Pinsent and Redgrave open Caversham
Sir Matthew Pinsent said it was a “pretty magical moment” when the Redgrave Pinsent Rowing Lake and Sherriff Boathouse were opened today at Caversham, near Reading.
“Steve and I trained in lots of different places and they all had their attributes but none of them were home to British Rowing”,said the four-times Olympic gold medalist as he stood alongside his five-gold former rowing partner Sir Steve Redgrave. “With 2012 around the corner rowing now has an aspiration which is second to none”.
Sir Steve thanked all those involved in the project which had taken several years to come to fruition. “I’d like to thank Sport England, The Caversham Lakes Trust, the ARA’s Di Ellis, David Tanner and Brian Armstrong but most of all David Sherriff who had the original foresight and vision as well as the determination to see the project through as well as everyone else involved”, he said.
The Redgrave Pinsent Rowing Lake has been developed by the Caversham Lakes Trust Ltd, in partnership with David Sherriff, Sport England and the Amateur Rowing Association. It provides the South East with a world class training venue for future British Olympic rowers and is situated within a short distance of Eton College, Dorney Lake, the chosen host venue for rowing at London 2012.
Steve and Matthew were joined by Stephen Baddeley, Acting Chief Executive of Sport England, Di Ellis CBE Chairman of the Amateur Rowing Association and David Sherriff, the benefactor of the site.
Stephen Baddeley, Interim Chief Executive of Sport England said: “The vision of Sport England is to combine activity and success. Rowing is a tremendous example of the link between participation and success. The ARA are a model governing body”.
Di Ellis CBE, Chairman of the Amateur Rowing Association said: “This facility provides a legacy for the future of British rowing. We are all very proud to be associated with a site which will make such a difference to the development of high performance rowing in this country.”
The vision for the 2000m rowing course in Caversham came from Sherriff, who spent over 25 years positioning the project. His strategy was to buy up small parcels of land and relocate his 300 berth marina to make way for a rowing centre, as well as securing extensive planning permission. This has meant Sherriff contributed a more than generous seven-figure sum towards the project. It has provided the perfect training facilities for Britain’s future Olympic rowing squads, together with Oxford University Boat Race crews.
David Sherriff said: “I have wanted to create an Olympic size rowing course to help British mens and womens rowers since I first saw the Lake. We will also be improving the environment for local wildlife.”
The lake has been leased to the Amateur Rowing Association as a high level training venue. Around 50 world class rowers are expected to use the site on a daily basis between October and July. All athletes will have access to professional coaches and medical staff.
Many of those rowers including Steve Williams, Katherine Grainger, Sarah Winckless, and Fran Houghton were training on the lake today before the official opening.
“They all seem very pleased with the facility”, said Pinsent who professed himself
glad that he wasn’t out training with them.