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Found 1 result

  1. 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
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