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Sonata Inland Championship at Windermere Cruising Association

by Neil Schofield 21 Mar 16:20 GMT 18-19 March 2023
Sonata Inlands at Windermere © S McGibbon

Having purchased Sonata 'Off Quay' between 3 of us shortly before Christmas, we'd set the Inland Championship hosted by the Windermere Cruising Association as a good early season target event to give us something to work towards. This brought some much-needed focus in tackling the extensive jobs list required to bring our yacht up to something approaching race spec.

We were therefore very thankful for all the support provided from the WCA, RWYC, Windermere Wardens at Ferry Nab and crews from the other boats in getting us afloat and racing. Moving from an International 14, 505 and RS400 respectively into a Sonata was always going to take a little getting used to! With Nathan Batchelor away dinghy sailing we drafted in RNYC Ancient Mariner Phil Murray and Windermere local Richard Rigg to make up our crew alongside Neil Schofield and Adam Ovington.

The format was to be up to 6 short course 2 lap windward leewards per day over the 2 days; a format that had proved successful for the Sonata class over several years providing close racing, with tight finishes and quick turnarounds.

The forecast for the weekend had been dropping through the week and by Friday was looking like 3-6 knots from the S/SW on the Saturday. After a short postponement on the Saturday morning, we headed to the South lake for a first race in in a perfectly sailable 5-8 knot breeze which more or less held for the day. The gentle breeze moved between the S and the SW keeping the Race Team busy, despite this we competed the full 6 races planned over a relatively short W/L course with races in the 30-40 minute range.

Racing was close with 4 different race winners across the 6 races. 'Eric the Boat' from Roa Island Boat Club sailed by Steve Goacher, Tim Harper, Gareth Jones and Chris Robinson establishing a slight dominance with wins in races 1, 2 and 5 but with good consistency from 'Frankie the Rhino' (Tony Woods, Coniston) and Aquila (Nick Holt, Blackpool and Fleetwood) meant there were two boats still within striking distance of the lead. Race wins for 'Old School' (Ian McMillan, Liverpool YC) in race 3 and Off Quay (Neil Schofield, Tynemouth Sailing Club) in race 4 established some mid fleet competition especially when the discards began to hit.

The Royal Windermere hosted an excellent evening meal on the Saturday night which was well attended by the fleet and guests. Speaking as newcomers to the fleet it was great to be able to discuss boat set ups and benefit from the freely given advice on how best to sail a Sonata. We were also lucky to have local legend and super crew Richard Rigg who kept us right all weekend.

Sunday saw us head to the south lake again and a short postponement for the breeze to come in before getting under way with a first W/L, the wind in the from SSW 6-8 knots. 5 races in total completed with the wind clocking right throughout the day at times building to perhaps 8-10 knots at times.

'Eric the Boat' found the go button and posted a clean sheet of race wins with 'Aquila' and 'Frankie the Rhino' generally fighting for the remaining podium spots, leading to both boats tied for 2nd on 23 points. 'Off Quay' had a solid day of mid fleet results to take 4th, 'Old School' dropping to 5th, 'Alchemy' 6th and 'Not Another One' 7th.

For the 4 of us on Off Quay we thoroughly enjoyed the event, the close racing and the support offered by the fleet. Special thanks from us must go to Chris Robinson of Goacher Sails for repairing our spinnaker on Saturday evening. We're very much looking forwards to the Nationals in September.

Overall Results:

PosSail NoBoat NameR1R2R3R4R5R6R7R8R9R10R11Pts
1GBR8748NEric the boat11‑331‑41111111
38199Frankie The Rhino‑424‑5224232223
48186Off Quay‑55513‑62444331
5GBR8011Old School2‑6145355‑63533
78280Not Another One‑7‑777777777763

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