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Chris Bentley

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  1. Chris Bentley

    Press Article

    We got a puff in Yachting Life, the "Biggest Sailing Magazine North of the South". Should please you lot above Watford. I'm not sure if it was on the streets before Tarbert, but I put you in too. Chris YL Article.pdf
  2. Chris Bentley

    RYA National Sonata Class Page

    I have been co-operating with the RYA to update our Class page and the result is quite pleasing. See http://www.rya.org.uk/racing/national-classes/Pages/hub.aspx Also, RYA have overhauled their procedures for dealing with membership and measurement to avoid last-minute rushes prior to, eg, a National Champs which are sensible changes. An edited text from them is copied below. We have also had press coverage of the recent Inlands at Windermere and in Yachts & Yachting Sportsboat feature, See ‘About the Sonata’ on this site.
  3. Chris Bentley

    Info on simply Alto

    Welcome to Sonata Sailing! Here’s an extract from our records: Hull no. 232. 1990 listed as owned by Matheson Mosley of Poole. Jan 1995 listed as owned by Steve Brown of Poole. 1999 Dave and Maggie Horseford joined the NSA as new members. 2001 sold to Jim Barham. Last current owners listed as Chris Coote and Graham Bestley. I will ask our Secretary, Catherine, to update our records Chris Bentley
  4. Chris Bentley

    Class Development

    Peter, Thank you for your comments. Rest assured, you are not alone, there is a significant proportion of the existing Sonata fleet in a very similar position, for one reason or another. 25 years of ownership says a great deal about our wee boats. I count myself as one, having owned BFG since 1976. My current personal view is that there is absolutely no point in trying to sell BFG. I would get pence. I would far rather beach her until either the market picks up, which my plans are aimed at, or give her away. However, currently, BFG is in Poole because Sharon and my children live close by and they can use her which they have done. Our personal use has been limited to the Sonata Southerns, Seaview, Isle of Wight and the RTI this year. Bit of a reduction on our previous racing programme, hey-ho, age, other commitments, etc., impinge. I seriously do think we as a Class need to consider how we best proceed to ensure our survival for the next 40 years. It is not impossible. Others have done it and we have an excellent vehicle in the Sonata to achieve that. Sonatas are almost a "Classic", (not yet quite in the Classic Yachts definition), so lets go for "Iconic". As an aside, my youngest son raced in the re-formed Quarter Ton Cup recently in Cowes. World class competition. Most of those boats are custom-built for that event. Not far off a Sonata's dimensions, with an international following. His boat was an original, much modified, obviously. They got a second in the "Original" class. My point is that, Sonatas could, with some effort, generate something similar. It isn't hard, it requires effort on the part of your NSA Committee, we will do that, but most importantly, it requires the support of the Class. There is an appetite for racing "Classic Yachts", hopefully also "Iconic" yachts. Never more so than now. See the rise of, for example, the company, Classic Yachts of Ipswich, the growth of Classic events all around the UK, let alone, France where they have been doing this for years. As Sonatas, we might not entirely qualify as a "Classic", but we sure as hell qualify as "Iconic" amongst all of the 1970's GRP boats that were made then and have since vanished. My view of the Sonata Class is that we should adapt to the changed needs of our current members by allowing, for example, a 2 - crew minimum. On the other hand, at a racing level, we, NSA, should not do anything that precludes the Sonata as a completely one-design boat. When my Committee have assembled their opinions I will be communicating with the whole Class, well, as many of them as I can via email, to inform them of what we propose. The tone of the email will be along the lines of what we, NSA, can do to ensure the survival, hopefully, growth of Sonatas not only as race boats but as fab little cruising boats, as evidenced by some tales in our "Yarns" section here. Chris
  5. Chris Bentley

    Class Development

    Your current Chair here again with another long one. I have started a new topic because this is a separate, if linked subject to my previous post. Please continue to respond to that. This post is about how we might alter some rules to increase our appeal. It has been prompted by feedback and personal observation. There are issues. The first, that I am sure will prompt adverse comments from the keen racing fraternity is that the suggestions below, and they are only suggestions, are potentially aimed at altering the "ethos" of the Sonata Class, dividing those who can/want to compete at top racing level away from a sort of "Club Class" that is more of a Cruiser Fun Race level. Well, I don't think so, but I stand to be corrected. Going back, Dave Thomas designed the Sonata as a 'family' boat, capable of family cruising as well as racing, hence the "toilet and cushion" rules we still retain, plus the fact it won't plane because he stuck a big Vee in the hull shape aft of the keel. That was the original ethos. It has changed, over the years, mostly because what he actually designed was a very cute One Design race boat, that's how it has developed, particularly in later years. Actually, I think, where the Class is at, is that it has generated a core of very dedicated and supportive racing members, the most dedicated of whom travel to race events, another tranche who race competitively at Club level, don't travel much, and, behind them, there surely are a much larger bunch, there were 400 plus made, who are still owners but either potter with their boats or have abandoned them to barns or yards where they languish. This last, large group are not NSA Members, why should they be? A big difficulty is finding them and the boats and being able to communicate with them. I have a plan for that. How then might we further encourage my previous post's aim of at least halting the decline of NSA membership, that, undoubtedly being key to the Class survival? Not boasting, but, look around, any surviving class has an active Association behind it. You need us, to keep the Sonata Class alive for the next 40 years. My prevous post touched on the difficulty, these days, of sourcing a 4-person crew for a small, not particularly sexy boat to either regularly race Club or do Events over an extended number of days. SUGGESTION 1. Reduce the min number of racing crew to two. (Retain the upper limit of 5 plus the requirement to start and finish any "Event" with the same number of crew). To enable this, allow a furling headsail and, possibly, also, self-tailing winches. What this would do is allow the possibility. Certainly, I think, let couples race at Club level as a man and wife/partner team, pair of mates, without disadvantage and in control. Sail technology regards furlers has moved on massively. Dragons have always had furling headsails. Financial advantage is one sail opposed to two. Financial disadvantage is one-off cost of a furler, self-tailers, if that too. Race advantage, well, who knows? The classic dilemma at the warning signal, 1 or 2 would be eliminated. Roll it in or out all around the race course at will. Our rules state that "If it doesn't say you can, then you cannot". Put in "Can" to furlers and, maybe, self-trailers, 2 min crew and nobody has to do it, but they could if they wanted to. There was, I think, a perception that bilge keel Sonatas were of inferior performance to fin keels. That was squashed at the Poole Nationals. Maybe the same might apply to furlers. SUGGESTION 2. Introduce a "blade" sail between 1 and 2. The original sail plan of a Sonata allows an intermediate sail, see Rules, not, visibly, a blade, nonetheless. The gap between 1 and 2, which is effectively a working jib, would be bridged with a sail that a lighter, maybe smaller crew could manage in over 12 knots. We all know that the decision to carry a #1 in marginally heavy airs is taken more on the basis of the ability of the crew to still tack quickly than keeping the boat on its feet. Sail controls and a beefy, experienced crew enable that, in my experience, and, if you are fortunate enough to have such a crew, you will always err on the side of the #1 because it is quicker. I know I have been stuck with a #1 up in ridiculous amounts of wind because of that decision making process. But what about the lighter, less experienced crews? Again, it's introducing a possibility. You don't have to buy one, or use one. Financially, it brings more expense but this could be balanced by using the #1 less, making it last more than one season. It's an alternative to suggestion 1 above. I have become involved in some Classic Yacht racing recently. In the Sonata we almost have a "Classic". Believe me when I say that the competition is as intense as on any other race course but owners have adapted and improved their craft with modern technology and equipment to keep them competitive and manageable by, often, family crews. That thinking might be usefully employed by us to encourage, or, re-encourage membership and participation. Please let me have your thoughts. Chris
  6. Chris Bentley

    Class Development

    Absolutely, Euan. I have a fond, no, wrong word, lasting memory of you vanishing off on Port tack into the mists of the Clyde whilst us lot, Mark, Steve and various others pursued what we calculated to be the correct tactic of getting closer to the windward mark on Elvestrom's theory, only to discover, when we eventually got back in sight of each other that your 'flyer' had got you a lead of several hundred yards! I never did get the hang of racing on the Clyde but Sharon and I had a great time trying. I sure have no intention of threatening the OD status, just suggesting ways it might be made more accessible. Chris
  7. Chris Bentley

    An Important Class Message

    Here is an update on the above two topics. Fleet Reps. I now have three including, importantly, a Medway one promised. More needed, please. Shirts. I have found a uniform/sportswear company who do a large range of suitable clothing, tees, polos, rugby, fleeces, etc. They will put our overall design on anything, post it on their website for us to individually order off with personalisation if required. Sounds very simple to me. If the costs are ok, I will organise that. Sailplan/NSA Sonata. These are two big topics and I need a bigger spread of oipinion. I have now got the membership database from Catherine and will email it to point members at this forum. Also I have written a "begging letter" to SBS Trailers to see what we might be able to buy one for, imperative for the NSA boat and potentially, a killer expense. Subs. Whilst mailing the whole membership, I will include a plan for paying these at a new rate and in a new way. I need our Committee's approval for this, so, wait and see. Also, the opportunity to buy flags, car/boom stickers. Windermere Winter Opportunity: initially raised by Catherine and I have subsequently chatted to Stephen McGibbon, Secy of the Winderemere Cruising Association, who for 40 years have run the Windermere Winter Series and is keen to invite Sonatas. Could be our "Inlands" this winter. Also, probably the only opportunity to trial either a blade jib or a furler against our existing rig before next season. Plus, we need some PR output ASAP and it would be that too. How about it, chaps? Stephen said that there are "normally a good showing of Sonatas", the SBS 20's are having a Championship within the WWS, sounds very good to me. Photos Reminder. Please have a search. What I need to make a "Gallery Page" on the website is hi-res pictures for Press Use. "Lifts" from electronic media don't work for printed press. They should be either pro or very good pics that portray Sonatas well. I can receive them in a variety of ways. If pro, I will need to either credit the taker or pay a fee to use. They are out there, Jack has used lots of them on the site here, but, again, all at lo-res. On the Membership Database is a description and brief history of every boat listed. Would that be of interest to have published? I must admit, I had no idea we had that. It's an archive, also useful for a potential purchaser to find out the history of a boat. I would make it accessible so current owners could add or amend if necessary, bit like Wikipedia. Any comments?
  8. Chris Bentley

    An Important Class Message

    You will pardon me if I witter on a bit. This is my, personal view of us, backed by research of comparable classes and industry trends. What I hope is to prompt the Class into reacting to my suggestions and comments and come up with other ideas. We, in my opinion, have not been very good at communicating with each other about such stuff, let alone telling the world what we are up to. I am using the website rather than social media for this sort of discussion for good reason. It is then all in one, easily accessible and threadable place. Facebook, et al, is great, but for different reasons and applications. Hope you agree. Let me set out where I think the Sonata Class is at, with some questions for you, then make some suggestions as to where we go next. First, the negatives: We have experienced a decline in membership of the NSA, not huge, but a steady decline over the past few years. Most subs only get paid prior to a Nationals. Recently, particularly, the value of our boats has dropped through the floor, in common with a lot of similar-sized boats that fall into the category of older GRP craft. Area race events are not well attended if they happen at all. (This is common to other similar one design classes). Area fleet sizes are, in the main, diminishing with previously growing numbers declining or almost vanishing. This has left us with geographically separated pockets of boats who race each other in Club one-design starts if numbers suffice or in handicap starts if not. On the positive side: Nationals are still well attended. We compare well with our peer classes. Poole included a separate start for twin-keels, who did very well and initiated a joining up of the Class as a whole. The social, racing and camaraderie experienced at all the Nationals I have attended, (first one, 2004), is magnificent. The message that a Sonata can be trailed, whilst previously only well known to a few, is spreading and travelling is increasing. More people own trailers. We have an age profile spanning several decades and we are far from becoming an old buffers Class. Our strict one-design rules and RYA National Class status, not to mention hard work by the NSA, has stood us in good stead over the years and, as a Class, we have survived in a period when others have perished. We have a steady flow of new owners demonstrated by used boat sales. Questions to debate: Since the 2012 AGM at Medway, when the £100 travel bursary was introduced, we have seen a reasonably strong participation at Nationals, less so at area events, the recent Southerns attracted only 5 boats, a great shame as Seaview, Isle of Wight, was very, very good on all counts. The Northerns, anything on the Lakes, have not taken place for a while now. Today's time-critical lifestyles mean that few are prepared to sacrifice work time, despite NSA Nationals becoming four-day events over a weekend and areas, just a weekend long. We discussed this at the AGM. There are arguments in either direction. On the one hand, a Thursday - Sunday event limits the number of work days sacrificed, although adding a day either end for travellers involves another two work days 'lost'. A 5 day, weekday, event involves one more work day but leaves the weekends either side for travelling, possibly a nicer option for family crews. Which do you prefer for Nationals? What about Areas? There are arguments for and against the Bursary. Some say it is unfair because it only benefits the travelling racing proportion of the Class. Should we therefore continue to award it at all? Would we have had less numbers at race events over the past 5 years if we had not instituted it? Given that non-racing or non-travellers get no equivalent supplementary benefit, should we continue with it and/or come up with a matching benefit for everyone else? We increased the membership fee to £25, again in 2012. Has that contributed to the declining numbers or would it have happened anyway? Owners who do not travel to race events get no obvious benefit from their sub. Should we reduce the membership fee? If we hope to at least arrest the decline in membership, maybe reverse it, what sort of people should we be trying to attract? The definition of 'a Cruiser' is now larger than ever, a 42ft boat is considered relatively small. RYA and British Marine stats endorse this. As a marina owner, I can too. Also, dinghy numbers are in decline, (same sources), particularly two-handed craft. The trend is towards more single-handers. Paddle boarding is a growth area. Even the recent Fastnet had more two-handed boats than ever before. This tells us three things: Those who can afford a 'cruiser' demand size, comfort like never before. They are not in the market for a Sonata alone, although quite a few of our owners also own other boats. Dinghy sailors, even the above mentioned cruiser owners are choosing to single-hand or short-crew likely because the difficulty of sourcing crew and time constraints mean it is the best option to get afloat. A 22ft keelboat that needs 4 crew to race it effectively and its own (relatively expensive) deep-water mooring is not that attractive to a young dinghy sailor. The perceived "step-up" for a dinghy sailor to a Sonata may, in fact, be a rare occurrence. Take a look at our members, quite a few of them own Sonatas as a second boat, the other one a Family Cruiser, or racing dingy. They divide their time between the two, can afford to do so. New entrants to our sport are increasingly choosing highly portable one-person craft. Paddle boards fulfil this perfectly as they also require few skills to mange getting afloat. Kite surfing provides a lot of the young thrills with the whole kit in a bag that single handed dinghies and windsurfers did. These are trends, of course, and Class dinghies, some Class keelboats are doing well in specific areas or within specific classes. Looking around at the Poole and Strangford Nationals, there was a mix of ages spanning decades. There was a mix of owners who had owned their boats for decades but a few who had bought a boat off E-Bay, re-rigged it and sold it on afterwards. Not easy to define a typical Sonata owner! So, what can we (I) do to increase the appeal of Sonatas, or, at least, maintain the status quo? Looking at other classes: (a few examples) (The classes that have done well in terms of boat value, increased ownership, strong allegiance): Amongst these are, let's call them keelboats with 'cachets'. Often older than Sonatas. Often wooden. Examples being Dragons, (International Class that has developed via changing to GRP construction and rule changes). XOD's. A Solent Class that thrives on heritage, (wooden, local design, boat) Any local dayboat Class that has been adopted by a club or a bunch of local owners who restore them at massive expense. Examples are, Seaview Mermaids, ROCODs and RBODS, respectively, they being the One Design Classes on the River Crouch, now, obsessively raced by old, definitely, old, EORA offshore owners in the river. I should mention that the value of any of the above is in the many thousands, often, tens of thousands. Contessa 26, Folkboats. Fifteens, Melges. For a variety of reasons, these classes are thriving. Those who haven't done so well: The comparable, age/construction GRP classes: 7o7s, Sigmas, Impalas, Sadlers, Trappers. Loads of different smaller classes. Where are they now? Check their websites. It was a function of too many different designs hitting the 70s/80s market at once. Same happened with dinghies a bit later. Where does that leave Sonatas? We have a '70's GRP design, miles away from today's high-tec possibly, foiling classes, so we cannot compete with those who can afford to run a hi-tech dinghy or sportsboat on a 'thrill' level. Or with the more "Classic" one designs who's owners are prepared to spend fortunes on restoring. Nevertheless, we, because of the boat design and because of the strict application of the one-design rules, have ended up with several advantages in today's market. It remains one of the safest, strongest, seaworthy boats of its size. It is relatively quick and will out-pace and certainly out-point much larger boats of similar vintage and younger. Good performance, then, except it doesn't plane, but then, neither do Dragons, Contessas, etc. The inability to plane, oft raised as a Sonata big disadvantage, is a side issue, in my opinion. 7o7s, Bulls, Corks, Projections do plane, but where are they now? It is very much a one-design, rules have always been constructed to avoid 'cheque-book' sailing. Great 'Bangs for Bucks' too, especially right now. There are still plenty of them. Their longevity was attested at the Poole Nationals, for example, where old hulls were revitalised and re-rigged into competitive boats for little expense. It is instructive to check out www.sailboatdata.com which lists hundreds of boats by designer, builder, etc and quotes numbers built. Sonata's at c400, have more than quite a few. Which means that NSA Membership at c50 only represents an eighth of the Sonatas out there somewhere. We have the finances to back up almost anything we want to do to bolster the Class (see 2016/7 Accounts). Put your thinking caps on, then, and feed me some ideas. Here's five from me to get you started: Appoint a rep for each Fleet to regularly update me via email on Fleet activities. The world needs to know what we are up to. I will promulgate it to wherever necessary. A PR exercise. List your Fleet to me, boats, owners, state of play, (declining/growing), members of NSA or not. I need a picture of who I will be talking to. Help me track down Sonata owners who are not NSA members. I can't persuade them to join if I don't know them. I would rather persuade, but in fact our Class Rules are completely clear, if you race a Sonata type boat in any race at all where your status/handicap is based on your boat conforming to the Class Rules and are not an NSA member, your boat is NOT a Sonata. Every Nationals at least has a shirt. I made a Medway Fleet shirt some years ago. Would you like a National Sonata shirt, personisable by event, boat, even shirt type/colour but a consistent design to promote the Class as a whole? Advantages of bulk buying would apply. Initial bulk purchase maybe subsidised by NSA Funds. A merchandising exercise with PR benefits. A benefit for our non-racers. Give an "Earlybird" discount to £10 for subs received by 31st Jan 2018.w Get posting!
  9. Chris Bentley

    Class Development

    Thanks, Nat, You obviously are keeping a close eye on our website, brill, wish I could say the same about a lot of others. Hey Ho! I take your points. Agree with them. Just remind me where you sail from, you are exactly the sort of chap I desperately need to feed me info and stuff from your area. Up for it? If Tiger Rag is the same boat as I knew, here's a bit of history for you, if you don't already know it. First I knew her was as a Medway boat, one Mike Clarke, that, probably 15 years ago. Next was Sandy Woodward, he of Desert Storm fame, he was the man. He kept her in Chichester Harbour at Sparkes Marina. I raced against him at Cowes. On one memorable occasion when I had rights on him at a mark, I asked for "room". ("Water" in those days). He responded "You have enough". As he could, in all probability, have summoned an Exocet from Portsmouth to make his point, I shut up and clipped the rounding mark as close as I dared. Smashing bloke, I have a couple more stories about our encounters, unfortunately, as I was strongly advised by his crew, Naval officers to a man, subject to the Official Secrets Act. No idea who you bought her from. If, indeed, the same boat, add it to your archive! Chris
  10. Chris Bentley

    An Important Class Message

    Thanks all of you that took the trouble to respond. Excellent ideas. Let me try to rationalise the way forward, based on your comments: 1. PUBLICITY. Agreed we need more. (Any!) 2. SUBS. My best solution is a Standing Order, payable early, attracting a discount down to £20 3. FLEET REPS. None of you touched on this save Chris Halewood, who offered himself 4. SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE. Shirts, boom stickers, Sonata flags, car/trailer anywhere stickers yes. NSA can do this. 5. BURSARY. My choice is to leave it as is. If individual owners don't want to claim, some don't, fair does 6. NSA BOAT. Mentioned by Gareth. I have ideas. Needs more discussion 7. LENGTH OF EVENTS. See MYC plans for 2018 Nationals. Hope that's summarised where we are at on the points above. Let me add detail as necessary. 1. PUBLICITY. Yes to a pro, or at least, good amateur photographer at Nationals and Areas, Scottish Series, Cowes, RTI. Some of these may have covered with their event photographers, to whom we need access. NSA can fund the taking. Individuals can buy prints or digital direct. I will talk to Jack about setting up a Gallery page on the website which the Press, or any of us, can access hi-res pics from. Meanwhile, out there with you lot, and many others, resides a whole archive of pics, personal and taken by pros in the past, see this website for an example, and if you give me access to them, they go in the Gallery. Do it now. Information. I am not Houdini. I cannot conjour race reports, event stories, out of thin air, especially if I am not there, which I won't be most of the time. I need text as well as pics. After an event, or even during, I need it fast, like, in hours, if I have any chance of getting media attention. To achieve that, I need the area reps as 3 above, and a fair few volunteers, please, you out there. Access to me is easy, text, email, most document formats acceptable. I have the media access, expertise to achieve it, just need you to feed me stuff. 4 and 5, SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE AND BURSARY. Implies an expenditure by NSA which will need to be costed properly, but fear not on two counts: NSA is quite well off. The Treasurer is sitting right next to me. Given my Committees approval, I see no problem. 6. NSA BOAT. Interesting that Gareth raised this. We, NSA, have a possible boat FOC. Needs work to restore. Currently in Cornwall. My problems devolve, right this minute to three: I cannot, currently, persuade a Sonata Club to take it on, "responsibility" is quoted Even if I can persuade sailmakers, trailer/mast manufacturers, various other suppliers to subsidise its renovation, no takers yet, why not look at NSA buying a complete boat at, say, £1500, which is what they are out there valued at instead? A Sonata is not a particularly cheap boat to keep. There's moorings, insurance and maintenance. Currently, again, and have tried a few avenues, no takers to subsidise, offer freebies. if any of you can suggest differently, I would be delighted to hear from you. If, and only if, we could solve some of the above, the major value to the Class would be PR/Publicity. A cracking story, worthy of much media attention, which I would ensure it got. If I added in "introducing young persons into sailing, maybe, disabled/disadvantaged persons, the PR value would escalate. There are many sailing organisations out there, doing that right now. But, as far as I am aware, mostly with bigger boats. A Sonata is "grass roots" at its best. A USP, then. 7. LENGTH OF EVENTS. Patently, MYC have decided on the 5-day, weekday, format. A departure from recent Nationals. The dates are 20th - 24th August, weekdays. Let's see how they do with that. I need to move fast on all the above, if it is to have value. I need to talk to a whole lot more Sonata owners to get it right. If you have read this and not responded, please take a minute to do so. If you have responded and this is the result, feel free to endorse or condem. If you know of others who would be interested, persuade them to respond. I cannot work in a vacuum, people, I need you to take part. Chris
  11. Chris Bentley

    Well Done Jack!

    In the interests of communication I have repeated my message to Jack here, it was first posted in the Web Matters Forum just now. Hope you all agree. "Thanks, Jack, for a nice fresh, clean site. I only hope we can persuade members to use it more. Chris" In the interests of the last sentence, I am about to use our Facebook page to do similar and re-draw attention to our website, particularly the Forums, where, I think, we are under-utilising a great asset. If you agree, join me and others in our Forum posts. Now that Jack has taken the trouble, entirely off his own bat I suspect, to give us a significant new look, we should support the site by increasing our participation. I appreciate the value Facebook, I really do, but our website has always been first class, a huge resource, a great means of communication and, I hesitate, but something more professional and serious than Facebook, befitting a now fairly senior Class Association and a National Class to boot. Good heavens, do you appreciate that the Sonata is a whisker away from becoming a "Classic Yacht" in terms of the Classic Yacht Association GB's rules? We have the age, well, some of us do. True, we are not made of wood with long overhangs bow and stern, nether do we have a gaff. But then, neither do some of the other "Classic" boats that I raced with across the Channel this Summer. It's a thought, isn't it? Dave Thomas would have been really chuffed to know that his fag-packet sketch for a 'family cruiser' could ever consider that. I might have a go at it. Me and my boat qualify on age, me especially, not sure how CYA GB might view my hull shape and rig, but, whatever, the parameters might be flexible! Chris
  12. Hello all fellow Sonatas. I am just wondering if anyone will read this soon, or at all, because the post before this one is dated 2015. Lets see. You might remember me. I was your Chairman for four years before Joe and I have just returned to the fray after a wee rest of 3 years with BFG by doing the RTI and the Poole Nationals. We are about to do the Southerns, too. I have to admit, Sonatas are still a passion and I have enjoyed meeting all you new folk who have bought into the class since I last sailed and renewing old friendships with those whom we have done battle with in past years. Didn't much enjoy getting thrashed on the racecourse by strangers, but thats my fault for not keeping up practising. It is really great to see so many boats out with a lot of young crew, especially as they are a bit good at it. And well done Poole for organising such a brill and professional event. I have done a few regattas in my time and that one counts as one of the very best. Hats off, Poole, Joe, the team, the sponsors and especially hats off to the Sonata Class who, as I have always said, not only provide the best bangs for buck of any class I can think of anywhere in the world, they do it with style and at a very high level of racing. Long may it continue and prosper. However, to the topic of this post. I always tried hard to communicate with the Class when I was in charge. You can find a mass of posts and stories from me buried in this site. We now have the Facebook page too and mini websites like the Nationals one pop up and very quick and useful they are too. But this site, and a very good one it is too, thanks, Jack, should be more used in my humble opinion. Thats up to you guys. No input, no communication. How can we make it that you all scan Sonata.org.uk much more regularly and use it more? How can we make it like your online banking/Facebook which you look at every day? (week? you do look regularly, don't you) ? Suggestions please. To start something off, I have separately posted a couple of new topics here. Please join in the discussion, I don't want to end up a lonely old pensioner talking to himself! Chris
  13. Chris Bentley

    Sonatas and Electronics

    In the last couple of years particularly there has been a revolution in marine electronics. I caught up with this recently and was completely astonished by what information you can now get, real time, with an internet connection and a GPS antenna bolted to an iPad or equivalent. Add a couple of watch brands to the mix and you can not only navigate anywhere in the world by looking at your wrist, you can receive all sorts of information whilst sitting on the rail, ostensibly, checking the count down time. I last looked into this seriously some three years ago and those of you who read the posts at the time will remember that we altered our Class Rules to manage the technology then available. Now, its at a whole new level and, as a Class, we should be aware of this and, if necessary, adjust our rules again to account for it. I am not saying that any of it would necessarily provide a significant advantage on a Sonata race course, neither am I saying that anyone might be tempted to use it to gain advantage, albeit they could do it without anyone else realising what they were doing. Its just for the Class to be aware what is out there at very little expense and which way we might want to jump as a pure one design Class with an ethos of maintaining at least some of Dave Thomas's concept of a "family cruiser", toilet, cushions, etc. Comments please. Chris
  14. Chris Bentley

    History of the Class

    At the Poole AGM I sort of volunteered to become the Class Archivist. Not quite sure how I did that, it was a bit like becoming Chairman before. It just happened. I guess I am reasonably qualified as I bought BFG in the early 70s when Mike Owers was Chairman and he used to publish a six monthly Newsletter and send it out by snail mail to all the Class members. I still have those papers and a lot of other stuff too. There are some copies on this website, but theres more, a lot more. When I was chair, one of my stated ambitions was to try to trace every Sonata ever made by Hunters. Failed miserably, so maybe this is unfinished business. The major difficulty was that the boats get sold, often change names, vanish off the Associations radar, then pop up again with little to link them to their previous life apart from the hull number. Mike Owers did a cracking job recording what he knew in the 1990 Association Handbook. I have that. Of course it is wildly out of date, undoubtedly some Sonatas have gone to the great Sonata grave in the sky, more likely, the deep, as per a hull in Hong Kong which, in 1990, was occupied by a family of 14 who hot bunked it as living quarters in the typhoon harbour. But I bet a lot of them are still out there somewhere because, as we all know, they were built to last. So the first task is to update my list of hull numbers with current owners as far as poss, and that's where you come in, I need to know who owns what now. Yours, others in your Club or area, who you bought from, who you sold to. I will publish the list anon, meanwhile, please prepare your research. Thanks. Next, I can start adding an individual boat's history to its number, interesting and maybe valuable to you and any future buyer. Bit of a task, this, but I have modern technology to hand, so not impossible. Alongside this, and maybe even more valuable to the Class, prospective buyers, is a collection of history of what our little boats have achieved. Just the Yarns on this site give a flavour, but there are undoubtedly a lot more stories of derring do. A prospective buyer into the Class weighing up a Sonata v, say, a J24, might like to know that ours stand up in 40knts and if knocked flat, won't sink (sorry, J's, i know you have addressed this now). But you follow my drift. Here's another little gem to consider: we, some of us, may own a "Classic Yacht" in terms of the British Classic Yacht Club's definition of such in their Class Three category. I happen to have caught up with this having just raced a Cat 3 one, a Rival 34, in fact, the first one built, to Brest for a six day festival, which was awesome. Maybe, maybe not, but, we certainly own some old ladies, theres never ever going to be another Sonata built, the moulds have been destroyed, mores the pity, so our collection of boats is fairly unique, worth preserving by all means possible. There are other old One Design Classes out there, the Solent based X Class, about 100 boats strong, has a cult following, sell for 10 times a Sonata's value, and its just a wooden daybook, a nice one, but not that special, sorry, X's. The Portsmouth Victory Class is still going strong, wooden clinker, and they have revitalised it by taking a mould off an existing wood hull and building fibreglass copies which race in Class, because there are few original Victories left. Compared to these two examples, and there are more, we have a much better proposition. You can buy a Sonata for peanuts and with a very small investment, turn it into a very competitive one design with seriously great racing, plus a boat you can cruise on in most weathers. What other Class offers you that? I think we have a collective responsibility to look after our Class. Thats mostly what this is about. Hope you can help me do that. Chris
  15. Chris Bentley

    Hello, Hello, is anybody out there?

    OK, I have only given it about 10 days since I posted. According to the website, on all my posts, there are three more posts from me, up to ten views, no replies, including this one, headlined, as you see, Hello, Hello. Me, not that fussed if you don't want to talk to me, prefer you did, but up to you. Me, I am seriously trying to communicate with you lot. If I don't get any response, I will poke you via emails. I understand that Sonata matters are probably way down your personal priorities list, currently, as of this hour at midnight Saturday, I am working out the logistics of getting BFG lifted in Poole Wednesday and re-lauched in Brixham, Thursday, for the Southerns. Looks good so far. Concurrently I am running a business that demands 24/7/365 attention. If I can take the time and effort to post this at midnight, surely some of you out there can have the decency to reply to me. I live in hope. Chris
  16. Chris Bentley

    Hi. RTI stuff

    So this is maybe what i mean when i say we need to use our website to communicate. The below is a message i sent as a reply from BFG to my Medway Sonatas after the RTI. Sorry if the pic is upside down, not idea why. But you will get the gist. I guess any of you North of Watford will have no idea what went on in that race. It was lumpy and very windy. As it happened, after Callista dumped her rig, we on BFG had a mini committee meeting on the beat back to Cowes and decided to gift the Sonata reserve mast to Callista, subject of course to NSA approval, which was subsequently granted, because, he, Chris, Callista, had already entered the Poole Nationals and we were no way going to prevent him from competing. He did. All good. So, your Association works, even when beating to windward in 30knts. You should be proud of that. We are all owners/sailors of Sonatas, we want to communicate with you, as per my previous posts. All we require is for you to communicate with us. Chris Thanks Paul and all,Have to say it was more of a war of attrition than a yacht race and we only got our names on the salver because we were last Sonata men (and ladies) standing. I think we may be the smallest (LOA) boat to finish this year - anyone with a head for stats want to check that for me? Thanks to my crew, Dave Hill, veteran of all our RTI campaigns who pulled everything in very hard and stopped the boat shaking itself to pieces, Santha Patel, first time around, and bit of a fiery baptism, but a New Zealand surfer, so quite at home on the foredeck up to her neck in lumps of the Solent, partner Sharon who magnificently steered downwind to St Cats and pulled out a lead of 5 minutes on our closest rival Sonata, (which yours truly lost when he took back the stick on the next leg) only to regain the lead by default when they dumped their rig over the side. As always, I am constantly amazed by what Sonatas will stand up to, BFG was in much better shape than I was and the joy of overtaking 36ft boats both upwind and downwind is one of the reasons I love this race, so thanks Dave Thomas for designing such a tough, enduring and competitive little boat.RegardsChris and SharonPS Congratulations also to Joe, our Sonata Chairman, who won his Class, not in a Sonata, boo, but some feat nonetheless in that race.Sent from my iPadSent from my iPad
  17. Chris Bentley

    Rule Changes - Conclusion

    Hello, Fleet, Happy New Year! We ought to bring the Rule Changes discussion to a close now. Thanks to everyone who has contributed over the past three months. This post is my take on the way forward. I have, I hope, taken account of your views and spent some time thinking it through, including researching how other National and one-design Classes manage it. What I propose below may not be word-perfect, and I am happy to take your comments on the detail but I hope you will agree with the intent. These discussions started with the two (carried) motions at the 2012 AGM regarding crew substitution and a corrector weight as an alternative to saloon berth cushions. The decision was that we remove Rule C21b (crew subs) and allow a corrector, weight to be determined. Would someone like to weigh their saloon cushions and tell us the result? Thanks. Then we can enact these two changes. The discussion of Rule Changes in general then broadened out and threw up a whole raft of topics for two reasons: Technology (instrumentation, mobile phones, hi-tec rope) has improved hugely since our rules were drafted. More relevant, it is affordable and, in practice, any of us with a smart phone have a lot of it in our pockets anyway. Our Closed Rules (“if it doesn’t say you can, then you cannot”) which are a product of our National Class status, appear to exclude items which everyone carries aboard/adds for safety reasons or are open to silly or confusing interpretations. However, as Martin Hartley, our Technical Officer, pointed out (Class Rules Changes Post) the current rules were the result of extensive revision (mainly by him) to retain our National status and conform with the ERS format and I said in reply “the last thing we want to do is jeopardise our Class Status”. I think we all agree with that. Martin admitted that a couple of topics may have been mislaid or forgotten in the process and we can correct those without further ado. I am also acutely aware of Mark Taylor’s “Notice to” post which seeks to re-assure potential Sonata owners that the important message is that “they mostly sail at the same speed so racing is very close and generally conducted with great sportsmanship”. So, we need to tread carefully. Edward Harrison (Class Rule Changes post) came up with two very simple additions to the personal and equipment lists, C3 and C5 which said, respectively: “All other personal equipment is optional” “All other equipment is optional, subject to restrictions in C”. (ie the Mandatory list). And then added a heading for us to prohibit anything we felt should not be carried aboard whilst racing. Although this neatly avoids the need to examine in detail the content and wording of permitted items, I am concerned that for ‘other equipment’, it enlarges the scope to such an extent that it may take the rules outside the “Closed Rules” definition, which we don’t want, and implies that we would have to think hard about the ‘Prohibited’ list to exclude any kit which could contribute to performance. On reflection, my suggestions to include an “Ethos” statement would also be open to problems of interpretation at any protest hearing. Our intentions in formulating rule changes therefore are: to update them to allow for new technology to clarify the Closed Rule interpretation under ‘personal’ and ‘equipment’ not to exclude the carrying of additional safety kit whilst racing to (mainly) make the changes ‘optional’ so that individual owners can choose depending on the type of racing they do. In making these changes we must not affect our strict “One Design” status or change the original Sonata concept of ‘affordability’. So here are the proposed changes: (wording changes/additions in italics) C.3 PERSONAL EQUIPMENT C.3.1 MANDATORY The boat shall be equipped with personal buoyancy for each crew member to the minimum standard ISO 12402-5. OPTIONAL All other personal equipment is optional C4 ADVERTISING – no change C.5 PORTABLE EQUIPMENT – delete the word PORTABLE (a) MANDATORY 1 – 4 (Fire Extinguisher, Bucket, Anchor, Hand Pump) – no change 5. Marine steering compass with a minimum of 60mm card. Correctly installed and adjusted. Replace with: A minimum of one fixed marine type compass of magnetic card or digital read out type capable only of instantaneous readout. 6. Two saloon berth mattresses made from foam rubber or similar and upholstered in fabric or vinyl. Each mattress shall be not less than 1830mm x 600mm x 100mm. The mattresses shall be positioned on the saloon berths, one to port and one to starboard. OR A corrector weight of x gms positioned where we decide 7 – 8 (Galley, Toilet) – no change 9. A minimum of one marine hand held VHF radio. (delete hand held) 10. (Outboard) – no change 11. Heavy items: Anchor, Outboard Motor (above) and any heavy additional equipment (below, eg batteries) shall be secured against movement in the event of a knock-down. 12. The Notice of Race and/or Sailing Instructions may proscribe safety equipment in addition to the minimum standards contained in the Class Rules. OPTIONAL 1. Electronic or other devices to record, measure and calculate; speed, distance, water depth, wind direction and speed, water temperature and position. Any device maybe linked to another. 2. Additional safety devices and equipment to owner’s requirements or to comply with local regulations 3. Additional equipment or fittings that contribute to the practical and seamanlike operation of the craft without enhancing performance or contravening other Class Rules. I hope the intention of these changes is clear and that, particularly 2 and 3 above, remove ambiguity about whether or not it is legal to carry additional safety kit whilst racing, from flares to a liferaft if racecourses or conditions warrant it and winch handles, wash boards and a spare plug for the outboard, because we all sensibly do anyway. The change to allow any combination of electronics is because the posts showed that some owners wanted it. Others felt it would be of little or no benefit. It is down to the type of racing individual owners do. So it is included as a specified option. In any event, policing whether a crew is using the Navionics app on their mobile in one hand and getting COG and SOG off the Garmin in the other is an impossibility. I have also amended the compass rule for similar reasons. I have left the guardrails rule alone. I hope you are all in agreement. Chris
  18. Mike I have messaged you personally about this - great idea - if you want to call me for more info please do. M: 07866 593 171
  19. Well done Mark, and thanks. You nailed that one.
  20. Chris Bentley

    Rule Changes - Instrumentation

    Bit more complex this one. We have discussed wind instruments. I am convinced that we allowed GPS, provided it wasn't linked to wind. (Martin, is this another one that got lost in the wash)? Wind, without the link is, in Sonata use, not much use. I can see my Windex even at night and all a screen gives me extra is numbers to look at instead of a mechanical direction arrow. Ok, it also can give me speed at the masthead, but, apart from the warm glow I could get from surviving a 40knt gust, I actually have a fair idea when to change sails which a wind speed read-out won't add to. However, link wind to GPS and you get COG, SOG (from the GPS anyway) plus apparent wind speed and direction and, if you really want to get into electronic links, throw in a fluxgate compass, a Tack tic sensor option, and you can have the above in relation to the ships course as well as the wind direction. Bolt that to your autohelm and you will go upwind like a roasted stoat. OK. I am being silly, but the point is that we could allow this, and a lot more, chart plotters, AIS, radar, radar??? no, really silly, and today, you can link it all together and the boat could sail itself. But we don't do that when racing. Our Sonata racing is almost entirely windward/leewards or river/estuary/lake sailing where the more sophisticated electronic aids are of limited use. So, we allow, insist on a compass, ok. We allow a depth sounder, ok We allow a log, ok We allow a Tack-tic without the wind sensors or fluxgate compass or GPS linked in which gives us all the above, but in a nicer way. Do we, given the ability of say, the Tack tic, to link in other data, if people want to, on the presumption that in effect, the enhancement to performance would be negligible or non existant, given our style of racing? In fact, maybe detrimental to performance with masthead cones and kit plus batteries and maybe wiring, but if it turns skippers on, why not? Or do we revert to our established stance and say no, partly on the basis that it would inevitably cost money and we don't do cheque-book sailing? Personally, I don't believe that linked, and/or more instrumentation would enhance my racing experience, or improve my performance. In fact, it would probably distract me. But, if others want to have them, I have no objection. Your comments, please. Chris
  21. Chris Bentley

    Rule Changes - Guard Rails

    Hi First of my separated out topics for discussion about rule changes - refer back to the previous posts for history. Lets get more posts on each individual topic before we think about possible rule changes. I think Dyneema and webbing straps make sense for the reasons I previously stated. 4mm Dyneema has a break strain of nearly two tonnes. If you knot it, that reduces by about 30%. I cannot imagine a worst case scenario (towing an 18 stone crew member attached by his lifeline (stupidly, but whatever) to the guardrail) breaking it. More likely, you would pull the stanchions/pushpit out the deck. There is no evidence it is subject to UV degradation. Anyway, I would include the rule that it had to be sheathed with braided polyester to prevent chafe and protect it from UV. (Dyneema is just the core weave). I have some knowledge about this having owned a rope company. There are 40ft yachts out there using Dyneema and it's derivatives for standing rigging. Webbing straps are so much more comfy I cannot imagine helming without them. Run the Dyneeema from pulpit to pushpit, as we specify with wire, and the strength is built-in. On the other hand, wire, as Peter says, can invisibly degrade (inside swaged ends mostly) and if it separates, the exposed strands are pretty lethal. Lets take advantage of this technical advance and allow it. Chris
  22. Chris Bentley

    Class Rule Changes

    Hello Fleet, Before you read this, please read Peter Cyrax's post and the replies. Personally, I don't think we need significant changes to our Class Rules and Peter's comments imply a very detailed revision. Our current rules have served us well for thirty years. My comments about 'ethos' are, I think, valid. However, technology and times move on and I would like to initiate a discussion initially about the following three points and please respond if you agree or not: Guard Rails: Dyneema (a product name for a hi-tech rope) has many of the properties of a 4mm steel stranded wire and is lighter. You can tie it. Additionally, lots of Sonatas use a webbing strap between the aft and middle stanchion in place of the ruled wire for reasons of comfort. The overall result of a Dyneema, (or wire) and strap guard rail is a minor decrease in overall weight and an improved comfort for the helm and maybe cockpit when hiking. It's not significantly performance related, but I think it is an advance. I would support that change. Wind Instruments: Peter is correct that the price of adding wind input datas has fallen. But it is still an expense and why would you want them? My experience of Sonata racing around the UK has been that instrumented wind information on the race course is irrelevant to our racing experience. You get wind angles and a reading of the boat's heading in relation to the apparent wind. From which you can get COG and SOG according to the wind. In a tight fleet, racing windward/leewards that's irrelevant and unnecessary. Even on the RTI, our GPS provides all the info we need to get from one corner to the next asap. I think this is unnecessary but if others want to stick cones on their masthead and wires to connect them, so be it. Anchors and safety kit in general: Personally, I think the rules as they stand define the anchor and it's warps and chain absolutely OK. The other safety rules are adequate for most Sonata racing. The rules do not prohibit carrying extra safety kit. They simply state that, as a 'Closed Rule', if it is not specified, then it is not permitted for racing. I would support a change that allowed skippers to add whatever safety kit they considered necessary for the race they were about to take part in, should they consider it necessary, without detriment to their class status. For instance, if a Sonata was to undertake the feeder race to the Scottish Series in Tarbert leaving Kip or Helensburgh in a forecast 40knts (this has happend), if they took a liferaft on board (not in the Class Rules) to ensure the ultimate safety of the crew and won the race, they should be allowed that win. In a lesser way, the questions about Mobile Phones are similar. For information given, fine. For information received, take care not to infringe the SI's. I have asked Peter to phrase a rule ( see above) which would encompass the above without giving Carte Blanche to abuse. I hope he can devise something we all can agree with.
  23. Chris Bentley

    Rule Changes - VHF Radios

    Second separated topic. Not only should we allow, it should be mandatory that everyone carries a working VHF. And preferably, but not mandatory, a fixed and a handheld for reasons of range and as a back-up. It is a primary piece of safety kit. So, minimum of one working set, thereafter as many as you like, either fixed or portable. Chris
  24. Chris Bentley

    Rule Changes - Mobile Phones

    Please read the instrumentation one above too, because, on my phone, I can do even more, so this isn't just a discussion about the abuse of phones for 'outside assistance'. There has been a fair bit of press coverage about mobiles used to advise competitors of conditions up the race course which, in top-level racing circuits, has resulted in stringent rules being imposed. However, I can't imagine one of my fellow competitors ringing me whilst racing to advise me of a 20º wind shift on the next tack, neither one of my shore team, (if I had such a thing), even if I could unearth the thing from it's waterproof pocket in time. As far as Sonatas are concerned, we could easily cover this with the "fair" rule (see main thread on Rules). So banning the carrying, or even use (see below) of mobiles whilst racing is, for us, I think, OTT. Obviously, an element of trust is involved, but, as previously stated, we are good at that. Plus, practically, it is impossible for the likes of us to monitor it. On the plus side, carrying a mobile has a potential safety advantage. It's another link to the shore/rescue services. They don't like it used thus, but they do, and have, saved lives from a mobile call. And it is also a camera and a movie camera. Thanks, Jo Cross for some nice pics of BFG you posted on Facebook. Pretty impossible for me to have had those any other way. So, on that basis, I suggest we consider mobiles as 'Personal Equipment' under the rules as proposed in the main thread and allow them. Or rather, do nothing to restrict them. However, I admit to having used my mobile on deck for calling a layline, weather, navigation and avoiding shipping. (not whilst Sonata racing, I hasten to add). I can do all of the above because I have a compass app, Navionics chart plotting, built in weather, as well as online when in range, and an AIS based tracker which tells me all I need to know about shipping near me, or the other side of the world, for that matter. It pretty much doubles up a fairly sophisticated electronic nav system. You need dry fingers and good close up vision to work it, but work it does. Again, I don't think it necessary on any of the above to ban them. If anything, they add another layer of safety information. But if we are discussing the possibility of allowing linked instruments, we shouldn't forget that mobiles with the right apps actually already provide some of this, and no doubt will provide more soon, and for a stupidly small cost. Buy an i-Pad and you have the same on a bigger screen than a £1000 chart plotter. AIS 'A' and the equivalent marine kit to run it costs a minimum of £1700.00. As Sonatas, all I think we need to do is be aware of the technology and, if it developed in some way that might be considered possible to enhance performance, as with instruments, take a view. Currently, I don't see anything out there yet which I think significantly does for us. But you may know better! Please share if you do! Chris
  25. Chris Bentley

    Rule Changes (Clarification for RTI) - IRC Rating

    Ha! Thanks, Richard for the nice comments about our downwind performance - I will pass it on to Max, our foredeck, who is mostly responsible. Yes, you and I have discussed your IRC rating before and not come to a conclusion. What I am going to do is throw this open to the Class. I have a vested interest. It could be a bit unfair for me to put forward my personal views. I was the one who canned the separate Sonata Class start in the RTI. I thought at the time for the best of reasons. I still think I was right to decide that. For those not directly involved, I asked ISC to let Sonatas race RTI IRC in an appropriate class start but with the proviso that we retained our, rather nice, salver for the first Sonata home from that start. What you, Richard, are asking, if I understand you correctly, is that you be placed as a Sonata in the 'Race within a Race' for Sonatas, albeit with a different IRC rating from the rest of us, as, in that context, you were a Sonata. We all have to be rated IRC to enable us to compete in the RTI. What the Class should decide is whether, actually, you are a Sonata, or something else. If yes, then ok, you can ask for a place to be recorded in the 'Race within a Race'. If not, then not. What is clear is that the first Sonata home gets the Salver. After that, I am prepared to take advice, as stated, from the Class. Your comments please! And, Richard, thanks for your prompt responses to my other posts. Nice to know someone out there is watching and getting involved. Chris