Sailing stars gather to mark the occasion at the London 2012 Olympic sailing venue

The Andrew Simpson Sailing Centre has been officially opened this morning at the

Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy (WPNSA) in Dorset.

Sailing stars including Sir Ben Ainslie, Iain Percy, Paul Goodison and Olympic windsurfer Bryony Shaw gathered to mark the occasion, along with Andrew’s wife Leah and two sons Freddie and Hamish.

The centre was poignantly opened when Andrew ‘Bart’ Simpson’s eldest son Freddie cut the ribbon.

The Andrew Simpson Sailing Foundation (ASSF), behind the RYA accredited centre, was set up in memory of the Olympic

sailor to inspire the next generation through sailing.

Double Olympic medallist Andrew tragically died in an America’s Cup training accident a year ago today.

ASSF ambassador and Beijing bronze medallist windsurfer Bryony Shaw said: ‘I am

honoured to be asked to attend the launch of the Andrew Simpson Sailing

Foundation in Weymouth. What a great opportunity to inspire the

next generation. We miss you Bart!’

Andrew’s best friend and Olympic Star keelboat class crewmate Iain Percy, a triple Olympic medallist and trustee of the ASSF, said: ‘On behalf of the trustees of the Foundation, we’re really overwhelmed by the turnout today from friends and colleagues who knew Andrew.

‘It was a tough decision to launch the centre on the 9th May, being a year today that we lost the great man, but we felt that is was another great opportunity to celebrate him.

‘Not a time to reflect and be sad, but a chance to continue the great things that he did in his life.’

Based in Andrew’s home county and at the London 2012 Olympic sailing

venue, the new sailing centre will act as

a hub for all ASSF’s activities.

The Andrew Simpson Sailing Centre was today officially launched at the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy (WPNSA), with a poignant introduction by Andrew Simpson’s close friends and Olympic sailing partners, Sir Ben Ainslie and Iain Percy OBE.

Peter Allam, Chief Executive of the WPNSA, said: ‘The Royal Yachting Association accredited centre will provide a focal point to remember Andrew Simpson’s outstanding achievements.

‘Andrew was passionate about inspiring people of all ages to take up sailing and the ASSC represents a tremendous opportunity to help provide a pathway from beginner through to whatever level individuals may aspire to, from recreational sailor to Olympic hopeful.’

Foundation trustee Sir Ben Ainslie said: ‘Today is a very poignant day, but also a really exciting one to be opening the Andrew Simpson Sailing Centre.

‘I would like to say a huge thanks to the Trustees of the Foundation, for all the efforts they have put in over the last 12 months, especially Leah and Iain for their vision and leadership to get us to this point; and all the volunteers that have helped us.

‘We are starting our activity, including subsidising sailing sessions for children, on a local level, but want to partner with clubs from around the country with similar objectives; and ultimately do that on a global scale. It’s fantastic to see what has been achieved in such a short space of time; and I’m sure the great man would be very proud.”  

The Andrew Simpson Sailing Centre will also work closely with

the Chesil Trust and the WPNSA

to deliver the ‘Rod Shipley Sail for a Fiver’ scheme. Now in its 10th

year, the scheme has enabled more than 12,000 Dorset school children to experience sailing on the Olympic waters.

To book a course or to find out more about the centre’s activities, contact Warren Surtees on +44 (0)753 201 6281 or by emailing Warren@andrewsimpsonsailing.org

You can also visit www.andrewsimpsonsailing.org/weymouth to register your interest.