Monday, October 31, 2011

Sonar Class Association Newsletter, October 31, 2011



For those who missed it...

I am happy to announce the following:

At our recent AGM, conducted on Oct 1, 2011, a vote was taken to change the membership structure and dues for the Sonar Class Association, beginning in 2012.

The following motions passed unanimously:

Beginning in 2012 there will only be one level of membership. That level will be called Active. The Associate Member level will no longer exist.

Beginning in 2012, the annual fee to be an Active member in the SCA will drop from $75 to $50.

Beginning in 2012, to race in an SCA sanctioned event, only the "Person in Charge" of a registered boat is required to be an Active member. The Person in Charge is defined as the person responsible for the registration and any liability or pecuniary obligation resulting from participating in the event.

Larry Ehrhardt
Sonar Class Association


Lots to catch up on...


By now most of you know that Steve Shepstone from Fleet 1 is our new World Champion. The World Championship was held this past August in Rhu, Scotland, hosted by the Royal Northern & Clyde Yacht Club.

What most of you have not seen is this account of his planning, preparation and execution for his campaign to with the regatta:

For full results of the Worlds, click here:


The Sonar European Championships, a "pre-worlds" regatta hosted by The Royal Northern and Clyde Yacht Club in Scotland, was held August 18 -21.

The regatta was won by Skip Shumway. Second went to Simon Barter from Great Britain while third went to Steve Shepstone.

Here is a link to the full results:


The 2011 North American Championships, hosted by Fleet 5 and the Wayzata Yacht Club took place on Lake Minnetonka, Minnesota, from September 23-25.

27 boats competed, including three from Canada. A total of five races were completed. After four races, Peter Galloway from Noroton Yacht Club's Fleet 1 and Skip Shumway from Fleet 9 and Shumway Marine, were battling for first, with Skip only two points behind Peter. Unfortunately for Skip, time ran out...he had to leave and miss the last race. It would not have mattered though because Peter Galloway took his fourth gun in five races and sealed the victory.

Coming in Second was Ernest Brody while third went to Martin and Kathy Fossen.

Full results can be found here:


Noroton YC hosted the Sonar ACC's on October 1-2. 23 boats participated in a variety of conditions.

Saturday saw gusty winds out of the north. The breeze varied between 8 and 18 knots making for quite a challenge. PRO Chris Zaleski and his RC did a tremendous job getting in four races. Unfortunately, at the end of the day, the first race was thrown out leaving three races and a lot of smiles at the dock after racing (except for Scott Harrison who won the first race :-)).

Sunday was really interesting. The first race started in about 10 kts but the wind slowly died out. 19 boats managed to finish before the time limit expired. Then we drifted around for over an hour waiting for the breeze to return. When it did, it did! The wind went back to the mid teens and allowed Chris to get two more races in before calling it a day.

With six races completed, allowing for one throw-out the winner of the 2011 ACCs was Peter Galloway with 14 points. Second went to Rick Dominique from fleet 22 who finished with 15 points. Third was Scott Harrison with 20.

Full results can be seen at the Noroton YC website (When there go to Regatta Info and Results).

Some photos from the ACCs:

2011 was a high mileage, successful year for members of Sonar Fleet 1. In addition to Shepstone's World Championship victory and Peter Galloway's win at the North Americans, Rick Doerr prevailed at the the US Disabled Sailing Championship held at Larchmont YC on September 22-25.

Rick was quoted in US Sailing...“It was a challenge all weekend,” said Doerr. “The breeze was up and down, and there was a ton of current. I think we did a good job keeping the competition in our sights. We wanted to make a statement that to go through the Trials you have to go through us.”


The following is our 2012 sanctioned regatta/team race schedule. Not all are 100% confirmed...there might be some tweaking of dates...but otherwise you can begin to plan based on what's here.


Tappan Zee Challenge, Nyack NY, Nyack Boat Club, May 19-20
ACCs, Eastern YC, Marblehead, June 23-24
Marblehead NOOD, July 28-29
New Englands, Martha's Vineyard, MA, Vineyard Haven YC, Aug 3-5
North Americans, Rochester NY, Rochester YC, August 23-26
LIS Championships, Darien, CT, Noroton YC, September 29-30 


Master Driver, St. Petersburg,  Jan 28-29
Texas Shoot-out Team Race, TCYC, Mar 24-25
Jackson Cup, Marblehead, Apr 14-15
Oyster Bay Challenge, May 12-13
Morgan Cup, NYYC, Aug 11-12
Hinman Masters, NYYC, Aug 18-19
Grand Masters, NYYC Aug 25-26
Kirby Cup, Noroton, Sep 15-16
Lee Trophy, Seawanhaka, Oct 6-7
Halloween Cup, Marblehead, Oct 28-29 


Friday, August 5, 2011

Sonar Class Association Newsletter, August 4, 2011


2011 New Englands:

The New Englands, hosted by Vineyard Haven YC on Martha's Vineyard begin tomorrow. If you have found you 've nothing to do this weekend, VHYC has a couple of boats available for charter.  If you are interested in going but are put off by the "hassle," this is a great opportunity.  Contact Alex Meleney at if interested, or call 203-536-1190.

2011 Sonar Worlds:

The Scottish Fleet are gearing up for the European and World Championships, as you can imagine we are all very busy with our preparations. Wet sailed boats have been taken out of the water for care and repair and a wee bit of tweaking before the championships. Whilst for the dry sailed boats the final coats of polish and sanding down are being undertaken. Its all seeming just a little bit too serious at the moment. However we are all sure that when the events kick off on 18th August an excellent time will be had by all those attending, and the real serious business of making new friends and enjoying the Corinthian spirit of the class will be enjoyed by all.


2011 North Americans:

The 2011 North American Championships, hosted by fleet 5 and the Wayzata Yacht Club, are being held on September 23-25. Racing will take place on Lake Minnetonka, Minnesota.

The NOR is now available. It can be downloaded from the Wayzata Yacht Club website Here:

The NOR can also be found on the SCA website here:

From Bob Winter, Lake Geneva fleet 19:

Please extol the virtues of inland sailing and the great sailing weather that September brings to the Midwest. Peter Galloway and Steve Shepstone (a transplanted Midwesterner) and others who have sailed in the NA's on Lake Geneva will testify as to the merits of sailing on lakes.  The Minnetonka fleet is growing and alive and I'm sure will put on a fine, memorable North American Sonar Championship.  We look forward to seeing you in September.


24 Sonars competed in the Marblehead NOOD last weekend, July 29-31. There is a great article by Michael Lovett which you can find here:

For full results, click here.

A great recap by Tomas Hornos can be found on the SCA website:

Rules questions and answers from Peter Wilson, US Sailing Senior Judge:

Click image to enlarge


Ever wonder about the fastest way to "shoot" the line when finishing? Here are some tips from Lee Morrison and Jim Linville:

First Lee:

To get the boat to turn into the wind the fastest - in order of priority:

1) heel the boat - then let the boat turn without using the rudder
2) trim the mainsail tight - also causing the boat to turn without the rudder and keeps the wind attached a bit further into the wind.
3) slowly trim the jib - letting it go will cause the boat to turn into the wind but then you loose all its power.  Trimming it too quickly could slow the boat because you need to use more rudder to get the boat to turn up.  You might release it at head to wind to make sure that it doesn't back and cause the boat to tack. 

Understanding how much momentum to carry the boat into the wind is important.  Turn too soon and the boat slows too much.  Turning too late doesn't take full advantage of shooting the line - getting further to windward on the line.  If you are overstanding it pays to just finish as close to the mark (or boat) as possible since you don't have the extra distance to shoot to windward.

From Jim Linville:

It works best in moderate wind and smooth water - less sea than wind. Rolling the boat to windward - hard - as the boat begins the luff will sweep the sails through the wind and accelerate the boat a lot (this does not work in "four up" conditions). The jib trimmer must (underlined) not let the jib back, not even a little bit, it slows the boat down and you need all the speed you can get. Be sure to head the boat at right angles to the line, not straight upwind, but be careful if that takes you past head to wind, you will be tacking and have no rights.

In the right conditions (5-8, smooth water)you can gain two boat lengths doing this. If you are trying to beat a boat ahead and no one is close behind, start the shoot way early- you have nothing to lose.

Practice this near the pin or a lobster pot to get an idea of what is possible, it is amazing what you can gain.

And of course you can shoot the finish on a downwind finish as well, and throw in a hard main trim and spinnaker pump (stay legal) as well. Heel to weather to help the boat bear off.


Rick Dominique has put together his thoughts on sportsmanship. Something we should all keep in mind while racing:

Click to enlarge

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Sonar Class Association Newsletter, June 15, 2011


New Englands:

The 2011 Sonar New Englands will be sponsored by the Vineyard Haven Yacht Club, Vineyard Haven, MA, with racing on Friday-Sunday August 5-7. The NOR is now available on the SCA website. For more information, contact Alex Meleney at, 203-536-1190 or Tim Aureden,, 610-715-3699

North Americans:

The 2011 North American Championships, hosted by fleet 5 and the Wayzata Yacht Club, are being held on September 23-25. Racing will take place on Lake Minnetonka, Minnesota

The NOR is now available. It can be downloaded from the Wayzata Yacht Club website Here:

The NOR can also be found on the SCA website here:


The Long Island Sound Championships were held on June 4-5. Hosted by Manhasset Bay Yacht Club's fleet 11 and the US Merchant Marine Academy's fleet 22, six races were completed over the two days.

Day one started with a postponement due to lack of wind. When the breeze finally did fill in, we saw up to 15 kts and 40º shifts making life miserable for the RC.

Day two was a little easier with a fairly consistent 6 kts.

For the Regatta, Rick Dominique from the USMMA finished first with a total of 12 points. Spencer Powers from Marblehead finished a close second with 13 points followed by Alex Meleney, from Noroton YC with 18 points.

Full results are here:

A couple of pictures from the regatta:


Our next rules question from US Sailing Senior Judge Peter Wilson:

Click to enlarge image

Go Fast:

As a follow up to the Lee Morrison's article on forestay length in the last edition, Rick Doerr, a member of US Sailing's Team AlphaGraphics and US representative in the last Paralympic Games in China, would like to offer his thoughts:

I have approached the forestay length from a slightly different perspective. I am no tech guy, so I may be out of touch, but I'll give it to you and hopefully it will makes sense.

My perspective comes from my experience with the 2.4mR, where the forestay length is very easily adjustable. In that fleet, no one uses a traveler any longer, and in order to get the boom on centerline they must have the appropriate rake for the amount of mainsheet tension in the given wind conditions. When the wind is light, if one uses a forward (shorter) forestay position, they would have to over trim the mainsheet in order to get the boom to centerline. If in windy conditions with a long forestay length, one would never get the main trimmed hard enough.

So my experience with adjusting the forestay length rose out of our preparation for the uber light conditions of the China Paralympic event. Realizing there was a limit to the effective traveler length in the sonar, I surmised that by lengthening the forestay, we could actually get the boom to centerline w/o over trimming the mainsail in 3-5 knots (yes, we raced in those conditions).

There was something else that I had heard from smarter people about the "end plate effect"..., but I was oblivious to that. What I could tell about the end plate, was that with the correct amount of rake (forestay length), the mainsheet trim should always end up block to block in all wind conditions (which is what I strive for in assessing our correct forestay length).

Lastly, I go back to the North Sails tuning guide (well sort of). Brian Hayes had always told us the correct amount of blocking will be when you are just seeing a hint of overbend wrinkles. When there is too much forestay length for given conditions, we will notice excessive mast bend (ie: overbend wrinkles) with the minimum of blocks. Therefore, we must shorten the forestay in order to correct the excessive mast bend. I can't say I know what the absolute numbers are because we start with a mid range length as suggested, and shorten or lengthen for given conditions based on what I mentioned above. I don't want to say I'm oblivious to the headstay sag mentioned in Lee's article, but I don't pay attention to it (a quick aside, our coach BA obsesses about it and she'll make us change our forestay length when she sees too much sag, but I tend to disagree with her on that. You decide who knows more, a 5 time Rolex Yacht Woman of the Year or a neophyte like me?). 

My perspective of the headstay sag is based nearly solely on backstay tension (the only control I'm permitted to use on the boat). When I need more sag, I ease it off, when I'm overpowered or need less, I put more on (I'm a simple man).

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Sonar Class Association Newsletter, May 25, 2011


The Nyack Boat club hosted another successful Tappan Zee Challenge this past weekend (May 21-22). A total of five races were completed with Skip Shumway posting a dramatic come-from-behind victory after posting two 9's the first day.

Second and third went to the United States Merchant Marine Academy with Rick Dominique taking second and Midn. Joe Hoffman, in another day two come back, finishing third

After that, the next five boats, all from Noroton YC, were separated by a total of only four points.

The conditions were challenging, the racing tight and a great time was had by all.

Full results:

Click on the image to enlarge

Next up, the Long Island Sound Championships on June 4-5, hosted by Manhasset Bay YC's fleet 11 and the USMMA's fleet 22. There is still time to register at

Team Racing:

The Oyster Bay Challenge, hosted by Seawanhaka Corinthian YC, was held on May 14-15. In addition to the host team, another four teams participated including 2 from New York YC, one from Noroton YC and one from the Nyack Boat Club.

The weather was rainy the second day, but overall the conditions were excellent for team racing with adequate and relatively steady wind.  At the end of the first day NYYC 1 was in first with six points. After that there was a three-way tie for second with NYYC2, Seawanhaka and Noroton.

Day two saw things shake out a little with NYYC1 winning the event followed by NYYC 2, SCYC, Noroton and Nyack.


Here is our next rules question from U.S. Sailing Senior Judge Peter Wilson...

Click on the image to enlarge
Peter's answer:

Yellow does not break any rules. She is entitled to mark-room from blue and as windward, keep-clear boat, mark-room includes sailing a seamanlike course to the mark. So long as she sails this course directly to the mark, as she is doing in positions 2 and 3, she will be exonerated if she breaks rule 11 (windward/leeward) with respect to blue. When blue slows and separates from yellow, between positions 3 and 4, yellow may widen her approach to the mark so long as she still keeps clear of blue which she does a position 4 and then again at position 5 when blue heads up. If, however, she makes contact with blue or forces blue to avoid contact as she widens her approach, then she breaks rule 11 and does not receive any exoneration.

Go Fast:

From time to time, we hope to post "go fast" articles from members. Here is the first from Lee Morrison, Noroton YC fleet 1 member:

Forestay Length

Debating forestay length is a time honored tradition in many classes but none more so than the Sonar.  With its relatively limber rig and large sail plan the length of the forestay greatly influences the power of a Sonar’s rig.

Forestay length is one determinate of jib sag which affects the amount and location of draft in a jib.  As we know, you want flatten sails in heavy air and add draft/make the entry finer in light air/flat water.  So, if we agree that the length of the forestay influences the shape of the jib and that we can improve the performance of a sail by changing its shape in different wind conditions, why are so many Sonar forestay turnbuckles pinned down and taped up never to be touched after winning some race back in 2006?

Granted, other controls such as mast blocking, influences jib sag as much or more than forestay length.  Moving blocks is certainly easier than changing forestay length and, blocks can be adjusted while racing.  But, after setting your mast blocks correctly (refer to your sail maker’s guide), changing your forestay length can provide some extra power when you need it in chop, a finer entry when the water is smooth, or make the jib flatter when it gets windy.  If you are not convinced that small changes in forestay length (a bit more than an inch in either direction using the adjuster mentioned below) can make a difference, the next time you sail your boat in heavy air look at your forestay and visualize how sag is adding unneeded power to the jib.  Think about the amount of tension on the forestay – hundreds of lbs of pressure.  Then imagine how much sag would be removed if you could easily make the forestay just one inch shorter.

If this sounds like something you would like to explore then read on.  Here are some tips picked up from experimenting with forestay length last summer.

1) You need to make your forestay easy to adjust on the water between races even when it’s windy.  Believe me, when it starts getting rough, you don’t want to be on your foredeck cutting off tape and pulling pins.  I use a ? Hold Allen High Load Calibrated Adjuster HA4772H ($42.95 at APS) and Ronstan RF115x3/4 Toggle Pin ($16.95 at Jamestown Distributors).  Sailing downwind between races I can easily and accurately make 1/4” adjustments even in the windiest of conditions.  You will need a new forestay ‘wire’ since cutting off the existing turnbuckle would make the current forestay too short for the new adjuster.  Here’s a bonus tip if you have a 3.8mm backstay – the diameter that typically comes standard with a new boat.  The rules allow a slightly narrower diameter backstay - 3.0mm (rule F.7.6 (d)).  If you purchase a new minimum diameter backstay you can repurpose your existing backstay making it the new forestay.  The current backstay end fitting should fit into your new adjuster.  Set it to the mid point and then have a new t-ball fitting swaged on at the desired length (see tip #2).

2) If you feel that your boat is fast, measure your current forestay length to use as a reference.  If not, start with the number provided in your sail maker’s guide.  Make that the length of the new forestay with the adjuster pin at the midpoint in your forestay adjuster.  Make sure that when the adjustment pin is at the top of the adjuster that the forestay is less than the class allowed maximum length.  Similarly check the minimum length with the adjustment pin at the bottom of the adjuster.

The rest is easy.  If its light air and flat water move your adjustment pin up a little bit (try 1/2”) from the midpoint.  All else being equal, that will increase jib sag resulting in greater power.  As the breeze picks up move the adjustment pin down.  The next time the wind speed gets to the point that you believe that the crew will be on the rail most of the time going upwind – for example, the last day of last year’s North Americans, try sailing with the pin at the bottom of the adjuster - ~1 1/4” inch shorter than your sail maker’s ‘all around’ setting.  You’ll feel the difference!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Sonar Class Association Newsletter, April 7, 2011

Sailing in Scotland
2011 Regattas:

Member's of the Sonar class will have a number of opportunities to race in major regattas on two continents in 2011.

The European Championships, August 18-21 and the World Championships August 24-27 are being hosted by the Royal Northern and Clyde Yacht Club in Rhu, Scotland. 

The Sonar World Championships are held every two years. A beautiful venue like the RNCYC will make the wait worthwhile. For more information:

The North American Championships are being held on September 23-25. Hosted by the Wayzata YC, racing will take place on Lake Minnetonka in Minnesota. Another great venue, Wayzata was ranked by Sailing World as one of the top US sailing towns. 

More information can be found at:

Regional Regattas: 

Sonar Start
We have a couple of regional regattas coming up over the next couple of months.

On May 21-22, the Tappan Zee Challenge will kick off the season in the northeast US. the TZC is hosted by the Nyack Boat club and Sonar Fleet 23. The venue is the two and a half mile wide stretch of the Hudson River, just north of the Tappan Zee Bridge in Nyack, NY. Historically 12 to 20 boats participate in two days of racing on the Hudson River. The competition is always excellent with boats traveling from Long Island Sound, New England, the Great Lakes, Florida, and Ireland.

On June 4-5, we have the the Long Island Sound Championships. The regatta is being hosted by Manhasset Bay Sonar Fleet #11 and USMMA Sonar Fleet #22. They have a great event planned. There will be a raffle that will include a Doyle Sonar Jib and a bottle of Casa Dragonnes Tequila along with some other great items. Each boat that registers will get a raffle ticket. Plus they are planning on giving an extra raffle ticket to each boat from the fleet that has the most registered participants other than Fleets #11 or #22.

Online registration is currently available for both regattas. Log into the Member's Only section of the SCA site, to sign up.

Team Racing: 

Kirby Cup Team Race
The first SCA sanction team race of 2011 was recently hosted by the Texas Corinthian Yacht Club located in Kemah, Texas on Galveston Bay. Teams from Noroton YC, Marblehead, Wayzata YC and Rochester NY, along with the host team from TCYC all enjoyed two days of beautiful weather with temps around 80º and wind at 15 kts.

In the end, the team from Marblehead, lead by Larry Ehrhardt, won the regatta. The rest of the team consisted of John Boyle, Spencer Powers, Daan Goedkoop, Charlie Pendleton, Ted Moore, Larry Rosenfeld, Amy Drinker, Scott Perry, Tyler Doyle, Chris Boulter and Jennifer from Tufts.

Coming in second, one point behind was Noroton, followed by TCYC, Wayzata and a new and up and coming team from Rochester.

Disabled Racing: 

Two disabled racing events were held in the US this past winter. On January 23-29 the Miami OCR saw 12 teams from nine countries compete in Sonars. After 10 races, the winning team hailing from Great Britain consisted of skipper John Robertson with crew Hannah Stodel and Steve Thomas.

Full results can be found here:

The second event was the Sail to Prevail regatta hosted by the St. Petersburg YC on February 23-27. Rick Doerr (Noroton YC) took top honors with 18 points, followed closely by Paul Callahan (Newport, RI / Cape Coral, FL) with 21 points and Bert Foster (Wayzata, MN) with 22 points.

You can find a full list of team, fleet and disabled racing events on the home page of by selecting the Calendar tab.


Click on image to enlarge

Peter Wilson's answer...

As many of you have guessed, the rules may not address this situation very clearly, and there is no 'case' or 'appeal' that deals with the tactical convention used by most of us when we want port to cross so we can keep going left.  Case 50 seems to make it pretty clear the port breaks rule 10 if starboard must alter down to avoid hitting her, complying with starboard's rule 14 obligation.

That said, most judges I have talked to about this situation would dismiss the protest since starboard clearly indicated that port should cross.  One could argue that as long as starboard alters down before she has to do so to avoid contact (the difference between the two situations depicted), then she is subject to rule 16.1 (ROW boat changing course) and if at that point port cannot tack without placing herself right in front of starboard, starboard gives port room to keep clear and neither boat breaks a rule.  If this perspective is correct, then one could argue that even if starboard hails 'cross', if she does not alter until she has to comply with rule 14, port breaks rule 10.

Happy to entertain additional perspective.


Feel free to leave your thoughts or comments below.