By Max Bentley
I have always liked going to Burnham Week with my Dad on BFG as the sailing is good, the social is very good and they are a nice bunch of people there. I have always come home to the Cadets at Medway Yacht Club and told them about how good the week has been so, this year, I thought why not get a Sonata and take a team up there and see how we fare.
Finding the boat was one of the hardest parts but we borrowed one that had been sitting in the water for 2 years and was in need of some TLC. The team I put together got it out of the water and set to work. She was dropped back in the day before we left. The next day we set off down river and up the east coast to Burnham. It was pretty boring as it was under engine till halfway then we got some sails up. We thought we had better try and get some practice with the kite doing gybes all over the place and trying to get it right. Then we started going up wind working out the boat up wind and playing around trying to get the best out of her.
Once the racing had started we all settled down and got going. I didn’t thinking we were going to do that well as we were up against Figaro, a good MYC sailor and Serenity from West Mersea, who came 6th in the Nationals this year. I just wanted to get around the course but we came out on top and won the first race by a good margin. I was amazed with the boat and the crew but also thought it was bit of a beginners luck, but the next day we did the same and even better. We started to like this and to think about the overall of class 3. By the end of the weekend we were Sonata Eastern Area Champs. We were over the moon with this result and wanted to try harder to get the boat going faster to do well in the overall in class 3 but there were 4 boats that were sailed very well and we needed to make sure that we had consistently good races as they where very quick. But we were flying too, getting 4th and 3rd all week. Then on the Friday we got the bullet. It was one of the feelings I would never forget, winning a class 3 race. We ended up coming 4thoverall in class 3. The racing was good but there were a few days where it was all big boat stuff, with long foul tide downwind legs and the tide turning at the leeward mark so all the big boat where going win. The party and social was excellent. We met up with all the local cadets and they took us in like one of their own going out and having a good time. I am really glad we did it as at some points I didn’t think I would get there but we are very pleased with our results and can’t wait to campaign somewhere else. It would have been nice to have more Sonatas; there were only 3 for the easterns so it was a shame that there were not more boats to make it more interesting and competitive but apart from that we were very pleased at how well we did.
If any young people or non-Sonata sailors read this, I strongly recommend you to get your hands on a Sonata and get to an event as they are one of the best boats I have raced.
Thanks to Andy Baker who lent us ‘White Noise’ – it was a very good boat. And to the team to made it possible, Johnny Hewat ,Eddie Hobart-Smith and Victoria Wright.
(Ed Note: This crew’s combined age is just 72 and this was the first time they had sailed as a team and the first time they had raced a Sonata together. Well done indeed!)
1 White Noise – Max Bentley
2 Figaro – Steve Rolland
3 Serenity – Edward Harrison