It was “Sonar month” at the Noroton Yacht Club in Darien, Connecticut, this past September, as it hosted not only the Sonar North American Championship regatta but the class’s team-racing Kirby Cup. Both events were also attended by famed Sonar creator Bruce Kirby, who is also a Noroton YC club member.
Winning this year’s nationals was the Noroton YC’s Karl Ziegler at the helm of Spitfire, making it his third time taking the title. Ziegler also won the Sonar world in 2015. Nearly 40 boats took part in the 2018 regatta.
Winning the Kirby Cup was a team from the New York Yacht Club, with Vineyard Haven coming in second and a pair of teams from the Norotan YC coming in third and fourth.
Just as interesting as the racing, if not more so, was what Kirby, now in his late 80s, had to say about the current state of naval architecture in an interview with the regatta’s sponsors, Jaguar and Land Rover.
According to Kirby, who also created the Laser and the Ideal 18 sloop: “Builders seem to be in a mad dash for speed. A boat is only better if it’s faster, like the new super multihulls and all the foiling hulls. I’d like to see new designs that don’t put owners lives at risk! I’m not sure the broad consumer market really values speed as much as current designers think they do. I don’t want to sound like a stick-in-the-mud, and I’ve always tried to stay abreast of modern concepts. I just wonder if flat-out speed adequately replaces the splash of the bow wave and the gentle heel of the hull. Do we really want boats that require crash helmets and flak jackets?”
All you other naval architects out there, take note! For more on the two events, visit norotonyc.org.
Photos courtesy of Dan Tucker