will return to the academy on September 15.

A couple of instructors from SailLaser will be based on Weymouth Beach during the Olympics as part of the interactive sports arena offering taster sessions.

To find out more, call 0845 3373 214 or visit sail-laser.com/weymouth

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