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23 September 2005, 03:37 pm
Top Sonar Sailors Gather In Cowes
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Sonar World Championship 2005
Cowes, Isle of Wight, Great Britain

The Sonar World Championship gets underway in Cowes, Isle of Wight, Great Britain this weekend with the promise of five days' of intense racing.
Run by the Cowes Corinthian Yacht Club and based in the Cowes Yacht Haven's new Event Centre, the event brings together most of the top able-bodied and disabled Sonar sailors, all competing on equal terms in this World Championship.

Amongst the favourites for the title and the stunning John Mellows Trophy, which will be awarded to the winning crew, are two top local boats, Billy helmed by Paul BOWEN, and Jenny sailed by Andy CASSELL.

The Billy team took the first event of Sonar Summer, Skandia Cowes Week, by storm when they not only won the class but also captured the coveted overall White Group trophy. Billy, a works entry of Sonar Manufacturing, also won the European title by one point from CASSELL's Jenny last weekend, while CASSELL won the Nationals title earlier in the month. CASSELL was the Paralympic gold medallist in Atlanta in 1996 and has remained at the top of the class ever since.

But these two will certainly not have it their own way in this star-studded fleet. The Paralympic gold medallist from Athens, Droh COHEN, is leading a strong Israeli challenge, while Britain's current top Paralympic Sonar sailor, John ROBERTSON, will have his eyes set on taking this crown after his win at the IFDS Disabled Sailing World Championship in Denmark earlier this month.

A strong American contingent will also be out to prove that their dominance of the Sonar fleet can continue outside their own waters. Six USA entries include the current World Champion, Steve SHEPSTONE, and two other highly rated teams led by Pete GALLOWAY and Dave FRANZEL.

Any one of these, and several others among the fleet, have realistic ambitions of finishing on the podium but there are nine races ahead of them which will decide the winner of the 2005 Sonar World Championship.

Audio reports on each race will be published Cowes Online.

The sponsors of the 2005 Sonar World Championship are: Isle of Wight Council, Sonar Manufacturing, Andy Cassell Foundation, Azure Dragon Marine Sculptures, and Cowes Online.
Steve Sleight (As Amended By ISAF). Image, The local team on Billy won the European Championship and are one of the favourites for the World Championship:© Debs Allen
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