As you would expect North Wales offers fantastic sailing conditions and facilities all along the coast as well as inland at many of the lakes, making it ideal for all types of boats and sailors with all levels of experience.
There are a host of Sailing / Yacht Clubs offering a wide range of facilities which are ideal for those with their own boat if you’re an experienced sailor but don’t own a yacht, chartering is a great option and for those who are new to sailing, a skippered yacht gives you the opportunity to test your sea-legs! But if you don’t know a dinghy from a keel boat or your starboard from your port then help is at hand as there are plenty of sailing schools across the region. Approved by the RYA (Royal Yachting Association which is the National Governing Body for sailing in Britain), you can take a beginners course which is ideal for those that want to take their first steps afloat, a course to develop your skills or a more advanced course for those that want to skipper their own yacht or even become an instructor.
Plas Menai is the National Watersports Centre for Wales which is based outside Caernarfon and as well as offering sailing courses they also run Windsurfing, Powerboating courses and activity days for children and families. Other Clubs include Conwy School of Yachting in Conwy, North Wales Power and Sail on the Conwy Estuary, Abersoch Sailing School, Pwllheli Sailing Club and inland you’ve Llyn Brenig Sailing Club, the highest sailing club in North Wales and Bala Sailing Club, which is the biggest stretch of inland water in Wales offering excellent sailing conditions for members and visitors. Most of the clubs hold regular racing as well as sometimes open events which often go hand in hand with a more leisurely cruise section and some clubs, especially inland ones also offer other activities like whitewater rafting, wind-surfing and canoeing.
For experienced sailors with their own yacht there are six marinas – Pwllheli on the Llŷn, Victoria Dock at Caernarfon, Port Dinorwic at Y Felinheli, Conwy and Deganwy Quays and Holyhead on Anglesey, with Foryd Harbour at Rhyl due to open in 2013.
Hafan Pwllheli Marina is on the River Rhyd-hir and is a sheltered harbour with the capacity for 400-berths on pontoons with piles and has access at virtually all states of the tide. Contact 01758 701219 or visit www.hafanpwllheli.co.uk.
Victoria Dock is situated within 2 minutes walk of the historic town of Caernarfon on the banks of the Menai Strait. It has fully serviced berths for nearly 50 permanent craft and up to 30 visiting vessels on floating concrete pontoons. The dock is accessible approximately 3 hours either side of High Water. Contact 01286 672118 or visit www.caernarfonharbour.co.uk.
Port Dinorwic is also situated on the Menai Strait located in a small narrow valley providing excellent shelter. The marina is divided into three sections, the inner lock basin has 120 berths, the tidal pontoon basin has 100 berths and outside the sea-lock entrance the tidal pontoon can accommodate 20 berths. Contact 01248 671500 or visit www.portdinorwic.com.
Conwy Marina is the first purpose-built marina on the North Wales coast and is superbly situated with the 13th Century Castle facing opposite. There is good shelter when approaching except in strong NW’lies and it’s a large 500-berth marina with fully serviced berths on pontoons which can be accessed through half tide and high water. Outside of this period vessels should wait at the pontoon outside the gate entrance. Contact 01492 593000 or visit www.quaymarinas.com.
Deganwy Marina lies on the River Conwy under the old Deganwy Castle and faces the town of Conwy with its Castle. This modern marina was completed in 2004 and offers berths for 165 craft on floating concrete pontoons and is entered via an automatic tidal gate accessed through half tide and half water. Holding pontoons are located at the seaward northern end of the Conwy Harbour pontoons should the marina entrance be closed. Contact 01492 576888 or visit www.quaymarinas.com.
Holyhead Marina can be entered in all weather conditions and at all states of the tide and offers 300+ berths. Contact 01407 764242 or visit www.holyheadmarina.co.uk.
Regattas and competitions are held across the Region at the marinas and harbours which in their own right are a spectacle to behold! Visit Pwllheli, Caernarfon, Conwy, Porthmadog, Aberdovey, Barmouth, Holyhead and Beaumaris.
Chris Russell began sailing at the age of 5 and will be at the North Wales Boat Show on the Wednesday 26th July 2013. He progressed quickly to an International level as a youth in the Optimist, 420, Laser Radial, and later 470 classes. Having taken some time out from the sport to focus on his studies and building a career in advertising/marketing, he returned in 2009 to the single-handed Olympic Laser Class, with the aim of reaching the very top of the sport. Having missed out on the London 2012 Olympics, Chris’s sights are firmly focussed on Rio 2016.