By Chris Bentley,
August 28, 2017
You will pardon me if I witter on a bit. This is my, personal view of us, backed by research of comparable classes and industry trends. What I hope is to prompt the Class into reacting to my suggestions and comments and come up with other ideas. We, in my opinion, have not been very good at communicating with each other about such stuff, let alone telling the world what we are up to. I am using the website rather than social media for this sort of discussion for good reason. It is then all in one, easily accessible and threadable place. Facebook, et al, is great, but for different reasons and applications. Hope you agree.
Let me set out where I think the Sonata Class is at, with some questions for you, then make some suggestions as to where we go next.
First, the negatives:
We have experienced a decline in membership of the NSA, not huge, but a steady decline over the past few years. Most subs only get paid prior to a Nationals.
Recently, particularly, the value of our boats has dropped through the floor, in common with a lot of similar-sized boats that fall into the category of older GRP craft.
Area race events are not well attended if they happen at all. (This is common to other similar one design classes).
Area fleet sizes are, in the main, diminishing with previously growing numbers declining or almost vanishing. This has left us with geographically separated pockets of boats who race each other in Club one-design starts if numbers suffice or in handicap starts if not.
On the positive side:
Nationals are still well attended. We compare well with our peer classes. Poole included a separate start for twin-keels, who did very well and initiated a joining up of the Class as a whole.
The social, racing and camaraderie experienced at all the Nationals I have attended, (first one, 2004), is magnificent.
The message that a Sonata can be trailed, whilst previously only well known to a few, is spreading and travelling is increasing. More people own trailers.
We have an age profile spanning several decades and we are far from becoming an old buffers Class.
Our strict one-design rules and RYA National Class status, not to mention hard work by the NSA, has stood us in good stead over the years and, as a Class, we have survived in a period when others have perished.
We have a steady flow of new owners demonstrated by used boat sales.
Questions to debate:
Since the 2012 AGM at Medway, when the £100 travel bursary was introduced, we have seen a reasonably strong participation at Nationals, less so at area events, the recent Southerns attracted only 5 boats, a great shame as Seaview, Isle of Wight, was very, very good on all counts. The Northerns, anything on the Lakes, have not taken place for a while now. Today’s time-critical lifestyles mean that few are prepared to sacrifice work time, despite NSA Nationals becoming four-day events over a weekend and areas, just a weekend long. We discussed this at the AGM. There are arguments in either direction. On the one hand, a Thursday – Sunday event limits the number of work days sacrificed, although adding a day either end for travellers involves another two work days ‘lost’. A 5 day, weekday, event involves one more work day but leaves the weekends either side for travelling, possibly a nicer option for family crews. Which do you prefer for Nationals? What about Areas?
There are arguments for and against the Bursary. Some say it is unfair because it only benefits the travelling racing proportion of the Class. Should we therefore continue to award it at all? Would we have had less numbers at race events over the past 5 years if we had not instituted it? Given that non-racing or non-travellers get no equivalent supplementary benefit, should we continue with it and/or come up with a matching benefit for everyone else?
We increased the membership fee to £25, again in 2012. Has that contributed to the declining numbers or would it have happened anyway? Owners who do not travel to race events get no obvious benefit from their sub. Should we reduce the membership fee?
If we hope to at least arrest the decline in membership, maybe reverse it, what sort of people should we be trying to attract?
The definition of ‘a Cruiser’ is now larger than ever, a 42ft boat is considered relatively small. RYA and British Marine stats endorse this. As a marina owner, I can too. Also, dinghy numbers are in decline, (same sources), particularly two-handed craft. The trend is towards more single-handers. Paddle boarding is a growth area. Even the recent Fastnet had more two-handed boats than ever before.
This tells us three things:
Those who can afford a ‘cruiser’ demand size, comfort like never before. They are not in the market for a Sonata alone, although quite a few of our owners also own other boats.
Dinghy sailors, even the above mentioned cruiser owners are choosing to single-hand or short-crew likely because the difficulty of sourcing crew and time constraints mean it is the best option to get afloat. A 22ft keelboat that needs 4 crew to race it effectively and its own (relatively expensive) deep-water mooring is not that attractive to a young dinghy sailor. The perceived “step-up” for a dinghy sailor to a Sonata may, in fact, be a rare occurrence. Take a look at our members, quite a few of them own Sonatas as a second boat, the other one a Family Cruiser, or racing dingy. They divide their time between the two, can afford to do so.
New entrants to our sport are increasingly choosing highly portable one-person craft. Paddle boards fulfil this perfectly as they also require few skills to mange getting afloat. Kite surfing provides a lot of the young thrills with the whole kit in a bag that single handed dinghies and windsurfers did. These are trends, of course, and Class dinghies, some Class keelboats are doing well in specific areas or within specific classes.
Looking around at the Poole and Strangford Nationals, there was a mix of ages spanning decades. There was a mix of owners who had owned their boats for decades but a few who had bought a boat off E-Bay, re-rigged it and sold it on afterwards. Not easy to define a typical Sonata owner!
So, what can we (I) do to increase the appeal of Sonatas, or, at least, maintain the status quo?
Looking at other classes: (a few examples)
(The classes that have done well in terms of boat value, increased ownership, strong allegiance):
Amongst these are, let’s call them keelboats with ‘cachets’. Often older than Sonatas. Often wooden. Examples being Dragons, (International Class that has developed via changing to GRP construction and rule changes).
XOD’s. A Solent Class that thrives on heritage, (wooden, local design, boat)
Any local dayboat Class that has been adopted by a club or a bunch of local owners who restore them at massive expense. Examples are, Seaview Mermaids, ROCODs and RBODS, respectively, they being the One Design Classes on the River Crouch, now, obsessively raced by old, definitely, old, EORA offshore owners in the river. I should mention that the value of any of the above is in the many thousands, often, tens of thousands. Contessa 26, Folkboats. Fifteens, Melges. For a variety of reasons, these classes are thriving.
Those who haven’t done so well:
The comparable, age/construction GRP classes: 7o7s, Sigmas, Impalas, Sadlers, Trappers. Loads of different smaller classes. Where are they now? Check their websites. It was a function of too many different designs hitting the 70s/80s market at once. Same happened with dinghies a bit later.
Where does that leave Sonatas? We have a ’70’s GRP design, miles away from today’s high-tec possibly, foiling classes, so we cannot compete with those who can afford to run a hi-tech dinghy or sportsboat on a ‘thrill’ level. Or with the more “Classic” one designs who’s owners are prepared to spend fortunes on restoring.
Nevertheless, we, because of the boat design and because of the strict application of the one-design rules, have ended up with several advantages in today’s market.
It remains one of the safest, strongest, seaworthy boats of its size. It is relatively quick and will out-pace and certainly out-point much larger boats of similar vintage and younger. Good performance, then, except it doesn’t plane, but then, neither do Dragons, Contessas, etc. The inability to plane, oft raised as a Sonata big disadvantage, is a side issue, in my opinion. 7o7s, Bulls, Corks, Projections do plane, but where are they now?
It is very much a one-design, rules have always been constructed to avoid ‘cheque-book’ sailing.
Great ‘Bangs for Bucks’ too, especially right now.
There are still plenty of them. Their longevity was attested at the Poole Nationals, for example, where old hulls were revitalised and re-rigged into competitive boats for little expense. It is instructive to check out www.sailboatdata.com which lists hundreds of boats by designer, builder, etc and quotes numbers built. Sonata’s at c400, have more than quite a few. Which means that NSA Membership at c50 only represents an eighth of the Sonatas out there somewhere.
We have the finances to back up almost anything we want to do to bolster the Class (see 2016/7 Accounts).
Put your thinking caps on, then, and feed me some ideas. Here’s five from me to get you started:
Appoint a rep for each Fleet to regularly update me via email on Fleet activities. The world needs to know what we are up to. I will promulgate it to wherever necessary. A PR exercise.
List your Fleet to me, boats, owners, state of play, (declining/growing), members of NSA or not. I need a picture of who I will be talking to.
Help me track down Sonata owners who are not NSA members. I can’t persuade them to join if I don’t know them. I would rather persuade, but in fact our Class Rules are completely clear, if you race a Sonata type boat in any race at all where your status/handicap is based on your boat conforming to the Class Rules and are not an NSA member, your boat is NOT a Sonata.
Every Nationals at least has a shirt. I made a Medway Fleet shirt some years ago. Would you like a National Sonata shirt, personisable by event, boat, even shirt type/colour but a consistent design to promote the Class as a whole? Advantages of bulk buying would apply. Initial bulk purchase maybe subsidised by NSA Funds. A merchandising exercise with PR benefits. A benefit for our non-racers.
Give an “Earlybird” discount to £10 for subs received by 31st Jan 2018.w
Excellent summary and call to arms Chris. You mention people who’ve bought a Sonata cheaply and refurbished it as a competitive boat. Maybe one of them might have a story interesting enough to be published in one of the yachting mags?
I first tried to post this on Tuesday but it hasn’t been letting me, maybe because I’m new, but if the forum won’t let me post I can’t be blamed for not responding to the above.
First of all, thank you Chris, I agree with much of your message and you’re desire to prompt the class into responding. Actually I’m quite disappointed that I’m only 2nd to reply after 2 days, and I’m sure Chris must be more disappointed so come on people! – hopefully it’s just no-one wanting to go first, so I shall have a go.
Quick intro as very few of you will know me. I bought my Sonata, Tiger Rag, last winter and sail her at Whitby. I’ve been racing at Whitby since 2010 – Tiger Rag is my 3rd boat, I downsized from a 1/2 tonner. This season we have been getting used to the boat club racing at Whitby. Next season we plan to be more active and travel to an away event or two.
So I’m not an expert on the Sonata fleet, but as a new owner I can tell what attracted me to the class – and so what should be attractive to others.
- Less crew required. This was the biggie, to race the 1/2 tonner needed at least 4 (supposed to have 7) and I simple got sick of chasing crew, so I wanted a boat the the wife and I could take on our own
- Competitive on handicap. Whilst struggling with an under-crewed 30 footer the Sonatas which were able to keep up and then bag all the prizes on handicap (NERR system in Whitby – it’s a measurement system a bit like IRC used on the North East Coast) made me rather envious. Many club races will tell you it’s the taking part that counts – then they complain when they lose.
- Cost. I was able to sell my old boat pocket 2/3 of the cash and buy Tiger Rag with the rest. And moorings and maintenance are cheaper too.
- Trailable. 3 reasons this is important – I can take it home for winter to work on as I live an hour from the coast, I have more chance of getting to away events (the dream of sailing there in a big boat was simply to time consuming), I won’t get stuck paying storage on it if I’m ever unable to use it for a while – I’ll simply take it home.
- One design class. Other than the opportunity to race like for like at events the attraction of this to me is that you know what you’re getting and that there are plenty of people around with the same thing who can give advice. My last boat was a much rarer thing so I could find little information on it – and sometimes its performance (or lack of) was a complete mystery, I didn’t know if it was me or the boat – If you can’t make a Sonata go you know it’s you!
Back to point 1 then. As Chris mentioned people are choosing to sail short crewed. And a Sonata isn’t a short crew boat – 4 crew required. Except that several Sonatas I know compete regularly in club races with 2, and do pretty well. I know I’m not the only person to buy a Sonata with the intention of 2-handing the majority of the time, it is actually a major benefit of our boats that they can be sailed well with less crew than the bigger boats. I wonder therefore if consideration should be given to allowing 2-handed boats into some events, the thought of having to find extra crew (and potentially disrupting a good team) may put some off doing even local events. Whilst 2-handers may struggling to compete at the very top I’m sure they could be worthwhile additions to the fleet – and I reckon in the right conditions surprise a few.
Maybe a prize for top 2-hander will tempt them. (just an idea – but as no-one else has had any ideas )
Moving on to attracting new-comers. My experience is that the vast majority of new yachts in clubs are bought by crew members from other boats who fancy trying it for themselves. Sonatas should be very attractive for this as they are low cost and competitive. Perhaps the facts that they are relatively easy to sail and there is lots of advice available to new-comers need to be promoted somehow to attract these people.
And finally events. Well if I’m going to get my boat onto it’s trailer and tow it across the country to an event I want it to be worthwhile. And as I’m going to sail that means lots of racing. I think at least 3 preferably 4 days of densely packed racing. And a nice bar to go in afterwards. Cost will always be an issue so I think the bursary is good. And any other help we can wrangle – cheap lift in, moorings etc. And a shirt is always nice.
Regional events maybe should be shorter weekend events. I do think effort should be made to get them going again too. I think the problem with the Northerns has been lack of volunteers at clubs to run them. I can only suggest the association does whatever it can to assist making the running as easy as possible for the hosts, maybe go as far as helping provide race officers.
Right I think that’s all from me for now.
Oh, one last thing. I’d pay early if it was £10.
Congratulations (?) on becoming class chairman again. Your enthusiasm for the class is superb.
Hopefully this means that you will delay your blue water plans and come and do the RTI again in 2018, nine hour ding-dong battle this year was one of the highlights of my sailing season.
I agree with much of what you say. You are quite right that there are not many boats which will give you as much enjoyment on such a limited budget. Nat also makes a very good point that not having to rely on a large crew is a huge benefit. To keep two Sonatas crewed throughout our Tuesday evening series this Summer took a crew pool of fifteen and even then there were many occasions when we only had three per boat.
We had four Sonatas in Cowes Week this year, the most for a number of years. We were racing in under IRC in class 7 where the entry was the lowest I can remember with only two Folkboats, an H Boat a Jo Richards’ ‘special’ based on an Alacrity 19, and an Elizabethan. With one or two exceptions nearly the whole fleet in class 7 were Cowes based boats.
The Southerns at SeaView was a great event and if the Southerns are at Poole in 2018 then we will attend. Medway may be a bit of a stretch but let’s see.
I am happy to volunteer as a Solent Rep unless someone else wants the role.
£10 membership for early payment works for me and is a good idea.
The bursary seems reasonable to me as it helps promote the class. I’d go one further and pay the bursary AND entry fees for any boat entering a class event with at least three of the crew aged under 25.
I managed to lose my sonata.org.uk boom stickers but think they are a great idea, can we get some more printed?
Sonata shirts are also a good suggestion.
One proposal I’d like to make is that we consider adding another manufacturer’s mast to our class rules. At the moment only Selden make a rule compliant ‘stick’ but it’s expensive………..and I should know! During our most recent re-rig I went to Z Spars for a quote and it was approximately 50% of the cost of the Selden but it’s not ‘in class’. Z Spars told me that they have supplied masts for a number of Sonatas recently…….all of which will now be out of class. Perhaps Steve might be willing to look at the Z Spar spec and advise if we could sensibly amend the class rules to allow it?
Good luck as chairman and hope to see you and Sharon in 2018.
Thank you for taking on the chair again.
You have made a lot of very valid comments as have the 2 people who have responded. Regarding the class membership charges I think if you pay by standing order/ direct debit the cost should be cheaper say £15 otherwise it should be whatever the committee decide.
Regarding racing I think that lifting keel boats and furling genoas should be permitted to race in class as a large number of the cruising boats have a furling genoa and it might encourage them to come out racing. I really don’t know if lifting keels have any advantage but rather doubt it so it is really just getting extra boats on the water. I also think that only having 2 of a crew should be allowed as crewing is becoming a problem and there is rarely any benefit in being 2 up.
Can I also add my thanks for you taking the chair and also to Joe for the work he did. Similarly Martin Hartley has done a great job looking after the technical issues and keeping his patience with the RYA!
I haven’t done much Sonata racing in the past few years due to work and dinghy commitments but hope to get back out in 2018 season. Saraband has however been used by a number of crews at Tarbert and elsewhere and I think this is something that others should consider………there are lots of young and older potential Sonata sailors who can be trusted to race your boat if you cannot be available yourself. In my experience they always look after the boat, it comes back clean and with no damage. Insurance companies are fine with it so long as it is not a charter.
With regard to events……
1) The £100 bursary is a nice to have but has never been the decider on whether I decide to race or not. More importantly for me has been if there is sensibly priced (or free!) craning for visitors or a decent slipway if it is a fresh water venue. I really think we need to select those venues that get that sorted for visitors……in my experience Strangford, Sunderland, Whitby and Scarborough all got this right…..the Rhu (Clyde) lifts were expensive with little flexibility by the marina and I haven’t sailed at any of the south or east coast venues to make any comment on those.
2) Personally I would suggest we stop the £100 bursary for the majority but increase it to £200 for anyone transiting the Irish Sea, in either direction. Someone suggested we should retain a bursary if there are a number of younger sailors and I could go with that idea.
3) I like 4 day nationals but accept that effectively you still need to take the Wednesday and Monday off if travelling…….which rather diminishes the case for not having the older week long format. Renting houses also easier on the week long events. I will go with the majority on this but probably would favour the week long format.
4) I typically sail with 2 male / 2 female and as such probably have less weight on the rail than many boats. Steve Goacher did once suggest that I should consider sailing 5 up, but that just gives me another crew to find plus increases the costs of travel, accommodation etc. As I have got better at sailing the Sonata it is possibly less of an issue than before, but there is definitely an issue at top end of #1 genoa but when the gap to changing to the #3 is too big. There are certainly times when I wish I had a #2 (not allowed) or that the #3 was re-designed to be a more powerful sail than currently allowed………making it a proper blade #3 rather than a glorified working jib!
My 3/4 tonner, now sold, had a much easier transition from heavy #1 to blade # 3 with no noticeable gap in performance.
Other boats have updated their rigs and if properly managed and with due notice to allow people to budget for purchase there is little disadvantage to the fleet….for example the Flying Fifteens have decided to change their headsail and have ended up with a boat that looks better, goes well and apparently with lower sheet loads etc. We are ideally placed with Steve Goacher as our Technical Officer to manage such a trial and then adoption.
There is one Sonata on the south coast that has adopted a new blade #3 sail, supplied by Sanders, and sheeting to existing genoa tracks. This has resulted in a very favourable IRC rating when taken as the largest headsail. The owner, who’s name I forget, reported that the boat sailed very well with it.
5) Two crew for racing seems to me to be a good idea and as others have said, carries little or no advantage in almost any of the conditions we race in.
6) I own race a number of dinghies and the two that are doing well at events and bringing in new members (RS300 and Hornets) seem to have the balance right……the websites provide technical information, classified adds, event calendars and information etc. The Facebook pages provide an unregulated forum for banter, abuse, chivying of attendance at events, loaning of equipment, provision of floor space for travelling crews etc. Both mediums are actively used and updated but have different purposes.
In contrast, The FD class has a much more tightly controlled website and Facebook environment, with posts moderated before posting, removing much of the banter and also delaying communication. It’s not the only reason the class is failing in the UK but it certainly isn’t helping……
The Scottish Sonata Facebook pages were started by the Old School team ( I think?) and have proved a great forum for getting people aware of events, sorting out boat loans, crews etc.
I would encourage the wider UK class to have a similar approach to the RS300 and Hornets communication, particularly the RS300, ……an active website to discuss formal / technical matters and the Facebook pages to create a wider social media presence for our class.
Id like to start first of all by adding my thanks to both Joe and Martin for the years of service to the class, and what I have considered to be an excellent job. And welcome back of course to Chris!
A few thoughts from me-
1. Publicity etc- this was discussed at the AGM, and I think that the objective of increasing the classes visibility is a great one. How this is done is of course a little more difficult. The most basic thing for me that the class could do is to make sure that there are photos! A professional photographer at all the big events would be a great thing, and might well cost the class very little, with an arrangement that the association is provided some for promotional purposes, and the rest of us can buy as we desire. I realised the other day that I don’t have a single decent photo of So sailing, and Im sure that enough of us would want to buy photos, so that all the class would likely have to do is guarantee a minimum of orders. Worst case we use a few of the surplus pounds in the bank.
How we get those photos out there is of course the next thing, but it gives us something to try to show the exciting racing we have. I had difficulty with getting crew for the nationals, and had three different people as my 4th at the nationals, all new to sonata racing, but experienced racers. All three were shocked by how fantastic the racing was. We need to spread the word.
2. The class owned boat- I accept that this may be a silly idea, but I wonder could we use this as a way of promoting the class to some younger sailors? Run a competition of some sort with the youth sailors in the region of the nationals, the prize is a sonata ready to race for them at the nationals?? Liase with the local class to see how this competition might be done. Maybe even run it at a boat show?? Im not sure the boat is up to a nationals at present, however between us all Im sure we have enough kit in the garage etc that we could give up to turn it into a boat which could reasonably compete. For example could happily donate a no1. By turning it into a competition, could this produce enough interest? Im not sure, but could at least get another boat on the start line, could even get another crew into the class. The boats are so very cheap now that a youth crew could buy and run a Sonata for less than a laser, the key is to get them interested (and make sure they know that its not expensive to run)
3.The travelling bursary- Im a big fan of this. I actually believe that it may make the difference between travelling and not for some crews, and if it does add even a couple of boats at the events then it is worth it. Ultimately it is (in my opinion) the racing side of the class which represents the more active side of class activities, and this should be supported. I should add that just because it is there members don’t need to claim it. I chose not to this year as I was only an hour up the road, cranes were included and I stayed on board, so was a cheap event. Lining events close to each other may help increase entries also, for example should the nationals be near the southerns, and it possible to drive to one, leave the boat for the other, then drive back, that would be of interest, although logistics of course are often difficult.
4. Definitely keen for t-shirts/polo shirts etc, after all its free advertising, especially if we could personalise to our own boats. Many of us already do this. Would like to see the return of battle flags also. Maybe large stickers for your car/trailer??
5. I don’t believe that there is a need for any sort of reduction in membership fees. £25 is a very reasonable price, and I suspect an early bird discount of £10 would lead to a significant reduction in income, and the income should be protected to use to promote the class. An annual direct debit however (perhaps with a small reduction incentive to maybe £20 ) would be a massive improvement. I didn’t race last year annoyingly, so never thought to join the class, though would have happily. I would sign up for a renewing direct debit in a flash. Paypal should be an option to (at the higher price), the process of joining should be as easy and simple as possible. People don’t like digging out code cards for bank transfers or bothering to send cheques.
As a small aside I don’t think “if you race a Sonata type boat in any race at all where your status/handicap is based on your boat conforming to the Class Rules and are not an NSA member, your boat is NOT a Sonata” is the way our class should be putting our case to potential new members, nor am I sure that it is accurate if you are racing off handicap (IRC or other). Rather we should be saying that theres lots of us out here with a good active community, and benefits to being a part of it.
6. Finally with regards to events, I see the benefit to the week long nationals, and the four day event. I was thinking about this at length and actually I am not sure which will produce more entries, or even I prefer. I remember the last time I raced a sonata on the lakes (cant recall which one) we raced 4 races a day, and it was great. So lots of races per day is definitely my preference. I agree absolutely no reason to not allow 2 handed boats. The rules could easily simply be simplified to allow any number of crew, but that number not to change over the event (to prevent changing for conditions)
Anyway, thats a few thoughts from me from my perspective. I suppose I am in a slightly odd situation where I am not part of a fleet anywhere, somewhat of a nomad! Its the standard of the events, and the people who attend them that make it worth having the boat even though it spends most of her time on the trailer, because it is worth it when I can get together with all of you!
Thanks all of you that took the trouble to respond. Excellent ideas.
Let me try to rationalise the way forward, based on your comments:
1. PUBLICITY. Agreed we need more. (Any!)
2. SUBS. My best solution is a Standing Order, payable early, attracting a discount down to £20
3. FLEET REPS. None of you touched on this save Chris Halewood, who offered himself
4. SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE. Shirts, boom stickers, Sonata flags, car/trailer anywhere stickers yes. NSA can do this.
5. BURSARY. My choice is to leave it as is. If individual owners don’t want to claim, some don’t, fair does
6. NSA BOAT. Mentioned by Gareth. I have ideas. Needs more discussion
7. LENGTH OF EVENTS. See MYC plans for 2018 Nationals.
Hope that’s summarised where we are at on the points above. Let me add detail as necessary.
1. PUBLICITY. Yes to a pro, or at least, good amateur photographer at Nationals and Areas, Scottish Series, Cowes, RTI. Some of these may have covered with their event photographers, to whom we need access. NSA can fund the taking. Individuals can buy prints or digital direct. I will talk to Jack about setting up a Gallery page on the website which the Press, or any of us, can access hi-res pics from. Meanwhile, out there with you lot, and many others, resides a whole archive of pics, personal and taken by pros in the past, see this website for an example, and if you give me access to them, they go in the Gallery. Do it now.
Information. I am not Houdini. I cannot conjour race reports, event stories, out of thin air, especially if I am not there, which I won’t be most of the time. I need text as well as pics. After an event, or even during, I need it fast, like, in hours, if I have any chance of getting media attention. To achieve that, I need the area reps as 3 above, and a fair few volunteers, please, you out there. Access to me is easy, text, email, most document formats acceptable.
I have the media access, expertise to achieve it, just need you to feed me stuff.
4 and 5, SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE AND BURSARY. Implies an expenditure by NSA which will need to be costed properly, but fear not on two counts: NSA is quite well off. The Treasurer is sitting right next to me. Given my Committees approval, I see no problem.
6. NSA BOAT. Interesting that Gareth raised this. We, NSA, have a possible boat FOC. Needs work to restore. Currently in Cornwall. My problems devolve, right this minute to three:
I cannot, currently, persuade a Sonata Club to take it on, “responsibility” is quoted
Even if I can persuade sailmakers, trailer/mast manufacturers, various other suppliers to subsidise its renovation, no takers yet, why not look at NSA buying a complete boat at, say, £1500, which is what they are out there valued at instead?
A Sonata is not a particularly cheap boat to keep. There’s moorings, insurance and maintenance. Currently, again, and have tried a few avenues, no takers to subsidise, offer freebies.
if any of you can suggest differently, I would be delighted to hear from you.
If, and only if, we could solve some of the above, the major value to the Class would be PR/Publicity. A cracking story, worthy of much media attention, which I would ensure it got. If I added in “introducing young persons into sailing, maybe, disabled/disadvantaged persons, the PR value would escalate. There are many sailing organisations out there, doing that right now. But, as far as I am aware, mostly with bigger boats. A Sonata is “grass roots” at its best. A USP, then.
7. LENGTH OF EVENTS. Patently, MYC have decided on the 5-day, weekday, format. A departure from recent Nationals. The dates are 20th – 24th August, weekdays. Let’s see how they do with that.
I need to move fast on all the above, if it is to have value. I need to talk to a whole lot more Sonata owners to get it right. If you have read this and not responded, please take a minute to do so. If you have responded and this is the result, feel free to endorse or condem. If you know of others who would be interested, persuade them to respond.
I cannot work in a vacuum, people, I need you to take part.
Here is an update on the above two topics.
Fleet Reps. I now have three including, importantly, a Medway one promised. More needed, please.
Shirts. I have found a uniform/sportswear company who do a large range of suitable clothing, tees, polos, rugby, fleeces, etc. They will put our overall design on anything, post it on their website for us to individually order off with personalisation if required. Sounds very simple to me. If the costs are ok, I will organise that.
Sailplan/NSA Sonata. These are two big topics and I need a bigger spread of oipinion. I have now got the membership database from Catherine and will email it to point members at this forum. Also I have written a “begging letter” to SBS Trailers to see what we might be able to buy one for, imperative for the NSA boat and potentially, a killer expense.
Subs. Whilst mailing the whole membership, I will include a plan for paying these at a new rate and in a new way. I need our Committee’s approval for this, so, wait and see. Also, the opportunity to buy flags, car/boom stickers.
Windermere Winter Opportunity: initially raised by Catherine and I have subsequently chatted to Stephen McGibbon, Secy of the Winderemere Cruising Association, who for 40 years have run the Windermere Winter Series and is keen to invite Sonatas. Could be our “Inlands” this winter. Also, probably the only opportunity to trial either a blade jib or a furler against our existing rig before next season. Plus, we need some PR output ASAP and it would be that too. How about it, chaps? Stephen said that there are “normally a good showing of Sonatas”, the SBS 20’s are having a Championship within the WWS, sounds very good to me.
Photos Reminder. Please have a search. What I need to make a “Gallery Page” on the website is hi-res pictures for Press Use. “Lifts” from electronic media don’t work for printed press. They should be either pro or very good pics that portray Sonatas well. I can receive them in a variety of ways. If pro, I will need to either credit the taker or pay a fee to use. They are out there, Jack has used lots of them on the site here, but, again, all at lo-res.
On the Membership Database is a description and brief history of every boat listed. Would that be of interest to have published? I must admit, I had no idea we had that. It’s an archive, also useful for a potential purchaser to find out the history of a boat. I would make it accessible so current owners could add or amend if necessary, bit like Wikipedia. Any comments?