Back in 1983 three local businessmen, Dirk Kuyt, Howard Smallwood and Dave Clark, set about gaining planning permission to develop a new marina on the beach at Largs, Firth of Clyde. There was much doubt and scepticism about this greenfield site from Clyde yachtsmen and the local people.
With the financial backing of Yacht Havens Group, based in Lymington, Hampshire, the breakwaters were constructed and dredging commenced to create a deep water basin to accommodate yachts at all states of tide. The first yacht sailed in 1984 to very simple facilities and over the course of the last 30 years the marina has grown from its embryonic stages to become Scotland’s first 5 gold anchor marina supporting 730 berths, over 120 full time jobs, 17 business premises and a 250 space boatyard with two travel hoists.
In addition Largs Sailing Club relocated from Largs town to a purpose built clubhouse and event centre in 1999 and has since attracted many world and international sailing championships to Largs, creating a huge economic boost to the local area.
The latest business to join the Yacht Haven is the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust, supporting children, recovering from cancer, through sailing. The Trust’s programme has expanded into Scotland in 2014 from Cowes, Isle of Wight.
All forms of watersports can be enjoyed at the Yacht Haven from yacht charter, motor boating, tuition, diving, fishing, sea kayaking and more recently the Coastal Rowing Club bringing many new participants from the local community to enjoy the fabulous playground that is the Firth of Clyde.
For the land visitor facilities have been included from inception for public car parking, coastal walks and BBQ areas. The Yacht Haven is an ideal 20 minute walk from the town centre and is also adjacent to Kelburn Castle and Country Centre, home to the Earl of Glasgow and open to the public for walks, recreation and summer music festivals.
“Our first 30 years have been exciting and challenging, creating a vibrant and successful business from a sandy beach. The marina has been developed into much more than just a boat park, we have created a marine destination and have always encouraged members of the public to enjoy our facilities. We are based in a fabulous location in very sheltered scenic waters and only 40 minutes from the airport and Glasgow. We still have plans for continuous development and improvements as the needs and lifestyles of yachtsmen change. Our berth holders have been extremely loyal and supportive of all that we have done and have helped us through the early years.”
Yacht Haven director Carolyn Elder, who has worked at the marina since 1987.