Summer arrived right on queue for the 2012 Sonata National Championships 23rd -27th July.
23 boats from as far afield as Sunderland and Brixham took part during a week of sunshine and fair winds on the River Medway in Kent.
Hosted by the Medway Yacht Club, competitors enjoyed a series of 11 races with a mix of windward/leeward courses and two distance races in accordance with the National Championship format for this popular one-design class.
Competition was fierce with five different boats taking a bullet and just three points between the overall winner, Joe Cross sailing Presto (Poole Yacht Club) and David Matthews, White Magic, (Sunderland Yacht Club), a very close second. Local boat, Musical Express (Medway Yacht Club), sailed by Mike Harrison was third overall.
With a 15 – 20 mph wind on the first day, Race Officer Richard Stone swiftly set windward/leeward courses in Long Reach, some three miles downriver from the MYC. White Magic put two firsts on her scorecard with Presto taking the other. Local Sonatas Musical Express and BFG managed the remaining two seconds.
Tuesday arrived with lighter winds and, with the first race against the flood tide, most competitors chose to sail into the shallows to the Port tack layline which led to not a few substantial place changes as the Starboard tack boats piled in. White Magic came out best with two more wins and a second.
Wednesday was scheduled for a distance race with the hope that the breeze would hold for a visit to the Thames, some eight miles downriver. The beat towards the mouth of the Medway was slow against the flood tide and the fickle strength of the wind thew up some surprising results with mid-tide boats sometimes gaining places on those short-tacking up the banks. In the end, Presto got it right and took line honours.
Thursday stared late because the Westerly land breeze persisted and, wisely, Richard Stone postponed until the sea breeze kicked in around 12.00. Three windward/leewards were completed and, with the tide now ebbing in time for the first race, several local boats kindly parked themselves on various bits of mud to show the visitors exactly where the high spots were.
With the last day, Friday, scheduled as a single distance race, top placed boats Presto and Magic were just two points apart. Not far behind, Poole Sonata Selene and Medway’s BFG were separated by just one point for fourth place. The sea breeze was shy to arrive and the postponement was finally lifted at 12.30 to allow a rather short distance race in a very light breeze. Selene called the last beat to perfection and finally put a win to her results.
Overall winner, Joe Cross, Presto, ended the week with a net score of 15 points, including four wins and also took the Young Helm trophy (under 25). Joe and his equally young crew had dedicated their Nationals campaign to Mikey, their designated foredeck, who tragically died in a traffic accident before the event. A fitting tribute to the sad loss of a young life.