Sunfish Overview


The Sunfish originally began as a Sailfish and was produced by Alcort Inc. The Sailfish, introduced in the early 50�s and still is considered a miracle of simplicity and function. You could purchase the Sailfish in a wooden kit form or completely assembled by the manufacturer. A decade later the beam was widened, a small cockpit was added including other subtle refinements and, as a result, the Sunfish became the predominate model. Over the years the company changed hands a number of times and is now owned by Vanguard Sailboats in Portsmouth, RI.Roughly 50 years and 500,000 boats later the Sunfish is still a wonderful design while providing great joy for all ages and skills alike. You will find the Sunfish in resorts around the world and in your local areas.

sailing_sunfish_2The Sunfish hull is light enough to throw on top of your car with ease, and they will provide years of virtually maintenance free enjoyment. The Sunfish combines performance, stability and durability in a package that appeals to beginners and experts alike

Length Overall 13’9
Beam 4’1
Sail Area 75sq. ft.
Hull Weight 130lbs.

Racing Tune-Up Information
A number of items can be done to your Sunfish to enhance the performance of your boat if you would like to compete:

The first thing would be to join the United States/International Sunfish Class Association:

P.O. Box 300128,Waterford, Michigan 48330-0128 USA

Tel/Fax (248) 673-2750

For a small fee they will give your official racing registration numbers and the Class newsletter �The Windward Leg�, as well as, other valuable information.

Racing Sail – The introduction of the North racing sail in 1988 provided improved performance and standardized the racing fleet. A large window, 4.5-by-64-inches was also placed at the lower section of the sail to provide visibility starboard on a port tack. A small number of sail clips should be replaced by 1/8-inch line to facilitate optimum sail shape. Lines should be placed at the head of the sail and at the three grommets on the boom, including the clew. The clips immediately above and below the halyard attachment to the gaff (sprit) should also be replaced with line. Finally make two loops out of duct tape or other flexible material through which the main sheet is fed and attach them to the boom. This will keep the line from getting hung up on your life jacket during tacks and jibs.

Wind Indicators – The three most popular types of wind indicator are telltales attached directly to the sail, streamers coming off of wire attached to the gaff spar and the masthead fly. Every sailor has there own preference. I happen to prefer attaching three sets of telltales back-to-back on the sail on both sides approximately 4-inches back equally space starting at the top of the third (middle) panel approximately 30 inches from the gaff. I also place a wind direction indicator at eye level from the apex of the spars

Halyard Position

Wind Strength Halyard Position Gooseneck Height* Vang Tension
Light Air 10th Clip 3� Above Deck Light
Medium Air 1-2� Down -5 Above Deck Medium
Heavy Air 2-3� Down 5-8� Above Deck Hard
Jen’s Rig 0-12� Down 5-8� Above Deck Hard

* Gooseneck height above deck, before vang tension is applied

Gooseneck – Today the gooseneck is recognized as one of the most important variables for optimizing the upwind speed and pointing in all wind conditions. The gooseneck should be moved fore and aft as the wind changes velocity in order to neutralize the helm and place the center effort of the sail over the daggerboard. With a permanent black marking pen , mark a range from 17 to 23 inches at one-inch intervals along the boom, measuring from the apex of the spas. These lines represent your seven-inch within you will set your gooseneck. In general the lighter the wind and the flatter the water the farther forward the gooseneck position should be. Recommend strongly that you invest in an adjustable gooseneck in order to facilitate a rapid change in adjustment as the conditions dictate. Ultimately under all wind conditions you ant a balances or neutral helm.


Wind Strength Gooseneck
(knots) Setting (inches)
Under 05 17 – 18
05 – 08 18 – 19
08 – 12 19 – 20
12 – 15 20 – 21
15 – 20 21 – 22
20 – 25 22 – 23
25 & over Jens Rig 20 – 21


Boom Vang – The larger, fuller racing sail requires more vang tension than its processors. The vang is rigged with the tail of the halyard, and passes over the gooseneck and around the mast, then back down and aft of the cleat.

Outhaul Systems – The larger, more powerful North racing sail has placed a premium on effective de-powering of the rig. As a result of a rule change in 1988, a new outhaul and Cunningham systems allow the skipper to quickly change the sail shape while staying focused on the race. Install two cleats on the port side of the boom far enough forward so that the sheet line will not get caught in the mainsheet block, yet still be within reach. The outhaul tension primarily affects the fullness of the sail while the Cunningham alters the draft of the sail fore and aft.

Daggerboard – In 1993 a new racing daggerboard was approved. The new board has 22% more area than the old boards, its major advantage, and a better hydrodynamic shape. And it�s made of structural foam plastic with a tough urethane skin. It cost about $175.00. Now, new Sunfish come with the plastic board as standard equipment.

Hiking Strap – If your boat does not already have a hiking strap, considering installing one fore and aft just off of the cockpit floor for more effective hiking in medium and heavy air.

Beach Transportation Dolly


An important factor in maintaining your Sunfish in Bristol condition is to protect the bottom surface from scratches, dings and dents. The ideal method to transport your boat from the beach to the water is with a dolly. Seitech Marine Products, Inc. builds a quality product at a reasonable price and is reactively easy to assemble:

SEITECH Marine Products Inc
52 Maritime Drive, PO Box 514
Portsmouth, RI 02871-0514 USA
Tel: 401-683-6898
Fax: 401-683-6897


Boat Care
Although difficult at times try not to let the booms scrape along the topside of the hull. You can wax the deck but recommended that you do not wax the area where you sit/hike. Never wax the bottom. If you purchase a new boat I would recommend a custom fitted cover to protect the boat and sails when not in use. You can purchase one for about $200 from an authorized Sunfish dealer. (see links included in this web page). It provides protection from the ultra violets and pollutants in the air. Over the long haul your boat will remain in good condition with proper care and preventative maintenance.

Sail Care

When sailing make sure that the sail is pulled neatly and snugly along the mast and boom. This will put �shape� into the sail, giving it the proper aerodynamic form. Over tightening the foot or luff will put unnecessary stress on your sail. Not enough tension will make the sail baggy and wrinkled.

If you are sailing in salt water, be sure to rinse out your sail with fresh water after ever use if possible. Dacron does not absorb water or salt, but the dried salt will collect on your sail and make it stiff. The salt will also attract moisture in humid weather and cause mildew. Never wash your sail in a washing machine.

When stowing your sail wait until completely dry then roll neatly up to the spars not around them. Then tie them neatly with a bit of line

Safety Tips
A safety retention line should be always attached to the daggerboard in case of a capsize. On all new boats a bungee cord with locking clips is provided for this purpose.

If� you decide to compete, a racing sale is highly recommended not only for the added performance but being able to see through the large window for port tack visibility on the starboard side of your boat.

As mentioned, add hangers for the sheet line along the bottom side of the boom to prevent hang-ups when tacking/jibing

Learn the racing rules of Sailing and understand which boat has the right-of-way.

Dress appropriately to the weather conditions

Always wear a life jacket


Useful Links
Vanguard Sailboats –

Seitech Marine Products –

Dingy Shop –

Sailaction Inc –

�������� Weather Information –

Tide/current information –

Every Sunfish sailor should have a copy of The Sunfish Bible by Will White. This book cost about $25.00 and contains just about everything important that has been written to date about this fabulous boat.