Even Keel Project Opens Doors on 2010 Plans.

Sailing is a great platform for training, rehabilitation and developing teamwork. It is one sport where able bodied and disabled participants can compete together at the same level. In the past few years, several programmes have been established to harness sailing for these purposes.

Often new technology is utilised to allow disabled sailors to get on the water, but other programmes make the most of being part of a team to encourage participation. In the UK, programmes like Toe in the Water and the Even Keel Project are showing that this open access to the sport can really deliver results for participants.

Last week the Even Keel Project held an Open Day  in Cowes with partners Artemis Investment Management and UKSA. Managing Director of The Even Keel Project, David Rutter, presented a brief review of how the Project has started to really move forward over the past year and outlined the Project’s plans for 2010.

Dave Rutter thanked the Project’s supporters and his team, saying:

“We have achieved so much during the brief time we have been afloat and we fully appreciate that none of this would have been possible without the support of many organisations, for which we are truly appreciative.

“Trying to get new ideas and projects established is never easy during the best of times let alone while a recession has been in full flow, so for the project to have achieved so much in 2009 can only be down to the generosity and faith of our sponsors and hard work from all our staff. It has been a pleasure working with them all and we look forward to 2010 and to rolling out further sites for even more people to enjoy.”

The Project’s mission has moved around a bit, but in general terms is strives to get more people out sailing on equal terms. To date, the focus has been on disabled sailors, but the programme also has application for people who might not otherwise get the opportunity to go sailing.

Key initiatives unveiled for 2010 include:

  • The Project’s presence at the IFDS Disabled World Sailing Championships at Medemblik, Netherlands in July that will enable The Even Keel to showcase the Artemis 20 to a global audience.
  • The launch of the Artemis Even Keel Challenge that is being raced over three days during Cowes Week 2010 to introduce the most aspiring disabled sailing candidates of the Even Keel’s season to this most prestigious and fun annual racing fixture. The winners will then have the opportunity to crew for professional sailing celebrities in the culmination of the Challenge on Day 3.

The project has managed to secure a long-term agreement with UKSA in Cowes, Isle of Wight, as The Even Keel Project’s UK base, but the plan is to replicate the programme around the world. The management team is in negotiation to establish centres of excellence in Boston Mass, Rotterdam and in Poland.

Simon Davies, Director of Youth Development at UKSA, commented:

“We are absolutely delighted to be getting involved and to be hosting this inspirational project in the UK. Sailing is one of only a few sports where having a physical disability does not have to be a disadvantage. We are delighted to have been able to offer hundreds of sailors access to the water at UKSA through our adaptive sailing programme and that this project will allow us to help hundreds more.”

And finally to the sponsorship bit. Many of the stories we cover are about companies using sailing sponsorship in a traditional sports marketing way. The values are about competition and being the best, innovating, developing great teams. Sponsorship of the Even Keel Project is a different kind of sponsorship. It shows that companies are committed to diversity and giving back to the community. The teamwork element is still there, but there is a greater focus on corporate, social responsibility (CSR) than sponsoring an America’s Cup team for example. The project is especially grateful to its title sponsor, Artemis, for its continued support. Artemis is a dedicated active investment management house, specialising in investments and asset management for retail investors and segregated institutional investment management.

More info at www.theevenkeel.com

Also in the UK, the Toe in the Water project uses sailing to get injured servicemen and women back into high performing teams. Cowes.co.uk tells more in this interview …