IT’S a boat that could train the Paralympic champions of the future – and now it’s got the Royal seal of approval as well.
The Princess Royal came to Southampton Water Activities Centre, in Ocean Village, to officially name the new Active Nation vessel, which is set to be used by dozens of disabled sailors in Southampton to boost their skills.
The Paralympic-class keelboat will be part of the Royal Yachting Association’s Sailability scheme, which the princess is a patron of.
Supporters of the charity, including record-breaking disabled sailor Geoff Holt, watched as the princess performed a traditional naming ceremony.
Paying tribute to the charity’s volunteers, she said: “It’s a pleasure to see so many people here who have supported Southampton Water Activities Centre for 25 years and Sailability more recently.
“I think traditionally it’s expected and it’s entirely appropriate to say may God bless her and all who sail in her.”
The princess was in a relaxed mood as she chatted to those who had gathered for the occasion, joking at one point that there was some champagne left in the bottle she had poured over the boat.
Wheelchair user Sian Wood, 23, who takes part in the Sailability programme in Southampton, was helped up to shake the princess’s hand.
Sian said: “I’d been practising for ages in my physiotherapy sessions, so I could stand up and shake the princess’s hand.
“She asked me how long I’d been sailing and I told her I came last summer as well.”
The boat was named Active Rupert, in memory of Rupert Spurling who designed the Active Nation brand, and passed away suddenly last year.