The end of an era

Ocean Village Clubhouse, home for 30 years

The Royal Southampton Yacht Club closed the doors last weekend on its prestigious base for 30 years in Southampton’s Ocean Village.

The Club is moving its principal operations to its out of town clubhouse, Gins on the Beaulieu River at St Leonards, near Bucklers Hard.

The move follows the sale of the clubhouse and its commanding position on the waterfront, along with the club’s holdings at Ocean Village to marina operator MDL, and follows a change in the pattern of the use of the clubhouse. The sale puts the Club, which has been debt free for many years, on a sound financial footing to meet changing demands.

The doors will close on the bar and restaurant after the usual Sunday carvery this weekend, although the Club will not formally hand over its interests until the end of February.

Administrative operations will remain for the time being although options are being investigated for alternative facilities. Club activities on the water will be unaffected and its year-round full racing programme has already been drawn up for the next 12 months. The cruising programme will also continue.

But changes are anticipated in the Club’s social programme with some regular events switched to Gins and the Club has been fortunate in negotiating an agreement with the Southampton restaurant and hotel, Ennio’s, a few hundred yards from Ocean Village, opposite the entrance to the city’s Town Quay, which will host some events with the Club.

The final social event at Ocean Village will be the Commodore’s Charity Trafalgar Night dinner on October 20, but until then the bar and restaurant will remain closed. The Clubhouse will also re-open specially for the Club’s annual general meeting on November 3.

Commodore Anthony Knight said: ‘We need to evolve as a Club to ensure that we can sustain ourselves into the future and be relevant to new generations of sailor.

‘These challenges are not exclusive to us and there have been consultations with other premier clubs to understand how they have responded to these challenges. There are no plans to merge with other clubs but we will look for opportunities to work more closely with like-minded ones both to reduce costs and to improve the offer to our members.’

The Club has occupied its prime position on the city’s waterfront at Ocean Village since 1988, a year after the foundation stone was laid by the Admiral, Prince Michael of Kent. It has held the rare privilege of enjoying two clubhouses, for more than 50 years, with its second clubhouse at Gins, long regarded as the Club’s ‘jewel in the crown.’

It is now set to become the Club’s prime base, on the banks of the Beaulieu River and part of the Beaulieu Estate, home of the Montagu family. It was the present Lord Montagu’s late father, the third Baron Montagu who was instrumental in making the land available and establishing the Gins clubhouse. He was a Commodore of the Club in the 1980s.

Gins Clubhouse, on the Beaulieu River