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Solo Nigel Pusinelli Trophy at the WPNSA - Day 1

by Will Loy 15 Jun 21:25 BST 15-16 June 2019
Ian Hopwood hiking hard on day 1 of the Nigel Pusinelli Trophy at the WPNSA © Will Loy

So we return to the home of UK Olympic sailing, WPNSA and the legacy that was left behind from 2012 is still evident everywhere I look. I drive across the causeway passing what I suppose are the next generation of Olympians as they start their early morning run and ponder on my own pre race warm up... full English thank you very much. One new addition to the complex is the pending arrival of a Lidl which is being built in the overflow car park. Only took seven years for the planning application to be accepted.

The dinghy park is filling up with both Solos and Europes, it is a shared event and quite welcome as it will provide me with some variety from behind the lens of my Fuji S1. An interesting development within the Solo class appears to be the building fleet of camper vans that competitors are rocking up in, Chris Brown the latest addition to the camper members club. I guess the benefit of having easy access to a toilet comes to us all as we reach a certain age.

There is the usual buzz around the luxurious expanse of the dinghy park as sailors greet each other with handshakes and the exchange of medical histories. There is still some youth in the class and not surprisingly at the front of it in the guise of Oli Davenport and Jack Hopkins, OK, not that young but the Solo demographic is substantially higher, while other such as Guy Mayger try to hold on to their youth with the addition of reverse snap backs

Ex Solo sailor Paul Kimmens will be our PRO and at this gaff is a no mean feat. Paul explained the course to me while sipping on a cappuccino, trapezoid with the Europes using the outer loop. I nodded in agreement but this clearly did not reach my face as he then went on to explain it in World Sailing detail. I stifled a yawn and turned my attention to conditions out in Weymouth harbour. The wind direction was from 201 degrees and tracking right while the average speed was just shy of 20 knots. Gusts of 24 were rolling across the course area while on the beach the competitors readied their steeds for the battle ahead.

With heavy rain and strong winds enveloping Weymouth, the PRO, under the direction of both fleets, had postponed the start sequence for 1 hour, clearly, nobody who still had hair wanted it to get it wet. I joined the race team on the lottery funded Gin Palace and motored out to the battlefield as the sun attempted to soften the charcoal grey sky. Fog held it's ground over the headland towards Bournemouth and another band of cloud and pressure rolled into the arena. The fleets stood onshore, faces etched with different degrees of trepidation, clearly calibrated by their body mass. What I perceived as giant butterflies hovered overhead while on the water and oblivious to my wandering imagination the kiteboarders zig-zagged across each other in a 21st century version of chicken. The committee boat is indeed a fine vessel, wide and stable and more powerful than it looks, the 350cc twin engines providing quite a punch. It also offers a comfortable sitting position, so many parallels with the Solo then. For the sailors though, comfort would not be an emotion they would experience for a number of hours. I should mention that, ordinarily, I would have been stationed on a safety/media rib or ideally on the Jury rib. Clearly, the rescue teams could be kept busy if the wind did not abate... and anyway, Hoppy was sailing so a capsize was surely a given. Unfortunately the jury rib refused to take me aboard on the absurd grounds that my inclusion would cause too much additional wash...With that rebuttal I purchased a second pasty from the canteen which would comfort me as I pondered another diet.

Race 1

20 knots recorded on the anometer and the course resembled a field of snow white sheep playing hide and seek. Fortunately the Europes were being put to the sword first and the start sequence provided a few minutes relief by which time the wind had dropped to 14 knots. Shane McCarthy, who had tried to pertain a race team picnic beforehand was U flagged... just saying! At the top of the 0.8 nautical mile beat it was Vince Horey who led, hitting the left had paid handsomely and I did explain this strategy to plenty of sailors earlier... they are though, used to my BS.

Dave Lucas and Class President Doug Latta were on his tail as the remainder rounded close. The wind strength was down to 12 knots, and Horey remained in control as they rounded at the leeward gate though his expression alluded to one of doom. Tom Gillard had taken a handful of places down the run and I mean Jim Hunt kind of hands so he was up to second with Lucas and Latta continuing to excel.

A fair split up the second beat saw the sailors fully hiked and searching for, 1. the windward mark, 2. more speed and 3. the physical resources to achieve targets 1 and 2.The wind direction was at 230 which is pretty much THE perfect direction here at Weymouth. The luckless McCarthy had rounded in the top ten, oblivious to his U flag humiliation and dreaming of a lunch containing potatoes, the national dish of Ireland don't you know. I waved my A4 sheets as he headed back upwind in a feeble attempt to alert him but his eyes were focused on target 1 and 2 and glory...the reality would be gory.

At the finish it would be Gillard from Hopkins, Oli Davenport, Dave Lucas and Horey who,s earlier expression had been realised.

Race 2

The PRO staggered the start sequence by 3 minutes to ensure separation of the fleets, the leading Solos had caught the Europe back markers but keep that quiet from the Yardstick Committee.

All clear with Ian Hopwood popping out of the middle of a slightly saggy line. Hoppy can never be accused of not being punchy on the start line, a trait honed from years in the scrum I guess. It can end in tears and he has tally of BFds is nearly as strong as Mr Cranford Smiths but this time he was on the money. Davenport led at the top with Gillard, McCarthy, Hopwood and Chris Brown completing the top five. The fleet rounded behind, gold and silver shards atop a silver sea. As Gary Hoyt explained in his book 'Go for Gold', "there is gold in them hills" but today it was the silver sail of Gillard that would reap the riches with his prowess of the aqua moguls.

I admit to exaggerating the sea state which appeared pretty flat from my pitch on the upper tier of HMS Weymouth but I was short of material from my mooring.

Gilly moved through into the lead down the last run with Davenport contemplating another Monday morning beating from Pinnell. McCarthy exonerated himself from his race 1 atrocity with a third with Hopwood and Brown completing a strong top 5.

Race 3

Wind back up to 16 knots and many of the fleet chose the left of the course, no surprise I am sure to Jim Saltonstall MBE. The race turnaround was slick and got me wondering if they were hoping for an invite to Tokyo in 2020, to be fair, this team would do a sterling job and a credit to WPNSA. That said, it could all turn to crap tomorrow!

Hopwood led at the top mark, his race 1 equipment failure dead to him now and powered down the run with Lucas, Jonny Wells, Ewan Birkin Walls and Nigel Davies filling the top slots. Hopwood extended on the fleet but it was Gillard who improved the most to round second with a posse of talented sailors including Hopkins, Lovering and Walls in close pursuit... Chris Brown was there too.

At the completion of the trapezoid it was Gillard who took his third bullet of the day with Davenport again second, the result at least providing him with a few more days employment. McCarthy also did the double with his second 3rd place finish from Nigel Davies and Dave Lucas and could now sip his Guinness with quiet satisfaction.

So overnight the top five are Gillard, Davenport, McCarthy, Hopkins and Lovering, the discard is in place which is a surprise to me but a relief to Hopwood and McCarthy.

Tomorrow promises more of the same with a possible increase in rain and wind.

Results after Day 1:

PosSail NoHelmClubR1R2R3Pts
15675Thomas GillardSheffield Viking SC‑1112
25840Oliver DavenportNorthampton SC‑3224
35808Shane MacCarthyGreystones SC(UFD)336
45235Jack HopkinsHayling Island SC26‑178
55831Richard LoveringHayling Island SC/Whitstable YC‑74610
65834Chris BrownRYA65‑1111
75645Ian HopwoodNantwich SC(RET)7512
85835David LucasGrafham Water SC8‑21715
95851Roger GuessSalcombe YC4‑171216
105850Vincent HoreyKing George SC511‑2216
115115James BoycePapercourt SC‑109817
125782Nigel DaviesDraycote Water SC‑1714418
135827Ewan Birkin‑WallsGrafham Water SC9‑10918
145750David MitchellWarsash SC‑1981321
155130Mark LeeLymington Town SC1112‑1923
165755Graham CranfordSmithSalcombe YC1313‑1426
175561Tim LewisRYA12‑181830
185792David GreeningSalcombe YC14‑241630
194921Chris MayhewRoyal Harwich YC16‑191531
205597Jonathan WellsEssex YC‑26231033
215666Andrew BoycePapercourt SC1815‑2133
226000Doug LattaHayling Island SC/Portchester SC1522‑2437
235134Robert LaurieHarlow Blackwater SC2316‑2939
245745Andrew FoxLeigh & Lowton SC2220‑2742
255804Steve EdeArdleigh AC21‑252344
265596Ray CollinsLocks SC27‑292047
275715Nicholas MardenBough Beech SC24‑262549
285634Howard EdwardsPapercourt SC2030‑3250
295786John SteelsStarcross YC2527‑3152
305747Roger LumbySalcombe YC‑30282856
315354Robin MilledgeLymington Town SC(DNC)332659
325778Shaun WelshLymington Town SC29‑313059
335670Nigel ThomasHill Head SC28‑343361
345822Jonathan HillBough Beech SC3232‑3564
355560Charles StimpsonSpinnaker SC33‑353467
365846Paul TaskerChichester YC31(RET)DNC70
375063David NeweyPapercourt SC34‑363670
385137Derek MayhewRoyal Harwich YC(DNC)DNCDNC78

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