The most decorated Olympic sailor, Sir Ben Ainslie is to sail along the Beaulieu River in a scow to become guest of honour at a celebration for the 50th anniversary and completion of the £2m redevelopment of Buckler’s Hard Yacht Harbour.
Sir Ben will be presented with a certificate by Lord Montagu, granting him the Honorary Freedom of the Beaulieu River. He will be joined at the ceremony by round the world yachtsman Sir Chay Blyth CBE BEM, who was granted the ‘freedom of the river’ by Lord Montagu’s father at the original marina opening in 1971.
As part of the celebration on 14 August, Beaulieu River berth and mooring holders have been invited to a traditional style regatta. Youngsters will enjoy a crabbing competition, while families compete in rowing and swimming challenges for prizes to be awarded later in the day. Guests will also decorate their boats for a best dressed boat and crew competition, flying a limited edition golden anniversary burgee which was designed by mooring holder Philip Dyke specially for the celebrations. Joining them on the water will be members of the historic Beaulieu River Sailing Club, which was created 90 years ago by Lord Montagu’s grandmother Pearl.
Beaulieu Enterprises Managing Director Russell Bowman said: “This celebration begins the next chapter in Buckler’s Hard Yacht Harbour history, offering new and improved facilities for modern day sailing while preserving the natural beauty which has made this one of the most desired locations on the south coast. We look forward to welcoming back old friends and meeting new ones, who will make the most of our expanded berths and walk-ashore pontoons. We will share an exciting future together.”
Sir Chay Blyth said: “It was a privilege to be asked to perform the original opening and I am glad that in my lifetime, the Beaulieu River has kept its charm and is as special today as it was during my first visit over half a century ago. I am proud to be part of these celebrations to mark such a major new milestone.”
Despite coronavirus restrictions, the redevelopment has been carried out over two winters with its completion providing 66 new marina berths, with larger berths to suit vessels up to 20m, upgraded electrical services, improved WiFi and a new dedicated visitor area.
Specialist marina consultancy, Gosport-based Marina Projects managed the redevelopment, while the work was carried out by Fareham-based Walcon Marine – which undertook the original yacht harbour build 50 years ago. The Beaulieu Estate worked with agencies including Natural England and the Environment Agency to continue to protect the river’s unique habitats and species.
The Beaulieu River is one of the few privately owned rivers in the world and the custodianship of the Montagu family has protected it for over four centuries. Lord Montagu’s sister and Commodore of Beaulieu River Sailing Club, the Hon Mary Montagu-Scott said: “The Beaulieu River is my favourite place on earth and there are many sailors like me who find it an absolute joy to sail on such an unspoilt river, with its estuary creeks and wooded banks. We really are privileged to have such a wonderful team in place, focused on delivering excellent customer service and helping everyone to enjoy their time here.”
Harbour Master Wendy Stowe said: “The sailors we have already welcomed back are really enjoying all of the new and improved facilities. There is a great sense of community amongst our berth and mooring holders and we are offering the opportunity for others to join it.”
The yacht harbour, which was named as The Yacht Harbour Association’s coveted Coastal Marina of the Year (for under 250 berths) in 2018/19 and became runner-up in The British Yachting Awards’ Marina of the Year awards in 2020, has a long track record of giving a personal and outstanding service to its customers.
As the jewel of the Solent at the gateway to the New Forest, Buckler’s Hard Yacht Harbour offers full marina services, an open policy boatyard and chandlery and a range of benefits. A restaurant, bar and tea shop are on the doorstep at the 18th century shipbuilding village of Buckler’s Hard, with its Maritime Museum.