Wetwheels Hamble, a custom-made 10-metre twin-hulled motorboat, has been officially named by Dame Mary Fagan DCVO, JP, on Saturday 14th May, at a packed ceremony with over 100 invited guests at the Royal Southern Yacht Club (RSrnYC) in Hamble, where the boat is berthed and managed.
Captain Christopher Fagan joined Dame Mary on the Prince Philip Yacht Haven pontoons, alongside Trustees of the Wetwheels Foundation (WWF), Eastleigh MP Mims Davies, the Directors of Wetwheels Hamble CIC and the Commodore of the Royal Southern Yacht Club.
Following the pontoon naming ceremony, everyone gathered in the Club where past Commodore and Wetwheels Hamble CIC Director David Mead, welcomed everyone. Dame Mary said she was thrilled to be naming another of Geoff’s Wetwheels boats having launched the first one – Wetwheels Solent – four years ago at the Southampton Boat Show.
Then, in a complete surprise to Geoff and the assembled gathering, Dame Mary read out a personal message of support for the Wetwheels Hamble initiative from the Club’s Patron, HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, which received warm applause.
In recognition of this milestone occasion, disabled sailing ambassador Geoff Holt MBE, DL, the driving force behind the Wetwheels initiative, spoke passionately and very movingly about how his vision for Wetwheels began and where it has got to today, rounding off by saying:
“Today is obviously a special day for everyone involved but it is also a tremendously moving day for me. We have come a long way and it makes me incredibly proud to see this, our 3rd boat on the water, especially knowing the lives she will enrich over her life time here on the river. The Hamble is very special to me for a number of reasons and I just know that the whole community will benefit from her presence here.”
This boat’s timeline began in June 2014 when it was first agreed that the proceeds from the RSrnYC Charity Summer Ball would go towards the building of a Wetwheels Hamble boat to be operated from the Royal Southern. It was also agreed that the funding to provide disabled facilities in the Club’s new Prince Philip Yacht Haven were to be donated through the Royal Southern Yacht Club Charitable Trust.
A year later the fundraising campaign was officially launched at the Club and a mere 44 days after that a party was held to announce that 75% of the target has been reached, sufficient to instruct Cheetah Marine to schedule the building of the third boat for launching in the Spring of 2016. This was made possible by some generous donations amounting to some £30,000 from Club Members and friends who support and admire the great work carried out by Geoff Holt.
The Wetwheels boats are all built by Cheetah Marine in Ventnor, Isle of Wight and Suzuki, who have supported Geoff Holt since the launching of the Solent boat that operates from Gunwharf Quays in Portsmouth, are the official engine suppliers.
Qualified skippers and crews are currently operating the boat on a pro bono basis but in the medium term, and when funds allow, Wetwheels Hamble would like a full time local skipper.
The Wetwheels Foundation (a registered charity) was established in 2013 with the aims of supporting and developing the Wetwheels concept across the UK. Wetwheels boats operate under the direction of the national charity and it is hoped that a further five boats will be delivered over the next five years.
Andy Fell, Chairman of the WWF, said: “We are delighted with the new Wetwheels Hamble boat. We know there is a big demand from disabled people to access the water in this area and what better home for our 3rd boat than the Prince Philip Yacht Haven on the beautiful Hamble River.”
To donate to the Wetwheels Hamble Campaign and secure its future operation and maintenance, visit: https://campaign.justgiving.com/charity/wetwheelsfoundation/hamble