A SAILING scheme supporting sailors with disabilities has been kickstarted with a cash boost from the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy.

After nine successful years of project ‘Sail for a Fiver’, which is funded by the Chesil Trust and has introduced over 10,000 children to sailing, the programme has now been extended to offer water sport opportunities to those with disabilities with the introduction of the ‘Chesil Sailability’ group.

The academy, which was the venue for sailing at the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic games, is hosting the new programme and has facilitated funding with a donation on Monday of £1,500 for the new 2013 set up.

John Tweed, chief executive of the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy said: “The original Sail for a Fiver programme now supports 1,600 children a year and I am delighted that the opportunities for those people with disabilities is moving to a new level through the Chesil Sailability group.”

In addition, facilities at the academy have been awarded a ‘Distinction Award’ from the International Paralympic Committee for the accessibility of the venue.

Mr Tweed added: “Having witnessed children with special needs try sailing for the first time ever at the academy during the spring, I know that there is incredible value in opening up this opportunity for much wider participation.

“The on water experience will offer a whole new world to those with disabilities and much joy for years to come.”

He said the academy offers not only Paralympic legacy facilities but also the scope for the venue to develop as the national hub for people with disabilities to try sailing and advance to racing qualifications.

Hugh de Iongh, chairman of Chesil Sailability, is looking forward to using the facilities at WPNSA. He added: “Support from the sailing academy is the key to our success and we are excited at the opportunity to introduce people with disabilities to sailing in Portland Harbour.”

For more information about the scheme, contact the academy on 01305 866000.