by Peter Bell
Highcliffe RS400 Fat Face Circuit event
The Highcliffe RS400 Fat Face Circuit event provided excellent racing in exciting conditions. The weekend’s 'boisterous' weather forecast evidently deterred some campaigners from making the trip however those that made the effort were rewarded on Saturday by launching into a pleasant 12 knot breeze and clearing skies.
Close racing followed with Stuart Hudson and Nigel Wakefield showing a clean pair of heels, in form that may prove to be potent at the Nationals later this summer.
Sunday provided what much of the fleet had been aching for: a 'brisk' force 6-7 with plenty more on top at times and a pleasant if occasionally bumpy swell around the bay. Every team that took to the water had some tale of misadventure to tell.
Special mention should be made of newcomers and rising stars Jim Downer and Jon Price, whose crash test dummies display with a perfect pitchpole in a particularly steep stretch of sea, proved to be a real crowd pleaser.
Stuart Hudson and Nigel Wakefield made the most of the conditions to post two more bullets and wrap up first place overall allowing them an early departure from the race track.
By this time the conditions had taken their toll on many competitors and at the starting gun of the last race just two determined boats crossed the line. After a close first beat Michael Sims & John Swain and Sam Parker & Bex Marriott rounded within a boat length of one another and it became increasingly obvious that the downwind ride would decide the race.
The conservatism that had earned Parker and Marriott places earlier in the day was not the weapon of choice for the downhill adventure and Sims and Swain took a well – deserved first place showing boat handling more akin to 400 veteran than relative newcomer. Another face showing promising form ahead of the Nationals.
Special thanks to all at Highcliffe SC for an excellent weekend of racing and to PRO Pete Bell for taking the less easy decision on Sunday.