Sailing and motor vessels of all types navigate the sheltered waters of Chichester Harbour before venturing into the Solent and English Channel. Smaller boats move slowly down the channels to the sheltered anchorage of East Head, going ashore to enjoy its sandy beaches. Dinghies race, darting between buoys, with straining sails and billowing spinnakers driven by the wind and tide. The colours and movements of the boats add a lively dimension to the Harbour. This is a vital landscape, pleasing to the eye in its natural setting and animated recreation, bringing a sense of tranquility and well-being to the visitor.

Chichester Harbour has a resident fleet of over 12,000 leisure vessels, representing about 25% of all the recreational craft in the Solent. Combined membership of the 14 sailing clubs amounts to 12,000 people and each year an estimated 25,000 enjoy the Harbour’s waters for racing, cruising and fishing. In turn, Chichester Harbour supports a large number of marine-related businesses, providing jobs and making a valuable contribution to the local economy

The important historic role of managing leisure sailing in the Harbour is overseen by the Chichester Harbour Federation which originated in 1924 when four sailing clubs realised there was a need to co-ordinate their activities for safety reasons. The Federation continues to support the work of the Conservancy in both its role as Harbour Authority and in managing the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. With four places on the Advisory Committee, it provides a strong platform to contribute to the management of the Harbour so that the sailing, boating and associated marine industries continue to flourish and the sailing waters and environment continue to be protected.