Sponsors splash out for games

Joseph Bulmer

BUSINESSES and organisations have come up trumps to ensure that North Devon will be hosting the 2011 Atlantic Watersports Games this summer.

The region was last month offered an opportunity to host the games, potentially drawing competitors from Britain, Spain, Ireland, France and Portugal, after the original venue in Wales was forced to pull out due to lack of funding.

Regeneration agency North Devon Plus is able to access European funding for the project and has led the bid to bring the games to the region.

A member of the Atlantic Watersports International Committee visited North Devon to assess its suitability – and declared it a ‘dream venue.’

But North Devon Plus still needed to find more money to ensure the games could be held in the area and issued a �50,000 appeal.

This week it thanked the local businesses and organisations that have stepped forward with sponsorship to support the bid.

Spokeswoman Laura Holt told the Gazette: “We are practically there. We are still looking for some more companies to provide services. But, yes, the games will be going ahead and will be a huge boost to the region. The games take place from July 23-28 and will attract around 85,000 visitors. This will benefit the tourism economy and put North Devon on the map as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and a centre of excellence for watersports.

“Our main sponsors to date are Ruda Holiday Park in Croyde, Torridge District Council, the AONB and Actavis, while several smaller businesses are adding their support through the provision of services. In helping to bring the Atlantic Watersports Games to North Devon, these businesses will benefit from national and pan- European press and television exposure.”

The games will see hundreds of competitors in sports such as sailing, surfing, canoeing, rowing, sand sailing and others at venues including Westward Ho!, Bideford, Saunton, Croyde and Roadford Lake.