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Olympic sailing champion Ben Ainsley has helped launch a sailing academy in Southampton, which aims to attract young inner-city children to take part in the sport.

The new ABP Southampton Sailing Academy was is being funded by Associated British Ports (ABP), which has invested £100m in building a new 500m container-handling pert at Southampton Port.

The academy is part of ABP's legacy plans for the container port and will be based at the Southampton Water Activities Centre (SWAC).

SWAC is operated by Active Nation – a charity which runs 17 leisure venues on behalf of local authorities.

As well as dinghy racing and sailing lessons, the academy will host sailing trips to France and link up with ABP's Town Quay Marina. The city centre marina will also host events for the academy, as part of ABP's on-going commitment to the project.

Jon Kirby, SWAC programme manager, said: "This will make a real difference to the lives of many local children and hopefully produce the next Ben Ainslie.

"It will offer fantastic experiences for inner city children. They will have the opportunity to taste the freedom sailing offers and a chance to learn teamwork, communication skills and self-reliance."

• According to the 2013 Watersports Survey, participation in boating and sailing activities is at its highest since 2007, with 3.5 million people taking part in boating activities.

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Olympic sailing champion Ben Ainsley has helped launch a sailing academy in Southampton, which aims to attract young inner-city children to take part in the sport.


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