Monday, September 21, 2015
It is day 2 of the Nigel Pusinelli Trophy, organized by the National Solo Class Association and run by WPNSA here in Weymouth. The weather gods have been kind and conditions look set for another thoroughly enjoyable day on the water. The sun is breaking through the silvery haze that is wrapped around Portland and for one moment I thought I saw the statue of Christ the Redeemer looking down on the harbour. I wonder how many GBR Olympic hopefuls will look up to the mountain in Rio and think it looks like Portland.
The flags dockside are dancing in unison, the tannoy crackles in to life and beckons the sailors to the water, tallies adorning their wrists. PRO Jim Gollop orders his marker boats to their GPS co-ordinates and the tangerine orange ‘ON STATION flag is raised against a backdrop of Jurassic majesty.
The scene is set and the players enter the stadium.
Overnight leader is Andy Tunnicliffe and, adorned in the ‘event leader’ vest, he is one of the first to enter the ring. Hopwood is soon to follow and gradually the 46 other competitors join the party and ready themselves.
The wind is further right today and apparently will filter down one of two valleys, both of them or neither!
Race 4 is away first time in 12 knots from 250 degrees and Tunnicliffe stamped his authority on the race by winning the pin end and rounding first from the consistent Chris Brown and Southern Area champ Martin Frary. Two reaches followed and rule 42 observance was in evidence throughout the fleet. The wind moved left which resulted in a very broad reach but, perhaps unsurprisingly, the PRO was already manipulating the course to allow for a true beat for lap two. This is why WPNSA are the top race management team, they see the race through the eyes of the sailors. The next two laps saw little change and at the gun Tunnicliffe had done enough to take his second bullet of the weekend. Brown was second and Dave Mitchell worked through Frary to collect third. Andrew Wilde was fifth which kept his hopes alive.
The wind had increased slightly and was recording bursts of 15 knots at mark 1, the committee boat lurching up and down confirmed the anometer’s reading.
The game was up, the fleet had finally figured out that the left was paying and less room at the pin end was the result. Hopwood killed the first beat, relishing the increase in pressure and sea state to round first from Ian Macgregor and Brown. The fleet rolled in on the port layline, which resulted in some spicy mark roundings but no collisions. The sailors were enjoying the reaches with planing possible down the building wave pattern. There was still not enough to worry the gybe mark safety team, such is the quality in depth of the modern Solo sailor.
Hopwood stayed in the moment and extended over the following laps to bag a great win. Wilde was showing impressive pace and took second. At this point Brown crossed the line to be met with the sickening silence only those who have been OCS can appreciate. He floated off to the naughty seat where day 1 OCS victim Chris Cleaves had been perched. This promoted Chris Goldhawk to a deserved third, Tunnicliffe fourth which pretty much put the pin into the balloon of the leading contenders’ dreams and Scotman Kevan Gibb fifth. Kevan had forgotten to tally which incurred a £10 penalty to the RNLI. I do believe the benefactors plan to nail the Scotsman’s note to the lifeboats wheelhouse.
The breeze was holding at a steady 15 knots which suited the bigger sailors now. Dave Mitchell popped out near the pin end and powered over his competitors to round in the lead. Brown was in second, legally this time, and Jonathon Swain third. Swain was putting together some consistent results which bodes well for his future in the class. The fleet lapped up the reaches, Weymouth delivering the stellar conditions that has made it so popular as a training ground for the best of the best. By the end of lap two Hopwood had moved into second but he relinquished this by the gun. So, Mitchell won the race in style from Swain, Frary, Hopwood and Brown completing the top five. Tunnicliffe finished sixth but he had already a winning score to claim the title.
It was a fantastic weekend’s racing here in WPNSA, the facilities, race management, weather and pub food were faultless. The fleet were impeccably well behaved and suitably exhausted.
Andy Tunnicliffe was a worthy winner with a scoreline of 2-1-4-1-4-6, which must give him a warm feeling as he was using a sail cut by himself for the first time. Andrew Wilde in second demonstrated great speed and is one to look out for in North Berwick in August. Chris Brown is showing all his old prowess and is no less hungry…literally.
The Nigel Pusinelli trophy forms part of the North Sails Super Series 2015, sponsored by North Sails with additional Sponsorship from, Milanes foils, Winder Boats, Rooster, Creation covers, Superspars, Ronstan, C2 Marine, and of course Noble Marine who sponsor the NSCA
Thanks to WPNSA, our sponsors and to the competitors for making the worthwhile journey to the home of sailing.