History of Sonata
Sonata Yachts – The History
Jim Voysey was the designer of the early Sonata’s. He resided in
Sydney. Jim exhibited two Sonata’s at the 1977 Sydney Sailboat Show
and both were sold within a week. Sixteen Sonata 6’s were built
& sold in that first year, double their expectations.
After Ken Wilson saw an advertisement for the Sonata 6 in a Modern Boating
magazine, he drove to Sydney and negotiated a Melbourne dealership agreement.
A month later, Jim and Ken exhibited a demonstration boat at the Melbourne
Boat Show. In those days the boat shows filled the Melbourne Exhibition
Building with nothing but yachts. Both yachts were sold, the first to
Jim Bainan from Blairgowrie and the second to Fred Lapin from Poowong.
A prototype Sonata 6 was sailed at Marley Point in 1977 and retired after
an inglorious capsize. Ken sailed a Sonata 6 called ‘Eight Eights”
(64) in the following year. In 1979, Jim Voysey recovered his Southern
Cross moulds, after having sold them but not paid for. He redesigned the
deck and interior and released the Sonata 7. Early Sonata 7’s sold
in Victoria were No. 3 to Harry Kelberg and yachts Oobladee and Oobladah.
The Sonata 7’s were an immediate hit. Over the next 12 months, Ken
Wilson sold 18 Sonata 6’s and 24 Sonata 7’s. After all, these
were the heady days of the Trailer Sailor boom. By 1979, there were enough
Sonata 6’s to run the Victorian titles, which were held at St.Kilda.
Also in 1979, the Sonata 7’s competed in the Australian JOG’s
on Sydney Harbour. Jim Voysey in Mulberry came first, with another Sonata
7 in fourth
place. It is interesting to note that the contingents of Seaway 25’s
from Victoria were thrashed. They finished 13th, 14th & 16th.
In 1981, Sonata Yachts went into liquidation. Six months later, Jim Voysey
re-appeared as Shoreline Yachts with the Sonata moulds being made by Investigator
Yachts (Newcastle). This lasted a year before they closed voluntarily.
Bob Barnard, from Investigator Yachts, acquired the moulds and built them
until 1989 when he also went out of business. Ken Wilson went on to sell
the Noelex 25’s at which time he mentioned to Jim that the Sonata
8 needed more room inside and better balance by moving the keel forward.
the Sonata 26 was born. The moulds of the Sonata 6 no longer exist.
It would appear that the history of Sonata builders is similar to that
of most other yachts. Too few buyers to allow a fair amortisation of the
high production costs. It is not likely that Sonata 7’s will be
made again in any real quantities. However there is some stock of spares.
The first yachts in each class sold in Victoria were:
• Sonata 6 No. 23 - Jim Bainam
• Sonata 7 No. 3 - Harry Kelberg (now Songbird)
• Sonata 8 No. 1 - Phillip Marran
• Sonata 6.7 No. 3 - Ron Pounder
In all, there were approximately 585 Sonata’s built
Sonata Association – The History
The Association was formed on the 20th July, 1978. The original committee
• President – Alec Smith “Stanza”
• Secretary – Steve Cookson “Harmony”
• Treasurer – Richard Lamprel “Iron Duke”
• Other Committee members were; Ken Wilson, Les Large, Ann White,
Geoff Roberts and Bill White
One of their first tasks was to consider an amalgamation with the Southern
Cross Association. The new combined association was to be called “The
Southern Cross – Sonata yacht Association”. Also at this meeting
was Chris Hall from Sunmaid. Chris had bought the moulds for the Queensland
version of the Southern Cross 23 called Northwind 7, which he was going
to sell as the Sunmaid 7. Therefore, a new proposal was put up to the
meeting, to call the new Association “The Southern Cross –
Sonata – Northwind & Sunmaid 7 Association”. After a heated
discussion this did not eventuate, therefore the Sonata Association remained
as a separate entity.
Later the Southern Cross Association faded away and Chris Hall’s
business failed. Since then some 26 years later, the Sonata Yacht Association
has gone from strength to strength to be one of the biggest Trailer Sailor
associations within Australia.