A unique facility for all users of the River Medina in Cowes, Isle of Wight, was inaugurated by the RYA’s International Training Manager, James Stevens, on Friday 26th March. Welcoming guests to the ceremony at the new 11-metre Training Pontoon on the Folly Reach, Cowes Harbour Commissioner, Captain Peter Jackson, explained that every boat owner needed at some stage to acquire essential boat handling skills such as berthing. He explained that during the peak summer months in Cowes this was akin to trying to learn to fly at Heathrow Airport!
Ben Willows, Operations Manager at the UKSA, who contributed to the venture, welcomed the initiative on behalf of the numerous South Coast sailing schools who sometimes struggle to find space for training. David Walters, Chairman of the Cowes Harbour Advisory Committee, commented that the new pontoon would significantly reduce the chance of conflict between river users and occasional damage to moored boats.
James Stevens congratulated Cowes Harbour Commission on providing what he believed to be a unique facility in the world. He went on to say that the RYA very much welcomed the initiative as it encouraged all boat owners to improve their berthing skills and enhance safety by training family and other crew members to handle their boat properly in case of emergency.
Cowes is a favourite destination for many South Coast yachtsmen and in particular the large number of sail training organisations visiting from Poole, Hamble, Portsmouth and further afield. Cowes Harbour Commission has now taken positive steps to ensure that all yachtsmen have somewhere to acquire these essential skills, and that inconvenience and disruption to other river users is minimised.