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 sailor, spacious and comfortable to sit in all day long. It had to be trailerable, plus easy to launch for wet or dry sailing. Plus 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 prototype Sonar sailing off Noroton, March, 1980.
The result was the Sonar. The Noroton Yacht Club got every thing they wanted and more. And the Sonar has been greeted with enthusiasm by individuals and clubs all over the world.
When the Sonar was designed and orders taken for the first fleet of boats at Noroton Yacht Club, in Darien, Connecticut, the original fleet members recognized a need to create an organization with a Constitution, By-laws and Class Rules that control the growth of the class. Early membership was just a few key people, but these people had a passion for this new and very special boat and their passion spread as new fleets sprang up around North America. Early membership grew at a rapid pace as boats were built. Sonars worldwide now number over 700 with fleets in over six countries.
sail area 250 ft²
spinnaker area 245 ft²
hull weight 2100 lbs.
# of boats built not known
active US fleets MD, FL, CA, MA, CT, RI, VA, NY