Sir Ben Ainslie, the four-times Olympic gold medallist and America's Cup winner, signalled the start of operations at Southampton Docks new 500 meter long new quay (SCT5) on Monday 31st March, with the loading of a golden container onto one of the world's biggest ships, the CMA CGM Marco Polo.
St Swithun’s Junior School sailors were selected by SWAC (Southampton Water Activities Centre) to meet their sailing hero at this momentous day in the port’s 175-year history.
On arrival at the port the girls were greeted by Jon Kirby from Southampton Water Activities Centre (SWAC) and then transported by bus to the event. As they were ushered into their enclosure the girls were in awe of the size of the ship and the gold container on board it. As they were kitting themselves up in their buoyancy aids and sailing bibs Sir Ben arrived to meet them and was soon swamped by the twelve extremely enthusiastic girls. They were thrilled to have the chance to ask him their many questions and get him to sign their memorabilia. A photo shoot with Sir Ben and the managers of SCT5 then ensued before everyone was treated to tea and cake in the sunshine.
The girls who regularly sail at SWAC on Saturday afternoons, including over the cold winter months, were then rewarded with SCT5 commemorative opening plaques and returned to school clutching their signed goodies overjoyed at having met such a sailing superstar.