Cracknell Boosts Taunton Plan for Watersports Centre

Olympic gold medallist James Cracknell is backing a new watersports centre on the River Tone, which is set to provide more rowing opportunities for the people of Taunton and Somerset.

Following a miserable winter of rain and flooding across the Somerset Levels, Cracknell led a group of dedicated rowers, canoeists, stand up paddleboarders, cyclists and archers at the end of March to add his support to the proposed Centre for Outdoor Activity and Community Hub (COACH), located at French Weir in Taunton.

The £600,000 development will allow more people in Taunton to have a go at rowing, canoeing, kayaking and more, as well as providing hugely improved facilities for Taunton Rowing Club.

COACH is an organisation, aspiring to charitable status, which is drawing together a wide range of community, sports, education and youth groups to provide a hub in the centre of Taunton for a range of activities of social benefit that is open to all. 

The vision of the founders of COACH is to:

  • encourage an active lifestyle and community participation
  • open up the River Tone and its environment for community sports
  • encourage young people to participate in a wide range of outdoor/sporting and community activities
  • promote sporting excellence
  • provide a conduit to affiliated sports clubs
  • add a community dimension to Taunton’s town centre regeneration programme

The COACH project has grown from a partnership between Taunton Dean Borough Council, Project Taunton and a group of sports, youth and community groups. These groups include representation from the County Sports Partnership, Somerset College, Taunton RC and the local residents associations bordering the project.

For more information about the project, visit To find out what happened when James Cracknell visited the River Tone to promote the project, visit