Can I also add my thanks for you taking the chair and also to Joe for the work he did. Similarly Martin Hartley has done a great job looking after the technical issues and keeping his patience with the RYA!
I haven't done much Sonata racing in the past few years due to work and dinghy commitments but hope to get back out in 2018 season. Saraband has however been used by a number of crews at Tarbert and elsewhere and I think this is something that others should consider.........there are lots of young and older potential Sonata sailors who can be trusted to race your boat if you cannot be available yourself. In my experience they always look after the boat, it comes back clean and with no damage. Insurance companies are fine with it so long as it is not a charter.
With regard to events......
1) The £100 bursary is a nice to have but has never been the decider on whether I decide to race or not. More importantly for me has been if there is sensibly priced (or free!) craning for visitors or a decent slipway if it is a fresh water venue. I really think we need to select those venues that get that sorted for visitors......in my experience Strangford, Sunderland, Whitby and Scarborough all got this right.....the Rhu (Clyde) lifts were expensive with little flexibility by the marina and I haven't sailed at any of the south or east coast venues to make any comment on those.
2) Personally I would suggest we stop the £100 bursary for the majority but increase it to £200 for anyone transiting the Irish Sea, in either direction. Someone suggested we should retain a bursary if there are a number of younger sailors and I could go with that idea.
3) I like 4 day nationals but accept that effectively you still need to take the Wednesday and Monday off if travelling.......which rather diminishes the case for not having the older week long format. Renting houses also easier on the week long events. I will go with the majority on this but probably would favour the week long format.
4) I typically sail with 2 male / 2 female and as such probably have less weight on the rail than many boats. Steve Goacher did once suggest that I should consider sailing 5 up, but that just gives me another crew to find plus increases the costs of travel, accommodation etc. As I have got better at sailing the Sonata it is possibly less of an issue than before, but there is definitely an issue at top end of #1 genoa but when the gap to changing to the #3 is too big. There are certainly times when I wish I had a #2 (not allowed) or that the #3 was re-designed to be a more powerful sail than currently allowed.........making it a proper blade #3 rather than a glorified working jib!
My 3/4 tonner, now sold, had a much easier transition from heavy #1 to blade # 3 with no noticeable gap in performance.
Other boats have updated their rigs and if properly managed and with due notice to allow people to budget for purchase there is little disadvantage to the fleet....for example the Flying Fifteens have decided to change their headsail and have ended up with a boat that looks better, goes well and apparently with lower sheet loads etc. We are ideally placed with Steve Goacher as our Technical Officer to manage such a trial and then adoption.
There is one Sonata on the south coast that has adopted a new blade #3 sail, supplied by Sanders, and sheeting to existing genoa tracks. This has resulted in a very favourable IRC rating when taken as the largest headsail. The owner, who's name I forget, reported that the boat sailed very well with it.
5) Two crew for racing seems to me to be a good idea and as others have said, carries little or no advantage in almost any of the conditions we race in.
6) I own race a number of dinghies and the two that are doing well at events and bringing in new members (RS300 and Hornets) seem to have the balance right......the websites provide technical information, classified adds, event calendars and information etc. The Facebook pages provide an unregulated forum for banter, abuse, chivying of attendance at events, loaning of equipment, provision of floor space for travelling crews etc. Both mediums are actively used and updated but have different purposes.
In contrast, The FD class has a much more tightly controlled website and Facebook environment, with posts moderated before posting, removing much of the banter and also delaying communication. It's not the only reason the class is failing in the UK but it certainly isn't helping......
The Scottish Sonata Facebook pages were started by the Old School team ( I think?) and have proved a great forum for getting people aware of events, sorting out boat loans, crews etc.
I would encourage the wider UK class to have a similar approach to the RS300 and Hornets communication, particularly the RS300, ......an active website to discuss formal / technical matters and the Facebook pages to create a wider social media presence for our class.