OVER the last seven weeks, to coincide with the Olympic Torch Relay, a replica 1948 Torch has made a unique journey in the hands of sailors and boaters of all ages.
It has travelled across 80 miles of sea from Torquay all the way to the London 2012 Sailing venue as part of the RYA’s 1948 Sailing Relay and has been celebrated by clubs along the route.
On Tuesday, the Torch was officially gifted from Torbay Council to the Weymouth & Portland National Sailing Academy (WPNSA) and was presented to WPNSA chairman Edward Leask by the Mayor of Torbay, Gordon Oliver.
“It’s a great honour to have the 1948 Torch here at the academy and to have it presented to us by Torbay Council,” said WPNSA chief executive John Tweed.
“We are delighted to have it here and hope to display it alongside a 2012 Torch permanently in the Academy.”
Tony Wood, RYA regional development officer, who has been instrumental in organising the event, said: “It’s fantastic to be able to officially mark the end of this unique journey.
“Clubs have been holding the most amazing celebrations and people of all ages have been supporting the relay and sailing alongside the Torch as it travelled from venue to venue.
“We really are delighted to have been able to use this opportunity to inspire so many people about sailing and the Games and celebrate our Olympic sailing heritage.”
The relay began on May 20 when it was sailed off the beach in Torbay, which was the venue of the 1948 Olympic sailing events.
During Jubilee weekend, hundreds of people passed the Torch along Topsham’s ‘long table’ which stretched right around the village.
In Exmouth people came out in force to witness a spectacular send off when the Torch was relayed by dozens of adults and children to a waiting cruiser and pupils at Sidmouth College took part in their own mini torch relay at school.
Oliver said: “This is a very historic occasion for Weymouth and Portland, and Torbay. It brings together the spirit of past Olympics with inspiration for the 2012 Games and beyond.
“The connection with our replica Torch and the hosting of the 2012 sailing events here at WPNSA is fantastic for the sport, young people and this country.”
Along with the 1948 Torch, a hand drawn map of the original Torch route by local artist Brian Wright was also presented.
The Mayor of Weymouth and Portland and the Mayor of Portland were also present for the celebrations.
The 1948 Sailing Relay Torch visited the Royal Torbay Yacht Club, Paignton Sailing Club, Brixham Yacht Club, Babbacombe Sailing Club, SeaSports SW, Teignmouth Corinthian Yacht Club, Starcross Yacht Club, Topsham Sailing Club, Lympstone Sailing Club, Exmouth Sailing Club, Sidmouth Sailing Club, Beer Sailing Club, Axe Yacht Club, Lyme Regis Sailing Club, Castle Cove Sailing Club, Weymouth Sailing Club, Osprey Training Centre and SailLaser.
The latter kindly laid on a team day for the Dorset Echo, which involved collecting the 1948 Torch and returning it to the WPNSA, where it will be displayed alongside the London 2012 version.
The 1948 relay is part of the nationwide initiative Sail for Gold, which aims to bring the excitement of London 2012 as close to home as possible for everyone, no matter where they live.
For more information visit rya.org.uk/sailforgold