Highfield 800 Sport (8 m), testing a new dinghy with a killer hull


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Highfield 800 sports
The new inflatable boat Highfield 800 Sport

Fast, all-weather with a super-soft fairing. The new Highfield Sport 800 is the latest recreational dinghy from a shipyard that is world-renowned primarily for tenders and heavy-duty vehicles. Yet even on larger sizes, these aluminum reb definitely know their stuff. After all, it must mean something to have cut your teeth as a means of assistance and support for some of the toughest regattas in the world (like the
Vendee Globe

Highfield Sport 800. Note the hull in the reflection

My test of the Sport 800 took place in a different, far quieter context. The Trieste Barcolana. The world’s busiest regatta in the city of the Bora, sure, but also a gulf where when the calm sets in, not a leaf moves.

Highfield Sport 800

During the day I get to see what it is like to be aboard this 8-meter rib. Highfield is an official partner of the regatta, so we follow the whole event from 9 am to 3 pm.

There are eight of us on board, including journalists and Highfield’s team, moving around, changing positions, standing still. Conditions are clement, it is clear, but not a drop ever comes aboard, not even passing through the chaos of waves of thousands (literally) of boats going back and forth. Not a given. And all in all, for the size it also moves well.

Essential, but not trivial

On board is a rather basic rib. It starts with a nice aft platform with the outboard motor mounted on the end to maximize space preservation and facilitate access and descent into the water. On the flip side, when you moor aft, you stay a little bit away.

However, from here you get to a sundeck or double seat. The surface area is not a lot, but taking advantage of the whole beam, one can lie down in two without any problems. In the bow then is the second sundeck. In the middle of the boat we find a cockpit with a removable center table, a seat behind the wheelhouse, and the helm station. The layout and equipment (including technical equipment, which is not seen in the lockers) are very neat, without too many frills. It must be said that certainly the version tested is very true to the model name and perhaps strays a bit from the basic canons of “Italian-style” navigation. That said, setting it up depends on one’s taste and possibilities. How it sails, however, depends largely on the hull. And that’s a lot of stuff!

Stern cockpit on the Highfield Sport 800
Stern cockpit on the Highfield Sport 800

Testing the Highfield 800 Sport

One has to wait until the end of the Barcolana to go out and be able to push full on the gas. On board with me is Steve Harrison, the shipyard’s brand manager. “I’m a little sorry, ” he tells me as we leave the harbor, “ because I would have preferred a more formed sea, to really show you what she’s capable of.”

For me, this is the first time on a Highfield that is not a tender. From this evidence, the first suggestion I have is this: if you have never tried one, do it. And push on the gas if you feel up to it and are safe.

We at the stern had a
Honda BF350
, the new V8. I say without much ado that there were too many. A “test” raft that combined Honda’s latest and Highfield’s latest. Much less will also suffice because the 800 Sport (like all Highfields) is made of aluminum, so it is lightweight. Therefore, I did not take it all the way, but 47 knots at 5500 rpm was enough for me to taste what it is capable of.

Toward the waves

But let’s go in order. Outside the harbor, the water around us is flat, and I would like some waves other than the “8” in the water in the turning trials. The post-Barcolana hustle and bustle of vehicles and boats puts a Carabinieri patrol boat in my path, sailing along at a fairly high speed. It is a golden opportunity. We pass a fair distance away and encounter a nice contrary wave train. The 800 Sport does not blink as it cuts them without creaking or trouble at over 30 knots. At this point it is time to see if, given the deep V-shaped hull, taking them in the direction of the wave risks anything.

Dashboard on the Highfield Sport 800

Not knowing the boat thoroughly, I ask Steve Harrison to do this maneuver for me. His eyes light up. He was looking forward to it. The confidence he has with these means shows, but it also demonstrates a remarkable confidence that I have come to appreciate. We catch waves in both directions, and the boat always responds present. I take back control. I turn, accelerate, slow down, stop “suddenly,” give gas all the way. The hull always reacts with excellent grip on the water and feelings of safety and responsiveness in the hands. The top speeds we touched was 47 knots with an average consumption of 105 liters per hour. At cruising speed (25-28 knots), however, the instrument indicated consumption around 30/35 liters per hour.

Datasheet Highfield 800 Sport

Length f.t. LOA 8.11 m
Beam width 2.94 m
Tubing width. deflated Beam with deflated tube 1.71 m
Diam. Tubolars Tubolars 47-55 cm
Compartments Compartments 6
Hull Hull V
Weight Weight 1,150 kg (no engine)
Power Power 300 hp
Engine Engine Outboard
Serb. fuel Fuel tank 250 l
Serb. Water Water tank //
People Person 15
CE Cat: B-C





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