The Sonar Awards dinner was held at the Manhasset Bay YC on Nov. 15. Could this year's celebration could get any better than the fun at last year's ceremony, when it was revealed that one lady of a "certain age," in the quest to win line honors for her Sonar team, tried a maneuver that ended up in a back flip off the transom of her boat. Quick thinking by crew had the damsel back on board in a nanosecond, soaking wet, but with nary a wasted minute. To showcase that moment, a group of sailors serenaded the group in rhyme to describe that fateful moment. It was a "move over Moosehead" moment, and tons of fun.

This year's celebration had, as they say, big shoes to fill. And fill them they did. Those in attendance would agree that the 2008 Awards were terrific and a night to remember. Herb Schmidt, founder of Sonar Fleet #11, celebrated his birthday on the evening of the awards and everyone got to honor, once again, the man who was the mover and shaker to grow the Sonar fleet. Even better, everyone got a piece of a very delicious cake. Not to be outdone, the "damsel" in distress mentioned above, and another crew member got engaged - on Halloween! There must be something about those Sonars.....but it just doesn't get better than this. One has to wonder what they will serve up next year!

Under the leadership of Herb Schmidt, and ably assisted by Bill Simon, the following are the top boats for the 2008 season: Championship Series 2008 - 25 racing days, with 12 days (45 percent) to qualify: 1. #375, Housemartin, Gregory and Beth Danilek, 2. #451, Ping, Sue Miller and John Browning, and 3. #421, Weekend Warrior, Bill Simon and Einar Haukeland. Saturday Series winners - 13 racing days, with 6 days (45 percent) to qualify: 1. 375, Housemartin, 2. 487, Viento, Jonathan Siener and Rick Dominique, and 3. #421, Weekend Warrior. Sunday Series - 12 racing days, with 6 days (45 percent) to qualify: 1. #451, Ping, 2. #375, Housemartin, and 3. #421, Weekend Warrior. The Tune-up Series - 4 racing days, 2 days (45 percent) to qualify: 1. #682, Puff, Ralf Steitz, 2. #568, Laurie B 2, Bob Baskind, and 3. #573, Selhun, Bahar Gidwani. Handicap Series - 4 racing days, with 2 days to qualify: 1. #568, Laurie B 2, 2. #573, Selhun, and 3. #479, Old Flame, Ed King. Crew Race - Memorial Day: 1. #487, Viento, Sean Flaherty, 2. #396, Delight, Alan Thompson, and 3. #753, USMMA, Eric Bardot. Crew Race 2 - Labor Day: 1. #678, Whimsey, Claes Larrson, 2. #396, Delight, Alan Thompson, and 3. #421, Weekend Warrior, Jonathan North. Labor Day Single-Handed Race: 1. #487, Viento, Rick Dominique, 2. #573, Selhun, Bahar Gidwani, and 3. #421, Weekend Warrior, Bill Simon. Long Distance Race: 1. #451, Ping, Sue Miller and John Browning, 2. #678, Whimsey, Ed Adler, and 3. #682, Puff, Ralf Steitz. Championship Series for the YRA of LIS: 1. #375, Housemartin, Gregory and Beth Danilek, 2. #451, Ping, Sue Miller and John Browning, and 3. #421, Weekend Warrior, Bill Simon and Einar Haukeland.

In addition to the awards given this year, as is tradition with the Sonar Fleet, each participant received a great gear bag with the Sonar logo on it. This is the same bag that was awarded to participants several years ago, but smaller. Some questioned if this was a subtle (or not so subtle) hint to bring less gear on board?

After the "official" awards ceremony, the fun really began with the "Ha Ha" awards, which honor those dubious feats that happen each year, which all recipients would rather forget. But there is no escaping the sharp eyes of the Sonar Fleet. The "Ha Ha" to beat them all is the Royal Order of the Coconut, which is described in brief below (written and delivered by scribe John Browning, who happens to also be a member of the Moosehead Committee):

The first day of Manhasset Bay Race Week this season brought fickle west-northwesterly breezes. Commodore Barry, in his traditional role of Principal Race Officer, seized the opportunity to place the weather mark tucked up under the Great Neck shoreline. After all, the event begins on a Friday and sailors should be made to feel as if they are actually at work. So why not place the weather mark where there is about as much chance for breeze as there is inside of the office water cooler? By the conclusion of racing this day the top seven boats were separated by a mere seven points after five races Parity had indeed infiltrated the ranks of Sonar Fleet #11....

Day two dawned with a slightly better forecast for wind, but as luck would have it, the breeze was right out of the west. This afforded Commodore Barry one more opportunity to inflict his brand of torture on the unsuspecting fleet. He dispatched a surveying party to the Great Neck coast once more. Their orders: to find a location within 25-feet of the beach that had at least four feet of draft. The party was successful and any crew that found themselves rounding the weather mark outside and three abreast was left with no alternative but to put the wheels down. Our intrepid young skipper and his able-bodied mate saw their chance. "If we can just get those (descriptive) on our weather quarter we'll run 'em right up into the rocks!"...

Our intrepid young skipper maneuvered his craft off the pin end of the starting line, got headed in a massive black-water puff, tacked and crossed the fleet. They were launched! Up the first weather leg, and down the first run and up the second weather leg, nobody was in sight. "We're gonna win this thing after all!" Just as they got around the final weather mark, heading down to the finish line, they fell into a hole. "Oh no, they're catching us, what can we do?" yelled the intrepid young skipper, to which his able-bodied mate replied to keep them out to the right. The two boats approached the finish line on starboard tack and overlapped to the right of the line. "What's that he's yelling at us, something about room?" "Gybe!" the able-bodied crew yelled. And the two boats gybed simultaneously within inches of each other.

"You've got him," the able-bodied crew exclaimed as they crossed the finish line. Boom was the next sound heard. "Was that the finish cannon?" our intrepid young skipper thought to himself. He looked back to see his adversary impaled on the bow of the committee boat. The "boom" was the toe rail slamming into the stem of the No. 3 launch, followed by a "plop" which was the sound of three pounds of marinetex from the bow of the committee boat hitting the surface of the water on its way to its briny grave. They've done it, the plan was complete - they'd crossed the finish line first and left their adversary fouled in the anchor rode of the committee boat.

So, this 15th day of November in the year of our Lord 2008, the members of Sonar Fleet #11 are proud to award the Royal Order of the Coconut with bent rudderpost tassels and kinked aluminum toe rail cluster to the crew of...... Now for all those interested, if you want to know the winners of this very "prestigious" award, you can go the Manhasset Bay YC website (, find the Sonar Fleet and look up the youngest skippers and by process of elimination, figure out the skipper's name, and his able-bodied crew, who happened to hail from the USMMA. As with the Moosehead Awards, the recipients are not published in the media (even though everyone ends up knowing anyway!

Photos are available at Click on Sailing, then Sonar Awards 2008. Logo
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