With powerboats set to descend on Eastbourne seafront this summer, reporter Juliet Perry headed to the harbour to sample the high speed thrills first hand...
EASTBOURNE will host the Grand Prix of the Sea this summer and when I was asked to go out on one of the powerboats taking part I jumped at the chance.
The 70mph racers are coming to the Eastbourne seas in July for the town’s annual extreme sports event and the organisers of the high speed racing competition were keen to show off the powerful machines.
The Superstock P1 National Championships will take place as part of Eastbourne Extreme between the Sovereign Centre and the harbour mouth on July 14 and 15.
The high speed racing boats and jet skis are expected to put on a fantastic visual show for the Eastbourne Extreme visitors on the beach and seafront, so I was delighted to find out what it feels like to be racing out at sea.
The media day started at the Sovereign Harbour Yacht Club where we were told about the £50,000 powerboat, which is considered to be relatively inexpensive compared to some.
We were then all taken out to sea on a fishing boat with the jet skis and powerboat following us out of the lock ready to offer an exhilarating and, what turned out to be, rather refreshing ride.
The Mayor of Eastbourne Carolyn Heaps was the first to go out on the powerboat and then it was my turn.
We swapped over out at sea and I donned a life vest and crash helmet which was fitted with a intercom allowing me to talk to pilot Mike Lovell.
Many people had told me I may suffer from a bad back after the ride, but I was amazed at how comfortable the seats were and I quickly settled in and started to enjoy the experience. We reached speeds of about 50mph and I got a brilliant view of Eastbourne.
The powerboat was racing the jet skis out on the water and jumping their wake. It was brilliant fun and I was jealous of Mike who spends as much time as he possibly can out on the ocean.
After the powerboat ride I got back on the fishing boat to meet the others and was immediately offered the chance to go out on the back of a jet ski. There were no spare wet or dry suits but I decided it was worth getting wet.
Jack Weller, a fully qualified racer who works for P1, took me out on the back of his jet ski and despite getting completely drenched on a cold and cloudy April day, I loved the experience.
Jack took it carefully to begin with but then started to race the other jet skis and the powerboat. It was scary at times as we accelerated into the waves and I was hanging on for dear life, but it was very exciting and I would get straight back on given the opportunity.
Jack was also doing tricks out at sea. At one point we were in the air and when we hit the water again I was officially wet through.
Mayor of Eastbourne Carolyn Heaps was also treated to a ride on both the powerboat and the jet ski. Like me, she loved every minute.
“I’m hooked,” she shouted as we raced alongside each other on the back of jetskis with the powerboat.
I am now thoroughly looking forward to seeing the Superstock National P1 Chamionships in the summer and although it will be visually exciting from Eastbourne’s beach, knowing what it feels like to be racing through the waves will make it all the more enjoyable.
See this week’s Herald (May 4) for more information on July’s event and for details about how jet ski owners can take part in the races.