altAPRIL 29 – A MAJOR new training facility to help Britain’s rowers to train for the 2012 Olympics and named after the sport’s two greatest names was opened today. The £13 million Redgrave Pinsent Rowing Lake and Sherriff Boathouse in Caversham near Reading was officially opened by Sir Steve Redgrave and Sir Matthew Pinsent (pictured).


The Redgrave Pinsent Rowing Lake has been developed by the Caversham Lakes Trust Ltd, in partnership with David Sherriff, Sport England and the Amateur Rowing Association.  It provides the South East with a world class training venue for future British Olympic rowers and is situated within a short distance of Eton College Dorney Lake, the chosen host venue for rowing at London 2012.

“This facility provides the perfect training base for our future Olympic champions,” said Sir Steve, winner of a record five Olympic gold medals. “We are delighted that the Amateur Rowing Association will be using the site to nurture new talent for Beijing 2008, London 12 and beyond.”


These sentiments were echoed by Sir Matthew, his former partner and a four-time Olympic gold medallist. “It’s a fantastic achievement to have created such a world class environment for rowers,” he said. “We are incredibly grateful to all the partners involved, in particular David Sherriff whose commitment ensured the project became a reality.”

The two knights were joined by Stephen Baddeley, acting chief executive of Sport England, Di Ellis chairman of the ARA, and David Sherriff, the benefactor of the site. “It is really exciting to see such an important world class venue become available for our top athletes,” said Baddeley. 


“Sport England is committed to improving our sporting infrastructure and this investment will provide generations of rowers with a world class training base from which to achieve even greater success.”


Ellis said: “This facility provides a legacy for the future of British rowing.  We are all very proud to be associated with a site which will make such a difference to the development of high performance rowing in this country.”

The vision for the 2,000 metres rowing course in Caversham came from Sherriff, who spent over 25 years positioning the project.  His strategy was to buy up small parcels of land and relocate his 300 berth marina to make way for a rowing centre, as well as securing extensive planning permission. 


This has meant Sherriff contributed a more than generous seven-figure sum towards the project.  It has provided the perfect training facilities for Britain’s future Olympic rowing squads, together with Oxford University Boat Race crews.

“I have wanted to create an Olympic size rowing course to help British men's and women's rowers since I first saw the Lake,” said Sherriff.  “We will also be improving the environment for local wildlife.”


The lake has been leased to the ARA as a high level training venue. Around 50 world class rowers are expected to use the site on a daily basis between October and July.  All athletes will have access to professional coaches and medical staff. 


Sherriff has also donated land and funding to develop a special lake area, small islands, planted lake edges and nature reserve areas that will enhance the habitat for water birds.  This will form part of a landscape and ecology management plan to work in synergy with the Lafarge Restoration Scheme which is currently in action in the neighbouring area.


The local community within the Thames area is set to benefit too.  As part of the development, new clubhouses have been built for the Reading Sailing Club and the Isis Water Ski Club and there will be opportunities in the future for local schools and clubs to use the world-class rowing facilities when the national squads are away