Nigel Pusinelli Championship Preview
Friday, June 7, 2019
Ahead of the Solo National Championship at WPNSA August 8-11th, the fleet will converge at the Academy on 15-16 June to contest the Nigel Pusinelli Trophy. This will be a perfect opportunity to test the venue and equipment before returning for the main event.
A bit about the man
Nigel served his country in the war and was evacuated from Dunkirk and awarded the Military cross for rescuing a brother under fire. In peacetime he joined the colonial service and was based near Fiji. Of his time there he said, ‘‘it was like living in a perpetual holiday climate but having to work all hours to keep on top of the files’’. Relocated to Aden he became director of establishments and was later awarded the CMG and OBE for his outstanding service to country or as he said, “for holding the fort’’. He likened the problems encountered in Aden as “ rather like a Northern Ireland with several groups of terrorists all fighting us’’.
Nigel Pusinelli was one of the founder members of the N.S.C.A and sailed his National Solo at Emsworth S.C. and then Chichester Y.C. for over thirty years. He was still racing and attending the national Championships well in to his eighties and received a special award at the 1995 Nationals in recognition of his involvement of the class. Nigel was a very unassuming man, his winning speeches, of which he made many were a joy to the ear, such was his grasp of the spoken word. Nigel Pusinelli was presented with A Lifetime Achievement Award by HRH Princess Anne on his retirement from the RYA.
Nigel passed away in July 2010 and the pre-championship event at Weymouth was re-named in his honour.
The inaugural event was held in 2008 and the fleet were greeted to champagne sailing and impeccable race management, two qualities which have been repeated every year since. Jim Hunt 1-1-1-1-2 took a dominant win in the Boon/North laminate/D+ ahead of Cliff Crawshaw in his fathers hull and Salcombe’s Chris Cleaves.
2009 - Alistair Morley took the title 1-1-1-2-2, the Salcombe based sailor gaining three bullets in his overall score. A whopping turnout of 48 Solos’ a format of best five from six races, two tough attritional days racing but many smiles. Charlie Cumbley was cutting his teeth in the Solo and his second place result was an indication of has skill. Chris Brown took third, the midland based journeyman always seems to make the podium. On the equipment front the Winder/North SM8/Cumulus took the construction title (totally unofficial).
2010 - Word was getting around that this venue was providing the racing and facilities that few could rival and the 54 entries reflected the enthusiasm. The conditions were classic Weymouth sun, wind and waves and Charlie Cumbley went one better to take the title with a 1-1-1-1-2. Matt Howard was honing his skills and finished second with Jim Hunt third. The Boon/North ST1/D+ took the construction bragging rights.
2011 - A forecast of strong winds did not deter the 47 sailors and the conditions on day one were fabulous. Day two dawned windy but the race management know that anyone who rocks up to the venue of the 2012 Olympics must be able to handle such conditions so out we went. What followed was a heavy airs master class from Matt Howard 1-1-1-1-1 who took the win from Jim Hunt (who won race 5) and Michael Sims. The Boon/North ST1/D+ continued to be the winners choice.
2012 - With the club ramping up the on and off course organisation ahead of the Olympics there was a great turnout of 43 National Solos’ to contest the fifth running of the Nigel Pusinelli Trophy. Michael Sims took a hard earned win with a score line of 1-1-2-2-5 with legend Tim Law second and Cliff Crawshaw third. The weekend was especially memorable for the squall that ripped through the fleet on day 2 and the resultant torn quadriceps as we tried to keep our Solos’ flat and upright. The Winder/P+B/D+ took the constructors title.
2013 - Post Olympics and the fleet were reduced to 37 by a poor forecast giving the WPNSA secretary a heart attack thinking that no one would turn up. Windguru’s very accurate forecast team and the National Solos’ historical lack of pre-entering are just two reasons not to want to be the caterer at an event where the forecast is 1 mph and the Solos’ are coming. Fortunately the weather enabled four races in light to moderate winds and Andy Tunnicliffe 1-2-4 took the trophy home with Tim Law once again second and Michael Sims third. The Winder/Goacher/D+ took the construction rights.
2014 - 35 entries, sun and wind, a backdrop of the Jurassic coastline and enough changing rooms for one each, what is not to like. Charlie Cumbley 1-1-1-2-2 came back to the scene of his 2010 win and repeated it ahead of the young pretender, Pete Mitchell and the ever consistent Michael Sims third. The construction title went to the Speed Mk 5.5/North SK1/D+.
2015 - 48 entries, classic Weymouth westerly winds of F3-5 and the yellow leader vest of Andy Tunnicliffe stood out in the sunshine. A score of 1-1-2-4-4 was enough to secure the title from Andrew Wilde and Chris Brown. Wilde was unlucky, when leading a critical race he failed to realise the course had been shortened, losing vital positions. The constructors title went to Winder/Impact Marine
2016 - 47 entries raced in unusually fickle f2 westerly winds, the tide playing an important role in tactics. Mike Sims took his second Pusinelli title with a scoreline of 1-1-3-4-6 in the P+B powered Winder 2. Laser hotshot Jack Hopkins took second from Pete Mitchell.
2017 The Nigel Pusinelli Trophy moved to Hayling Island and the home fleet bolstered the entry to a whopping 63 competitors. The wind gods also assisted with sunshine and f3-5 all weekend. Charlie Cumbley took the victory with a scoreline of 1-1-1-1-1 in the Winder 2/North P2 with Oliver Davenport and Chris Brown joining him on the podium. This was Chris’s third top 3 since it’s inception.
2018 A strong wind forecast reduced the entry at WPNSA to 36 and Richard Lovering announced his arrival in the Solo class with a winning score of 1-1-1-1-4. Salcombe’s Tim Law was second, also his third second place at the event (2012-2013) from Pete Mitchell. The constructors title went to Winder/Hyde. Force 4-6 from the west and going left paid all weekend.
Pic; Peter Hickson
Below is an extract on the wind and tide conditions at WPNSA, provided by sailing God, Jim Saltonstall MBE
340-020 degrees: Shifty! The numbers game on the compass again. High land blocks the wind coming over Castle Cove, so the wind shifts up around the windward mark area can be up to 60 degrees. Down in the leeward mark area they are only 20 degrees - don't get to the laylines early!
020-090 degrees: Go Left! There is convergent breeze to the left-of-middle, with a possible header on starboard as you go into the left hand side, and lifts out on port as you sail off the north shore.
090-160 degrees: This is the most stable direction in the harbour, in both direction and velocity
160-220 degrees: The worst direction, with the wind coming around both sides of the Bill, as well as over the top. As you approach the windward mark area, standby to be capsized from above! What is critical now, is the position of the windward mark in relation to the Bill. If the windward mark is more to the left, expect more lifts on port tack, with the wind coming around the eastern side of the Bill. If the windward mark is more to the right, expect lifts on starboard with the wind coming more around the western side.
220-280 degrees: Go Left! There is more breeze that way, because of the convergence on the left-hand side of the course, around the northern edge of the Bill. If the windward mark is close to the northern edge of the Bill, be aware of a right hand shift lifting starboard tack, as the wind bends around the northern edge.
280-340 degrees: Left-of-middle normally pays as there is a divergence of wind on the south side of the course; however, the tide can now play an important part in your race strategy as you will see when we talk about the tide in the harbour.
In Portland harbour, the tide is mainly significant during spring tides. Its effect can be felt mainly near the entrances across the tide range, and also near the bridge up in the north-west corner of the harbour. The flood tide travels across the harbour from east-to- west, and clockwise around its western side up to the bridge. During the ebb, it travels across the harbour from west-to-east and anti-clockwise around the western side of the harbour, so be careful with your laylines in the lighter wind races.
A good sea breeze will develop in the bay given the following conditions: Early morning whilst jogging prior to breakfast(!), there is a light north- westerly blowing with a clear blue sky. Then by approximately 1100-1200, cumulus clouds start to develop over the land. Thereafter, expect the sea breeze to come in. The initial direction is usually 160 degrees, backing to approximately 140 degrees as it builds, then veering with the sun as the day gets older. It should end the afternoon at approximately 240 degrees. So in the afternoon, protect the starboard side of the course!
Comment from your author
“Ok, so no reason not to get your tactics right, make a nice little pocket of space to leeward with 5 seconds to go, lift your centreboard slightly, drop the cunningham so you don't go into irons and power off the line in the right direction. Try and start close to someone you know doesn’t pinch too high and hike as hard as you can for the first 5 minutes. Keep your head out of the boat and follow your pre race strategy, it’s not the time to second guess yourself.”
Comment from the NSCA President Doug Latta
“The National Solo continues to be one of the most closely raced single handers in the UK, with a rich heritage of over 62 years racing to it's name. Linking the early Solo to the modern day version are a long line of enthusiastic and competitive sailors, Nigel Pusinelli being one of those who loved the boat and achieved some outstanding results - not least winning the Veterans prize 5 times between 1975 and 1982. The Class honours his memory, with the annual Pusinelli Trophy - this year running as a prelude to the National Championships at Weymouth & Portland National Sailing Academy which will take place in August. After experiencing probably the windiest conditions I've sailed my Solo in last year at WPNSA when gusts topped out at 37 knots, I'm hoping for some more sensible sailing breezes and close racing! ”
Reason’s to be Cheerful
Following some feedback from the members the NSCA have extended the early bird entry fee for one more week to £50. You can also enter on the day for £60 so it really does pay to pre enter via the Solo site web collect system.
The committee have also decided to keep the format to a single fleet series rather than splitting into flights if we reach a target of 60 entries. There does seem to be a strong feeling that big fleet racing is one of the main draws of the class. There will be a system in place to divide the results into gold / silver and bronze if numbers are sufficient and prizes for the top 3 in each category as well as Junior/ Lady / Veteran/ Grand Master and Septimus.
If you have not been to WPNSA before you will be in for a treat, launching is a dream and the facilities and sailing area are…Olympian.
As well as on the water jury there will be media support from myself so you can be famous for 15 seconds or infamous if your naughty.
With 27 pre entries and many who were maybe considering attending but put off by the thought of being consigned to the bronze flight, there is really no reason not to attend.
Please get your entries in and do attend the Saturday evening dinner at the club, even if just to listen to my day 1 race report.
See you on the water.