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PPSA Sailing

PPSA Sailing

A Pembrokeshire sailing academy opens second site thanks to support from Business Wales and the Development Bank of Wales.

Having spent 32 years in the armed forces including as a Coach with the Army Sailing Association, Director and Chief Instructor Richard Owens decided to turn his passion into a business and set up Pembrokeshire Performance Sailing Academy in 2013. Thanks to support from the Welsh Government’s Business Wales service and the Development Bank of Wales, he is now looking to open a second site in Lydstep this Easter. 

  • advisory support with business and financial planning
  • a £20,000 loan secured from the Development Bank of Wales
  • HR support with policies and procedures

Introduction to business

Set up in 2013 and with full access to the Cleddau Estuary and Milford Haven Waterway, Pembrokeshire Performance Sailing Academy (PPSA) is the leading Royal Yachting Association (RYA) sailing and powerboat training centre in South West Wales.

Located in Llanion Cove near Pembroke Dock, PPSA provides training for beginners as well as accomplished club sailors through a complete range of RYA Dinghy Sailing courses, including keelboat and multihull training as well as powerboat courses.

Why did you decide to set up your own business?

After spending 32 years in the armed forces, I was in a position to be ‘the master of my own destiny’ and wanted to do something that I was passionate about. As a very keen dinghy sailor, I wanted to be able to impart my knowledge and experience to others. As an RYA Coach/Assessor, I was ideally placed to do this.

I established the business in 2013 after I retired from the Royal Signals. Initially at Dale in Pembrokeshire, as the business expanded, I had the opportunity to move to Llanion Cove, near Pembroke Dock, and to deliver sailing, powerboating and shore-based theory activities from there.

What challenges did you face?

The biggest challenge in this part of the world is population density and encouraging people to travel here to undertake courses. The current site at Llanion Cove is ideal for the delivery of RYA courses and instructor training with plenty of accommodation and classroom facilities as well as a 24-hour access to water. While great for those that already sail, trying to encourage the tourist trade here is difficult. The new site at Lydstep is far better placed to be able to offer sailing experiences to regular tourists and those in the local area. From a financial point of view, unfortunately, the challenge of getting funding to expand was too great, with no obvious provider for my size of business and for the amount of loan I was seeking.

Business Wales support

Richard ‘Taff’ Owens approached Business Wales when he decided it was the right time for PPSA Sailing to expand. Adviser Darren Thomas, who assisted with Richard’s business plan and cashflow forecasts, helped him to explore funding options and supported him throughout the application process for a £20,000 loan from the Development Bank of Wales. Richard was successful in obtaining the finance, which he will invest in the purchase of two new sailing boats and a powerboat for the second site in Lydstep.


  • a advisory support with business and financial planning
  • a £20,000 loan secured from the Development Bank of Wales
  • HR support with policies and procedures

Business Wales first highlighted the opportunities that may be available to us when I decided to explore avenues to take my aspirations further and grow the business. My adviser, Darren, was very knowledgeable and helped me throughout the process of securing a business loan from the Development Bank of Wales. He has also assisted me while looking for grant applications.

Future plans and ambitions

Now that we have established the new site at Lydstep, we want to consolidate and perhaps expand our fleet there, should the requirement for this become apparent. We also wish to expand to other areas if we are successful with our current sites. We would want to deliver more technical (e.g. Advanced Powerboating) courses from our HQ at Llanion Cove, which is potentially a significant enhancement, but this is indeed something for the future.

If you want to read more success stories of how Business Wales has helped other people like you to start or grow their businesses, visit https://businesswales.gov.wales/case-studies or follow @_businesswales / @_busnescymru on Twitter.

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