Photos: John Green


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For the first time in over a decade, a Hunter Sonata Class sailing event was held in Cowes at the weekend.

Unfortunately, the Goodall Roofing Sonata Nationals 2020 were postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic but a local open event managed to go ahead with 7 boats from Cowes competing alongside a mainland boat, JOEY travelling from Chichester.

2 boats arrived from North East England to new owners in Cowes just a week before the event; SONIC owned and helmed by Robin Leather and DICK DASTARDLY owned and helmed by Dawn Bee.

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With an equinox tide and strong current in the Solent on Saturday, Island Sailing Club Race Officer Rich Palmer positioned the windward-leeward race course on the Bramble Bank and got the fleet away in 17-23kt NE breeze with teams having to make the tough call on the choice of Genoa or Jib. Typically the Genoa is held to 23 knots however the lighter crew of just 3 for the event meant teams were easily overpowered with the Genoa and many teams opting for the Jib.

After 3 windward leeward races the pecking order was establishing with MINIM, JOEY, ARAYA and LITTLE SCARLET making up the podium spots. For the fourth and final race of the day, the race team set the fleet off on a 11nm ‘round the cans’ course finishing off Cowes Harbour. With a very strong westerly going tide of 3kts, at times the fleet made slow progress around the course before finishing after 2 hours. MINIM took the lead on the second windward leg with JOEY taking 2nd and ARAYA in 3rd.

Sunday’s weather greeted the fleet with kinder conditions than on Day 1, a decreasing NE breeze established with the race team working to get the fleet away on time. A 40 degree wind shift occurring during the start sequence threw a slight spanner in the works for the ISC race team having to go under a short postponement to adjust the course. Finally underway, the fleet had a clean start with MINIM, ARAYA,  JOEY, LITTLE SCARLET & MAVERICK all vying for the top spots over the 3 windward-leeward races.

The local team of MINIM managed to hold on to their overnight lead on Saturday having been tested by JOEY, ARAYA and LITTLE SCARLET. Sunday’s racing all seemed to go MINIM’s way with a string of bullets to take the event on 7 points from 7 races after 1 discard.

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Mark Angell, event organiser and MINIM owner, commented:

“It’s been a lot of hard work to get to this point but it makes it all worth it seeing boats lined up on the water, new boats coming to join the Cowes Sonata Fleet and everyone having such a great time! It was such a shame to have to postpone the Nationals to 2021 but we felt COVID 19 restrictions didn’t allow us to run a National level event responsibly. Having then organised the Cowes Sonata Open we were forced to postpone to this weekend due to storm Ellen, however, the wait was worth it!”

Island Sailing Club Sailing Secretary Ben Ferris commented:

“I remember sailing a Sonata badly over thirty years ago, so it was a huge pleasure for the Island Sailing Club to be asked to host this event. The fact these boats are very affordable, and sailed in such good spirit (everyone was smiling each time they passed the committee boat) makes them the fleet to be seen in for the future.

“Congratulations to all the competitors for making it to an event in 2020  which we were unsure of being able to run several times. Can’t wait until next year, a bigger fleet and more great racing.”

Final Results:

1st – MINIM – 7pts
2nd – JOEY – 15pts
3rd – ARAYA – 18pts
4th – LITTLE SCARLET – 21pts
5th – MAVERICK – 27pts
6th – WASP – 30pts
7th – SONIC – 39pts
8th – DICK DASTARDLY – 44pts

The views/opinions expressed in these comments are solely those of the author and do not represent those of Island Echo. House rules on commenting must be followed at all times.
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