11 October 2009

Sonar Worlds Report

2009 Sonar World Championship – Sonar 753- by Dan Gillis, Class of 2013
Looking back, Sonar Worlds was a challenge and adventure for all of us on 753. The event started out bright and early on Thursday morning, when we met for the skippers meeting. A few last minute reminders and comments were made, and the crowd of anxious Sonar sailors made their way to the launches to be taken to their respective boats. We got to our boat, rigged up, and sailed out into the Sound. The conditions were less than ideal for a boat as light as ours (around 550 pounds)… lots of wind and 2-3 foot waves. Nonetheless, we pounded through three races on the first day.
After a few general recalls at the start, we found ourselves being covered by most of the fleet off the start line. We tacked out quick and tried to hitch out to a corner, but the momentum lost by the starting line doomed us for the rest of the race. We had great downwind legs helping us claw back slowly at the pack, but there was as lot of pack to claw through. We finished with a rather disappointing 45th place. The next race was more of the same. We got off the line in a decent position, chose our side, and fought for it. The side we chose, however, did not pay off, and we found ourselves again fighting for positions in the back of the pack. We did not progress as far forward as we would have liked to, and finished our worst finish of the Regatta with 51st. Race three was yet again more of the same story… it seemed that Mother Nature was fighting against our light boat every inch of the race course. We finished 46th and headed back to the harbor for much needed rest and dry clothing.
Day two showed little change from day one. The wind and chop made for less than ideal conditions. We played our sides well with the first race, caught some great shifts and lifts, but once again, found our-elves fighting for position at the back of the fleet. Race four was finished in 50th place. The weather was relentless for the rest of the day, and our sailing spirit could not help us past 49th place in race five.
Saturday brought what we thought would be much needed change. The day started out with decent weather, calm seas, and a promise of good sailing for a light boat like ours. After drifting around the Sound for a few hours waiting for the Race Committee to start a race (due to the lack of wind), we finally were able to start. With a decent start, we fought hard to win our side, crossing boats when we could and hitting every shift right, winning our side. Unfortunately, the side we won was not the favored side. We fought to gain footing on the fleet, and managed to climb to 45th place for race six. While waiting for another race to start, the sky darkened and opened up with a heavy downpour. The races for the rest of the day were abandoned, and we were towed back to the Harbor amidst a rather ferocious thunderstorm.
Sunday promised one last day for us to show the Sonar fleet what we were made of. It was sunny, light winds, clear skies, and calm water. We were exited to finally race in some conditions we enjoyed, and our crew worked best in. We made it to the starting line, and once again found ourselves at a several hour delay waiting for wind to fill in to start a race. It finally did, although not much of it was present, and the seventh race began. We banked our money on a cloud formation towards the right side of the course, which we were hoping would provide some extra breeze for us to power towards the mark. This wind, however, never materialized, and we found ourselves spending the good part of an hour trying to make it to the mark. With no boats making it within 45 minutes, the Race Committee abandoned the race, and we found ourselves out of luck and done with our Worlds regatta.
Throughout the event, we received many thanks for attending. It seems the Sonar Class really enjoys our presence, and all we do to help the class run some of its regattas. The Academy was thanked for providing two mark boats and members of the power squadron to operate them.
In all, the experience was one that the whole crew enjoyed. We were sailing with legends- former World and National champions, the best Paralympics teams in the world, Bruce Kirby, the designer of the Sonar, and so many other accomplished sailors. That we had a chance to compete with this impressive fleet was more than we could ask for, and that we had some good sailing only made it better. The 2009 Sonar World Championship experience was one that will be in our minds for long time.

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