|Crew||3 or 4|
|LOA||7 m (23 ft)|
|LWL||6.1 m (20 ft)|
|Beam||2.4 m (7 ft 10 in)|
|Draft||1.2 m (3 ft 11 in)|
|Hull weight||950 kg (2,090 lb) of which
408 kg (899 lb) is ballast
|Main & jib area||23.2 m2 (250 sq ft)|
|Spinnaker area||22.8 m2 (245 sq ft)|
The Sonar showcased disabled sailing at the 1996 Paralympic where the sport was a demonstration event with just the Sonar. Sailing and the Sonar as the equipment for the three person keelboat have been in every subsequent Paralympics. When being sailed by disabled it is crewed by 3, and sailed without a spinnaker. Instead, when running downwind a whisker pole is used to hold the jib out to windward for maximum exposed sail area. The Sonar is well suited for disabled sailing because of its large cockpit making adaptations easy.
The Sonar was designed in 1979 by Bruce Kirby, designer of the popular Laser dinghy. Since then, over 800 boats have been built. Most of the fleet is in the USA, with smaller fleets in Britain and Canada. Since its adoption as a Paralympic class the Sonar has spread to many other countries as well.
The Sonar was inducted into the American Sailboat Hall of Fame in 2004.
It started when Bruce Kirby's home club (Noroton Yacht Club, Darien, CT USA) couldn't find the right boat to get their members involved in club racing; fewer and fewer of its members were participating.
They studied a great many existing classes of boats but all were considered too expensive, too slow, too demanding to sail, or just plain uncomfortable. So Bruce was asked to design a new boat specifically to meet the requirements of a club racing one-design keelboat fleet.
It had to be exciting to race, but easy to handle by sailors of all ages, strengths and skill levels. It had to be a really good day sailer, spacious and comfortable to sit in all day long. It had to be trailerable, plus easy to launch for wet or dry sailing. It had to be a safe, well behaved training boat to help teach new sailors how to sail and have fun doing it. Finally, it had to have a good but uncomplicated set of class rules.
The result was the Sonar. The Noroton Yacht Club got everything they wanted and more, and the Sonar has been greeted with enthusiasm by individuals and clubs all over the world.
Open Worlds Championships
2001, Noroton, CT
|Mark Ploch (USA)||Craig Sinclair (USA)||Steve Shepstone (USA)|
2004, St.Petersburg, FL
|Steve Shepstone (USA)||Peter Galloway (USA)||John Ross-Duggan (USA)|
|Steve Shepstone (USA)||Paul Bowen (GBR)||Peter Galloway (USA)|
2007, Marblehead, MA
|Bill Lynn (USA)||Greg Anthony (USA)||Rick Dominique (USA)|
2009, Noroton, CT
|Dave Franzel (USA)||Jud Smith (USA)||Karl Ziegler (USA)|
2011, Rhu, Scotland
|Steve Shepstone (USA)||Simon Barter (GBR)||Scott McLeod (USA)|
2013, Rochester, NY
|Eric Voss (USA)||Colin Gordon (USA)||Peter Galloway (USA) |
Disabled World Championships
The Sonar has also been used extensively for disabled sailing. The boat specifications are exactly the same for open and disabled sailing events, but additional adaptations are allowed to be fitted to the boat to aid the crew who are not permitted to hike or use a spinnaker. The International Association for Disabled Sailing has hosted the following ISAF recognized disabled sailing World Championship events:
The Sonar has been the equipment used for the three person keelboat discipline at every Paralympic Sailing Competition. Results and information on past events can be found on the following pages.
"The Sonar may well be the best boat I've ever designed." - Bruce Kirby
- "Keelboat Classes". US Sailing. Retrieved 28 July 2015.
- "The RYA Portsmouth Yardstick Number List for 2004" (PDF). Royal Yachting Association. Retrieved 17 September 2012.