Lerwick Boating Club and Lerwick Port Authority have joined forces to upgrade a young Club members' training facility as part of a £650,000 programme of improvements, including a new wall and amenities, at the Small Boat Harbour.

The Club project will provide a larger wooden boat deck for junior sail training, including a new launching ramp to enhance safety for all users. Around 40 young members participate in sailing and rowing organised by the Club which is affiliated to the Royal Yachting Association. The deck is also used by members as a landing facility and boat park for their craft.

Led by the Club, the deck project has attracted grants of £100,000 from a Scottish Government Town Centre Regeneration Fund, with assistance from Shetland Islands Council’s planning department and Lerwick Old Town Development Association; £50,000 from sportscotland, and £10,000 from The Crown Estate towards the cost.

Andrew Anderson, Commodore of Lerwick Boating Club said: “The new boat deck will improve safety for launching and recovery of boats, especially for junior sail training. This, along with the enlarged boat storage and the ability to carry out training on the boat deck, will enhance the Club’s future training plans and the opportunity to attract national and international sailing competitions. It also provides the ability to cater for the ever-increasing size of the local Flying Fifteen class fleet and keeps sailing in the heart of the old town.”

sportscotland Chief Executive, Stewart Harris said: “We are delighted to have worked with Lerwick Boating Club and Lerwick Port Authority on this fantastic project. Along with advice and support at a strategic level, we have also made an award of £50,000 National Lottery funding from our Sports Facilities Fund. The upgrades to the training facility will be hugely beneficial to the Club, and will allow them to continue to develop their exciting junior programme.”

The Port Authority will build and own the deck as part of the wider improvement programme and lease it to the Club at a non-commercial rental.

The programme also includes the second phase of replacing the Small Boat Harbour’s 100 metre-plus wall, which has reached the end of its structural life after around a century, along with a walkway doubled in width and the introduction of seating and new railings. Work is now underway and will be carried out by local firm, Tulloch Developments, who last winter completed a similar, £150,000 first phase, which also included installation of flag poles.

The total cost of the latest improvements to the wall, its surroundings and the boat deck is over £500,000. Completion of the main part of the seawall is scheduled for later this year and the boat deck, which will also be constructed by Tulloch Developments, for early summer, 2011.

Port Authority Chief Executive, Sandra Laurenson, commented: “The overall programme will bring a range of benefits, from a fit-for-purpose, replacement wall protecting the shore to improved training facilities, safety, amenities and access.

“Rather than simply replacing the structure with a functional wall, we recognised its popularity with the public as a walk and sitting area and decided to improve its attractiveness. It will also be an excellent vantage point when the Tall Ships Races return in July next year.”

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