Solent Central

Jim Saltonstall looks at one of the country's most used racing venues
The central Solent has hosted countless numbers of events over many, many years. It could well be the most popular venue in the country, for the number of boats out racing regularly. This is partly due to the large number of clubs that race in the area north of the Brambles Bank. It’s not uncommon to find four or five courses out there on a summer weekend. Fortunately the clubs involved have developed a rapport over the years and largely the potential overlaps in this restricted water are well-managed. The clubs that host events in the northern Solent include; Royal Yacht Squadron, Royal Southern YC, Royal Southampton YC, Hamble River SC, Warsash SC and Hill Head SC. With the Royal Yacht Squadron fixed start-line at Cowes, to the south, used both by Cowes Combined Clubs (for Cowes Week) and the Royal Ocean Racing Club (for everything from their club racing to the Admiral’s Cup) and you’ll see why this is a busy piece of water. All of these clubs have excellent facilities ashore, good club houses, parking and good race management teams. The accommodation around the Southampton and Hamble area is plentiful, as are camping and caravanning facilities. The popular pubs with the sailors in Hamble include the King and Queen and the Square Rigger. In Warsash the Rising Sun is the place, while in Southampton, Town Quay and Ocean Village are both popular venues for eating and drinking. Cowes is just as well set-up to accommodate the visiting yachtsman as Hamble and Southampton. There is plenty of local accommodation and marine services. Though these are necessarily strained during Cowes Week itself, when prices are notoriously high - book early! Race Areas There are two main race areas in the central Solent, the best of which is to the north, situated