The Solent is known internationally for its recreational value as a location for sailing and other watersports. Large numbers of both local people and visitors take part in recreational boating throughout the year. Sailing, windsurfing, kite surfing, diving, power boating and the use of personal watercraft all take place in various locations around its shores. Angling is also a very popular activity. There are sheltered harbours for novices and children and safe open water for the more experienced. Taking to the water is a fantastic way to appreciate the Solent's landscapes and seascapes, enjoy the fresh air and get some exercise.
The Green Blue initative is an environmental education campaign that has lots of resources on how to undertake boating in a reponsible manner.
Harbour authorities are responsible for the management of many aspects of boating in their area of jurisdiction. They publish Notices to Mariners which give up to date information on what is happening in the harbour. They also provide information on events, clubs, launch points, moorings, local facilities, by laws and safety. Requesting a copy of their harbour handbook or visiting their website will be provide lots of useful information.
There are many public launch points scattered around the Solent offering a varying degree of facilities. The well equipped have car and trailer parking, toilets and are available at all states of the tide. Please read the accompanying notices at the slipway to make sure that you launch your craft safely and do not impede other users. The local harbour authority will be able to provide you with information on slipways and any charges within their harbour. Boat Launch provides a map of launch locations.
Numerous watersports events take place in the Solent throughout the year ranging from those for beginners to the competitive experienced sailor. Many are organised by local clubs and contacting them is a good way to find out about events taking place in a specific area. Large competitions such as Cowes Week, held in August, is a must event in many sailor's diaries. The Southampton International Boatshow is held in Southampton every September and is an excellent source of boating advice and products.
The annual Round the Island Race, organised by the Island Sailing Club, is a one-day yacht race around the Isle of Wight, an island situated off the south coast of England. The race regularly attracts over 1,700 boats and around 16,000 sailors, making it one of the largest yacht races. Competitors come from all over the UK, other parts of Europe and as far away as the USA to follow the 50 nautical mile course round the Isle of Wight. Starting on the famous Royal Yacht Squadron line in Cowes, the fleet races westabout, to The Needles, round St Catherine's Point and Bembridge Ledge buoy, and back into the Solent to the finish line at Cowes.
A good place to find out about events is by contacting the Solent Racing and Cruising Association.
Harbour authorities are responsible for the management of many aspects of boating in their area of jurisdiction. They publish Notices to Mariners which give up to date information on what is happening in the harbour. They also provide information on events, clubs, launch points, moorings, local facilities, by laws and safety. Requesting a copy of their harbour handbook or visiting their website is a good idea as it will be full of useful information.
The easiest way to find out about the activities taking place, details of training courses and local clubs is to contact the appropriate governing body for that sport. They will be able to provide you with all the information and guidance that you need.
Relevant contact details are as follows:
There are a number of activity centres located throughout the Solent offering a wide range of courses to the public, schools, community groups and local businesses. They provide an excellent way to get out on the water, to learn a new watersport or improve existing skills. They will also teach you how to enjoy a sport safely and responsibly.