University Sailing Club secures £5,000 funding to advance their skills

Members of the University of Portsmouth Sailing Club recently completed an 8-week ‘Learn to Sail’ course at a subsidised cost, thanks to a £5,000 funding grant provided by the Royal Yachting Association and Energise Me.

The Department of Sport and Recreation and Portsmouth Watersports Centre collaborated together to secure the funding for the sailing club.
The funding contributed to creating a Satellite Club, to teach Level 1 and 2 Dinghy Sailing for 20 University of Portsmouth students.
Participants are now qualified enough to be self-sufficient on the water, enabling them to independently hire sailing dinghies in the future.

Stage One – Learn to Sail

The grant helped to fund a new project and partnership that would be spent over two stages. Stage One, costing £4,000, funded the creation of a satellite club; an extension of the University of Portsmouth Sailing Club to use a new venue in which to operate from. The University of Portsmouth and Portsmouth Watersports Centre worked collaboratively to form the satellite club, to offer discounted ‘Learn to Sail’ sessions. Portsmouth Watersports Centre provided qualified instructors for the sessions, which all participants praised as having excellent knowledge and expertise.

The grant paid for 20 students to take a Royal Yachting Association Level 1 and 2 Dinghy Sailing course over 8 weeks of weekly lessons. Completing the course qualified the students to independently hire and sail a dinghy should they wish to in the future. The funding was a welcome contribution, which helped to heavily subsudise the costs for all students involved. Without the funding, the first stage of this project would cost £7,600 – the investment of £4,000 helped make a huge difference in affordability. The funding subsidised the cost of the course to only £40 per participant, with 93% stating they were extremely satisfied with the cost.




Currently in her 7th year studying a PHD in French History, Sailing Club Commodore Kelsey Suggitt, expressed how this funding had provided an amazing opportunity for the club members:

“It’s going to have a huge impact for the club – it already has. Our (current) facilities don’t enable beginners to go sailing each week. This funding means that brand new sailors are out on the water straight away. Normally, we can only have six people out sailing at one time. It’s also encouraged a lot of the beginner sailors to get more involved in the club, and non-club members,  so there is potential for more members next year. Straight away, in September, we’ve got 20 people who can join the sailing club and just go sailing whenever they want. It’s also established a great partnership with Portsmouth Watersports Centre as well.”

Earlier in the academic year, the sailing club gained 60 new members, all expressing an interest in learning to sail. The club ran three taster sessions with all new members getting involved, but Kelsey recognised there was a demand for more ‘Learn to Sail’ sessions. Before submitting the application for the funding grant, Kelsey carried out a survey with members of the club to establish interest. Her call out received a positive response, with 16 members replying in a matter of hours all expressing an interest in earning their Level 1 or 2 in Dinghy Sailing.

With support from University of Portsmouth, and Portsmouth Watersports Centre, the application was submitted for funding from the Royal Yachting Association and Energise Me. When the funding was granted and spaces made available, the opportunity proved popular as it reached capacity in a matter of days – 20 participants in total, with half experiencing sailing for the first time.

At the end of Stage One, 79% of participants expressed they would like to continue sailing on a weekly basis. Rochelle, a participant in Stage One of the project and a first-time sailor, expressed her enjoyment of the sessions: “I love to try new skills and never thought I’d have the opportunity to go sailing, let alone be able to sail myself. It was quite scary at first but once you get used to it, it’s fun! I may use these skills in the near future as some of my friends have sailing qualifications, so now we can go sailing together!”




Stage Two – Pay & Play

With Stage One complete, the project will now move onto the second stage over the summer months. The remaining funding of £1,000, plus funds raised in Stage One, will contribute to ‘Pay & Play’ sessions at Portsmouth Watersports Centre. All students who took part in the first stage of the project will be able to hire sailing dinghies at a heavily reduced cost. The discounted rates are also available to other students at the University of Portsmouth, who already have a Level 2 qualification in dinghy sailing.

Hiring a sailing dinghy would normally cost £25, but the funding will allow qualified students to access the dinghies for just £5. After the funding runs out, Portsmouth Watersports Centre will continue to offer a discounted rate for University of Portsmouth students, by keeping the costs low at £10 per boat. Along with the dingy hire, Porstmouth Watersports Centre will also provide an instructor for the ‘Pay & Play’ sessions to offer tips and advice on water safety.

This project has improved the partnership between Portsmouth Watersports Centre and the University of Portsmouth. Assistant Manager and Chief Instructor at Portsmouth Watersports Centre, Jake Biggs, expressed how this project will help further the partnership and be beneficial to all involved, including students:

“Our relationship (with the University) has grown over the last few years, and the more we can offer to the University, the better. We’re on the south coast – it just seems crazy if we don’t have any relationship! If we can grow that relationship in many different ways, we’re willing to do as much as we can.

We’d like to grow our relationship with (the University Sailing Club) because currently they are based in the city at Portsmouth Sailing club. It would be great to start providing them with trained sailors. A lot of these guys have never set foot in a boat before. After they’ve trained with us, they will have the knowledge to go into the Portsmouth Sailing Club crew and get experience within the racing boats. They might get to progress even further and start racing themselves.”




Portsmouth Watersports Centre is based in Langstone Harbour on the eastern side of the island. Their unique facilities host a wide range of activities such as sailing, windsurfing, stand-up paddle boarding and more. Portsmouth Watersports Centre are also a partner facility for Sport and Recreation. As part of our Get Active, Stay Active programme, they offer discounted access to watersports for students and staff at the University of Portsmouth.


[calltoaction button_text=”Contact” button_link=”” full_width=”yes or no”] Want to Sail?

Are you a Level 2 Qualified Dinghy Sailor at the University of Portsmouth? Take part in Stage Two of this project and hire a sailing dinghy for just £5! To book, or for more information, please contact Portsmouth Watersports Centre.[/calltoaction]

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