The fickle tides of the Solent make for interesting sailing, but the story doesn’t end there. Arabella Youens examines the market for homes near watery hotspots.
When it comes to how the appetite for sailing along the coast affects the second-home market, the trail to follow is the ‘day boat and dinghy’ crowd, who, according to Dawn Carritt of Jackson-Stops & Staff (020–7664 6646), ‘are likely to be much more seasonal about their sport, can’t live on board their boat and therefore need an open mooring with a house nearby so that they can come home at the end of the day— more often than not, soaking wet.’
With Cowes Week starting on Saturday (August 6), even the heads of those least inclined to get involved will be turned by the beautiful classic yachts cutting a dash on the Solent. Christopher Bailey, head of Knight Frank’s waterfront property division (01392 848822), notes that sailing is currently growing as a hobby thanks to the achievements of Sir Ben Ainslie (who now lives on the Isle of Wight with his wife and baby) and Sir Keith Mills, who’s behind the America’s World Cup races that took place last month in Portsmouth.
He adds: ‘It’s also a fantastic hobby: not only is it very sociable and exhilarating, but it’s very affordable, can involve the whole family, is classless and ageless and it doesn’t matter if you’re fat or thin. It’s a fantastic escape from work, too.’
Chichester Harbour, West Sussex
Benefiting from easy access to London —it’s pretty much a straight shot down the A3 and a journey that’s been vastly improved by the creation of the Hindhead Tunnel—the sailing communities around Chichester Harbour of Bosham, Itchenor and Hayling Island all enjoy lively summers of sport.
The villages around the harbour have some pretty clapboard and Victorian houses that fetch millions because of what Philip Harvey of Property Vision describes as their ‘Swallows and Amazons’ appeal— very casual and relaxed, with children racing around on bikes and messing around on the water in dinghies and on paddleboards.
Mark Astley of Jackson-Stops & Staff in Chichester (01243 786316) has just put Cut Mill House (Fig 1) on the market at £1.65 million and describes it as ‘by far one of the most captivating houses I’ve ever seen’. The house lies just north of Bosham Channel within easy reach of the sailing club. ‘But the great thing about this area is that you don’t have to have a waterfront property,’ adds Christopher. ‘You don’t have to pay that premium and can just cycle in in the morning.’ He recommends Hayling Island as a ‘really fun sailing club’, which attracts weekenders who keep their dinghies on a ‘huge trailer park on site’.
Isle of Wight
Both sides of the Solent vie for top position when it comes to sailing, but, for Dawn, Cowes pips anywhere else to the post. ‘Cowes is very much a yachting haven, with the Royal Yacht Squadron and RORC (Royal Ocean Racing Club) being the premier clubs.’ There are other important ones on the island, including Sea View Yacht Club, which sits on a prime spot overlooking the water, and Bembridge Sailing Club. ‘There are only a couple of miles between them, but they consider themselves very separate,’ explains Christopher. ‘You’re either Bembridge or Seaview and the former is at the end of a tidal estuary, which makes for different types of sailing.’
According to Sam Biles of Biles & Co in Bembridge (01983 872335), the real hotspots for sailors on the Isle of Wight include Yarmouth, Cowes and Wootton, as well as Seaview and Bembridge, where visitors, crews, second-home owners and retirees mix with locals of all ages whose hobby is sailing anything from Yarmouth Scows to crewing or owning glamorous cruisers.
He explains: ‘Buyers are tribal, particularly those who have been coming down for generations. It’s likely their children learned to sail with children of friends 30 years ago as did their parents before them. The sailing clubs form the social hub of the smaller sailing centres, particularly in Yarmouth, Seaview and Bembridge.’
When it comes to buying a house in one of these areas, it’s possible to pick up a four-bedroom town house for between £400,000 and £500,000, but a one-off coastal property with at least six bedrooms will cost between £1.5 million and £3 million, depending on acreage and views. ‘Despite the ups and downs of the property market over the past decade, quality coastal property has always performed well and there’s only a finite supply of really good homes,’ adds Sam.
The Georgian market town of Lymington in the New Forest boasts two substantial marinas and a lively yacht club—the Royal Lymington—which attracts yachts as well as day sailors and dinghies. In terms of property, perfection for a buyer in this part of the world is ‘an uninterrupted water view of your own non-tidal deep-water mooring at the bottom of the garden,’ says Kevin Allen of John D. Wood’s Lymington office (01590 677233), ‘but, in reality, such a thing doesn’t exist’.
To the east of the town is the picturesque maritime hamlet of Bucklers Hard and the village of Beaulieu, which has a small marina with some safe anchorages and some of the country’s most expensive properties, but, in terms of securing a mooring, competition is hot, so ‘be prepared for a wait,’ advises Kevin.
Although the sailing clubs within reach of London tend to function all year round, the further west you travel, the more seasonal the arrangements, says Christopher. ‘Sailing clubs come to life in the summer and one of the highlights of the social calendar will be the town regatta week in Salcombe, which is taking place right now [until August 6].’
For Harriet Cundy of Marchand Petit (01548 844473), this time of year is absolutely peak season for house viewings. ‘A lot of our buyers are drawn to Salcombe because they want to mess around on the water. It’s not all about big boats here— there’s no marina—it’s more day boats, dinghies and paddleboarding. But there’s something for everyone: competitive racing at the yacht club every weekend in the season for those who want it and plenty of beaches, fishing and walking for others—it caters for all tastes and across the generations.’
She expects business this year to be as brisk as ever for houses in the right location with the appropriate price, for which demand is strong. ‘This is a discretionary purchase after all, so people will wait a long time to find a property to suit them,’ she adds.
Royal Yacht Squadron Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC) www.rcyc.co.uk
Sea View Yacht Club www.svyc.org.uk
Bembridge Sailing Club www.bembridgesailingclub.org
Royal Lymington Yacht Club https://rlymyc.org.uk
Itchenor Sailing Club www.itchenorsc.co.uk
Bosham Sailing Club www.boshamsailingclub.com
Royal Dart Yacht Club www.royaldart.co.uk
Salcombe Yacht Club www.salcombeyc.org.uk
St Mawes Sailing Club www.stmawessailing.co.uk