North Devon wins bid for top watersports games

Joseph Bulmer

The Atlantic Watersports Games will come to North Devon — if sponsorship can be raised in time

NORTH Devon has been declared a “dream venue” to host a major watersports event, set to see more than 60,000 spectators descend on the area this summer and a �14 million boost to the economy.

The region has won approval to host the Atlantic Watersports Games following a visit by Francois Arbellot of the Atlantic Waterports International Committee, who gave it his seal of approval.

It was made possible through regeneration agency North Devon Plus and the event is scheduled for July 23-28, but now to make it happen the hunt is on for much needed sponsors to help finance it, alongside funding from the International Committee.

The Games are aimed at competitors aged under 21 and will attract a strong field of national and world champions, with sports likely to be contested including surfing, surf live saving, surf kayaking, kite surfing, sailing, sea kayaking and rowing.

French delegate M Arbellot was in the region on Wednesday and Thursday to visit a number of proposed competition venues and meet local sports clubs and activity providers working with North Devon Plus to make the Games happen.

Venues will be Westward Ho!, Bideford, Saunton, Croyde and Roadford Lake.

After the visit he pronounced North Devon a dream venue and was particularly impressed with the way everyone was willing to work together to make the Games a success.

“The venue is very, very good and I think with the Games we will show that North Devon has very impressive assets for the organisation of watersports events,” he told the Gazette.

“We will welcome young competitors from Spain, Portugal, France and Ireland, who will discover this area and see how important it is for watersports.”

He added that the region “made perfect sense” and had some wonderful surfing venues, with a number of competent people who would help to make the Games a success.

North Devon Plus had been bidding for the event to come here in 2012, but when this year’s venue in Wales was forced to pull out as it was not eligible for European funding, this region was able to benefit.

As a member of the European Watersports Project, North Devon Plus could secure around �100,000 in European funding for the games, but it would still need to find more than �67,000 itself in sponsorship.

“In order for the Games to be successful we need to find sponsors to match fund the money from the International Committee,” said Isabelle Bromham, lead project officer.

“Any private money we do raise will also allow us to potentially draw down matched funding from Sport England.

“This is a great opportunity for businesses in North Devon to gain an international profile and I would urge any business wishing to sponsor the Games to contact me.”

To find out more about sponsorship opportunities contact Isabelle Bromham on (01271) 879018.