She is well built, well finished and is really a true little cruising yacht in many ways. She is fun to sail yet seaworthy enough for short cruises. As the Sonata has already shown herself capable of out-sailing larger boats, she is worth racing in handicap events where there is no one-design class.
The Sonata makes an interesting contrast to the E Boat. Round bilge rather than hard chine, with fractional rather than masthead rigged, she is almost identical in performance.
Raced with a regular crew of three or four, the Sonata can be equally cruised by a couple with children. The three-quarter rig places the emphasis strongly on mainsail trim, with the advantage of having smaller headsails than on a masthead-rigged boat. Moving straight from such a boat to the Sonata, it takes awhile to readjust to the rig.
Like earlier designs by David Thomas, the Sonata has a foredeck well covered by “bomb-doors” which can house a jib, hanked on ready to be hoisted, or the anchor and warp when cruising. It also forms the mouth of the spinnaker chute, with the spinnaker being led through the specially shaped pulpit, which acts as a launcher.
Accommodation and cruising
“A remarkable little boat” was how one judge described the Sonata. She has everything which you would look for on a cruising boat, but sometimes on a smaller scale. Galley facilities are limited but adequate, with a plastic bowl for the sink and water pumped straight from a container.
The pilot berth arrangement, whilst not being totally satisfactory for a large adult, would probably be fine for the average crew. The engine “installation” is particularly interesting, for the outboard is stowed on the bracket, which spans the space between the settees and slides away underneath the cockpit. In use, the outboard is clamped to a transom bracket, with the fuel can simply sitting on the cockpit sole.
The cockpit itself is large enough to take all the crew comfortably although, like so many others, it could be improved by having somewhere for the helmsman to brace his feet when sitting out.
One of the Sonata’s greatest strengths is the thing that makes or breaks a racing class – the class Association. It has the best produced handbook of any class, the widest series of meetings, and what seems to be the liveliest exchange of views. In the early days of many classes, the Association is, of necessity, looked after by a benevolent builder. The Sonata Association, thought it still has strong links with Hunter Boats, has shown how the next step should be taken towards an independent class, perhaps with greater international status.