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Thousands take part in Southampton Sailing Week

by Laura Downton on 5 Jun 24-29 May 2017

Organisers of Southampton's first ever official Sailing Week have heralded the debut event a roaring success.

At least 1,000 people got out on the water during the week, many of whom had never tried sailing before. A further 5,000 people are estimated to have taken part in the week's festivities, which included everything from sailing club open days and coffee mornings to dinghy sailing and an outdoor cinema night.

The highlight of Southampton Sailing Week took the form of a spectacular parade of sail, with more than 100 boats heading en masse down Southampton Water. Leading the way was Sir Robin Knox Johnston in his boat Suhaili, along with a giant Svitzer tug, shooting plumes of water into the sky.

Around 150 schoolchildren got the opportunity to try dinghy sailing during Southampton Sailing Week. Thanks to a collaboration between the event organisers, Park Lives, Active Nation and Southampton Water Activities Centre, a series of taster sessions allowed children who had never sailed before to get out on the water.

Local businesses also got the chance to test their sea legs. The inaugural Business South Champions League was won by Hampshire Chamber of Commerce and the first ever Southampton Property Cup went to Dutton Gregory the following day.

Organiser Chris Rees said the sailing sessions for newcomers embodied the spirit of Southampton Sailing Week: "The whole reason we launched Southampton Sailing Week was to celebrate sailing and allow people from all walks to life to experience the thrill of the sport. Seeing the smiles on the faces of those who raced with us really was rewarding."

Chris added that his team is already looking into running the event again in 2018. "The reception to this year's Southampton Sailing Week has been great so we're very keen to make it a permanent fixture in the sailing calendar," he said. "Southampton really is at the epicentre of sailing so it's only right that the city should have a regular celebration of the sport."

Adrien Burnand, Head of Marketing at MDL Marinas, an official partner of Southampton Sailing Week, added: "The city's inaugural sailing festival was a brilliant success, which saw thousands of people across Southampton get involved. It was fantastic to see our Solent marinas buzzing with activity, both on the water and land, celebrating the spirit of sailing. Festivals like this help to inspire the next generation of sailors and we are committed to showcasing the very best of sport on the water." Cllr Satvir Kaur, Cabinet Member for Communities, Culture and Leisure at Southampton City Council said: "Southampton's first ever Sailing Week was a fantastic success. It was great to see all ages, backgrounds, businesses and schools, coming together to collectively celebrate Southampton's maritime history and identity. Thousands of people took part, and for many of them, this would have been their first experience of taking to the water. I hope this will inspire many more to get involved and take advantage of the amazing facilities that our great city has to offer.

"I'm confident this event will go from strength to strength, with even more opportunities on offer for the people of Southampton to experience the thrill of sailing next year."

Other highlights of Southampton Sailing Week included: The Great Coal Row – organised by the Coalporters Amateur Rowing Association, the event saw people come together and row over three days. An exhibition and BBQ was also held as part of the celebrations.

The Commodores' launch party – the gathering at Royal Southampton Yacht Club kicked off Southampton Sailing Week.

Music in the Marina – MDL's Ocean Village Marina was transformed into an outdoor concert venue as scores of classical musicians and singers performed from the pontoons and waterside.

Chances to explore local sailing clubs and marinas – Royal Southampton Yacht Club, Weston Sailing Club, Southampton Sailing Club and various MDL marinas were among those to host open days.

Keep an eye on www.southamptonsailingweek.co.uk for details of further events.

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