A PASSION for the sea and a passion for their family brought an American brand to the heart of the borough.

It’s a long way to Weymouth from Connecticut, but in 1937 when Paul Sperry designed the first boat shoe based on his dog Prince’s paw, he started the brand he created Sperry Top-Sider on a journey. That journey would find the company 77 years later in the heart of Weymouth.

Now the brand is a leading light in the field of development and design of boat shoes both for professional and lifestyle use.

And they haven’t forgotten their roots and in fact feel so passionate about developing and encouraging the sport that they now boast a sailing team of 30 athletes from seven countries – including nine members of Team GB.

Director of performance marketing Michele Pytko said: “We really feel it’s our responsibility. Paul Sperry invented the first boat shoe 77 years ago. We feel it’s our responsibility to support the sport and the athletes.”

A few years ago Team Sperry had five US sailors in their team for Beijing and now they go into Weymouth’s sailing events with 30 athletes.

Michele said: “We really feel that the team we have built we are so proud to have the athletes as our family.” She added: “Whether or not they do well they are still part of our family.”

The feeling of family and being a part of Weymouth started 20 months ago when the team first visited the town to start planning for the Olympics .

They were originally based at the Bayside Festival but when festival organisers Mainsail went into administration the team were determined to continue their mission to look after their Team Sperry athletes and their families and moved to a yacht in Weymouth harbourside.

Michele said the team really felt at home in the town.

She said: “Our first visit to Weymouth was 20 months ago. We wanted to see and experience what people would be experiencing here this week.”

Karen Pitts Vice president for marketing said that the team started to establish relationships with wholesales in the town and started to spend time with some of the Weymouth and Portland athletes to start to form Team Sperry.

She said that the whole team were very proud of their athletes.

She said: “These are athletes that bring tremendous discipline, and hard work and effort and they are great individuals for the brand and the sport.”

She added that it was great to be able to help and inspire a new generation and that their team were wonderful people.

She added: “We are really proud to be associated with that calibre of individual.”

The brand recently signed as the title sponsor for the US sailing team through to 2016.

They said their journey had been all about introducing the UK to Sperry Top-Sider and supporting their Team Sperry family on its on-going journey and they had been proud to be part of the Olympic experience in Weymouth.

To find out more about Sperry Top-Sider visit tReds at 8-9 Bond Street and W L Bussell and Co at 30 Hope Street, Weymouth.