Kintyre Seasports’ new vessel a ‘vehicle for opportunity’

From left: Kintyre Seasports' new operations and development manager Jamie Rodgers, Danny Byrne, Gillian MacIntyre and Miranda Bone trying out the new safety vessel.
From left: Kintyre Seasports' new operations and development manager Jamie Rodgers, Danny Byrne, Gillian MacIntyre and Miranda Bone trying out the new safety vessel.

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The introduction of a new manager and safety vessel has launched a fresh new chapter in the Kintyre Seasports story.

Members of the community and representatives of affiliated organisations gathered as Jamie Rodgers, the Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation’s new operations and development manager, launched the five-metre rigid inflatable boat last Friday evening.

He was joined by special guests Gillian MacIntyre and Danny Byrne, and Affinity Trust support worker Miranda Bone, who all enjoyed a tour round Campbeltown Loch after Gillian cut the ribbon.

Gillian MacIntyre has a shot behind the wheel of the new vessel under the watchful eye of qualified instructor Jamie Rodgers.
Gillian MacIntyre has a shot behind the wheel of the new vessel under the watchful eye of qualified instructor Jamie Rodgers.

The vessel was purchased thanks to a substantial grant from the Benzies Foundation, an organisation which supports charities introducing disadvantaged children to recreational sports, with support from Campbeltown Sailing Club, which offered an interest-free loan.

The vessel will act as a safety and escort boat for all Kintyre Seasports activities and will also support the organisation’s application to become a Royal Yachting Association (RYA) recognised training centre.

This status will enable Kintyre Seasports, which connects education providers, community groups and water sports clubs, to train dinghy sailors, sailing instructors and powerboat drivers, and issue internationally recognised RYA qualifications in Campbeltown.

Additionally, it will provide a platform to generate income and attract tourism, an important factor in the Kintyre Seasports business case for funding its proposed new facilities which, according to British Marine Scotland, could attract 700 additional visitors a year.

Speaking at the launch event, Kintyre Seasports chairman Campbell Fox described the vessel as a ‘vehicle for opportunity’.

‘Going back a wee while now, Campbeltown Sailing Club, Kintyre Youth Café and Kintyre Seasports kicked off the project to train children to sail, and train as sailing instructors,’ he said. ‘Covid intervened, as it did with many other things, but now, with Jamie on board full-time, we’ve got the capability to deliver that project.’

Jamie, 26, from northern Aberdeenshire, is a highly qualified sailing and powerboat instructor, who has recently completed a PhD in oceanography at the Scottish Association for Marine Science in Oban.

Jamie Rodgers has been appointed operations and development manager at Kintyre Seasports.
Jamie Rodgers has been appointed operations and development manager at Kintyre Seasports.

He said: ‘This boat is a key tool for us. It will be our primary safety boat but it will also be perfect for training people as powerboat drivers and safety boat drivers.

‘It will be in the background of the majority of what we’ll be doing over the next few years, allowing us to make sure that everything is carried out safely and correctly, following best practice.’

Jamie does not come from a sailing background but his interest was sparked through a taster session organised by his Cub Scouts group.

He has already engaged with youngsters from Campbeltown Grammar School, with 50 S2 students signing up for his own taster sailing sessions.

‘The aim is that, through the programmes we’re doing with the high school, we’ll get more young people qualified and the project will become more self-sustaining,’ said Jamie, who has been in post since February.

‘In a few years’ time, people who are in high school now may be in the situation where they can do exactly what I’m doing now.’

‘The engagement we’ve had, especially from the school, has been fantastic. That’s really promising and makes all the hard work worthwhile – the work that Campbell, some of the other trustees and so many members of the community have put in over the last several years. I’m really just arriving at the time when everything is happening!’

In Campbeltown Sailing Club, after last Friday’s boat launch, Campbell thanked Gillian and Danny for doing the honours.

Gillian MacIntyre cuts the ribbon held by Jamie Rodgers as Danny Byrne and Miranda Bone look on.

Both are involved with Kintyre Seasports through its Third Sector Interface community mental health and wellbeing programme, one of the group’s three ‘changing lives’ projects, in partnership with Kintyre Canoe Club, Campbeltown Sailing Club and Kintyre SUP Club.

The other projects are the school sailing training and the ‘try dive’ programme, run by British Sub-Aqua Club volunteers, in partnership with Kintyre Youth Café and Kintyre Alcohol and Drug Advisory Service.

Jamie is supported in running these projects by 17 qualified volunteer instructors in sports including kayaking, paddle-boarding, sailing and diving.

Campbell explained it was South Kintyre councillor Donald Kelly who first suggested, seven years ago, that Campbeltown Sailing Club, of which Campbell was commodore at the time, and Dalintober Beach Group should join forces for the benefit of both groups.

This effectively led to the creation of Kintyre Seasports in 2017.

‘That connection resulted in the first community regatta in 2018,’ said Campbell. ‘There were 60 volunteers running that event, with over 100 people out on the water and 200 people on the beach.

‘In 2019, we had 250 on the beach and over 200 in the water. This year’s event is planned for August 6 and the beach group is still playing a leading role.

‘I think the evidence is indisputable – we would not have gotten to this point had it not been for that connection with the community.

‘Following the 2018 regatta, participation in all the water sports we’re involved in now doubled and that’s no coincidence.

‘As long as we can maintain that community commitment, we’ll get where we need to go.’

Jamie McLean, chairman of Dalintober Beach Group, said: ‘Thanks to the beach group committee, its supporters and the community for their continued support towards our affiliation with the Kintyre Seasports project.

‘Thanks to Campbell Fox and the team for their hard work in getting the project to this stage. We all look forward to working together with Jamie Rodgers to take things to the next level.’

From left: Dalintober Beach Group chairman Jamie McLean, Kintyre Seasports operations and development manager Jamie Rodgers and Kintyre Seasports chairman Campbell Fox.
From left: Dalintober Beach Group chairman Jamie McLean, Kintyre Seasports operations and development manager Jamie Rodgers and Kintyre Seasports chairman Campbell Fox.

Councillor Kelly said: ‘The acquisition of the safety boat is another important milestone for this project.

‘Hopefully in the not-too-distant future, all of the remaining pieces in the jigsaw will fall into place and we will see the Dalintober Beach/Kintyre Seasports project reach its full potential.’

Councillor John Armour, who joined Councillor Kelly at the launch event, said: ‘Those who have driven this forward deserve a huge amount of credit for getting the project this far and the launch of the safety vessel is another step along the road.

‘This project has great potential and can bring a lot of visitors to the town.

‘The one issue that I get contacted about is from residents on Low Askomil concerned about traffic congestion and parking.

‘That issue needs to be resolved and I’m sure it will be, which will allow the Seasports project to blossom into something the town and those involved in taking it forward can be very proud of.’

Today (Friday), an RYA inspector is visiting Campbeltown to examine Kintyre Seasports’ ability to qualify as a registered training centre. Watch this space for more news from the organisation.