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A Theological Question Regarding Sunfish Rigging

AQBill

Member
Dear Fellow Sunfish Enthusiasts,

Is there any reason for the Sunfish to be rigged with the boom to port? I know that the sail is full on the starboard tack and that on port tack the sail is pressed against the mast. And, of course, I also know that the influence of the mast on sail shape results in slight differences in how one trims the sails. But for the life of me, I cannot come up with a reason that the boom should be to the port side. If the gooseneck were rotated 180 degrees - relegating the boom to the starboard side - it would seem to me to be just as effective as being to port. Perhaps this is done because Alcort did all their brochures with the boom on the port side...

Anyway, what is your take on this great mystery? Inquiring minds want to know...

AQBill
;)
 
I guess if the boom was rigged to starboard, the sail would press against the mast on a starboard tack and against the halyard on a port tack.
 

AQBill

Member
I guess if the boom was rigged to starboard, the sail would press against the mast on a starboard tack and against the halyard on a port tack.
You are correct imported_Andy but you could just as easily rotate the mast 180 degrees and have the halyard on the open side. So that's not what I was looking for which is a rational sailing or rigging reason for the boom to be on the port side. No cigar iA.

AQBill:D
 

danpal

Active Member
Because they placed the bullseye fairlead on the starboard side and the halyard will twisted around the mast when you raise the sail if the boom is rigged on the starboard side.
 

sailcraftri

Well-Known Member
If you have a halyard cleat on the mast then the halyard would not be such an issue. The starboard tack being the better tack as the sail does not ride against the mast may be due to starboard having right of way so the original designers may have taken this into consideration.

Option two is that they didn't think too hard and just put the halyard on the "right" side.
 

beldar boathead

Well-Known Member
Danpal is right. Try rigging it the other way and he will be proven correct. And RI probably has the best analysis of why it is as it is. Al and Cort are long gone so we will likely never get to the bottom of this fascinating question.
 

AQBill

Member
Thank you all. I guess the location of the bullseye fairlead - whether intentionally or inadvertently placed - is the answer. Let's say, for the sake of discussion, that someone did show up at an official Sunfish regatta with the boom on the starboard side. Would this person be told to set it "right," or would he be allowed to sail? Furthermore, let's say that Mr. Wrong was allowed to sail with his backward rig and it turned out to be an advantage - pointing higher off of the starting line - would then everybody jump on the "wrong" bandwagon and start turning their rigs around? Like all theological questions, perhaps, and beldar boathead suggests, there is no correct answer to this mystery. Oh the humanity!!!

AQBill:confused:
 

Sailkb

Member
Because they placed the bullseye fairlead on the starboard side and the halyard will twisted around the mast when you raise the sail if the boom is rigged on the starboard side.
I accidently did this on a very windy day last summer and as the haylard twisted around the boom, the tork was such that it ripped my bullseye of the top deck. By accidently, what happened was I failed to tie the mainsheet to the traveler and the sail swung around as I began a run down wind. I turned into the wind to allow the sail to come around to starbard side, and all the sudden I heard crackling. I was able to makeshift and sail that day, but later had my first try at fiberglass repair.
 

sailcraftri

Well-Known Member
I was thinking about the boom to port/starboard question and also came up with a why did they do that question on the pop rivets that hold the aluminum trim on. It seemed to me that you could "hide" the rivets since they don't go all the way thru by having placed them on the underside instead. Now I know they might rip skin off fingers when you grab the edge so that is the only reason I could determine why the rivets are topside.
 

Clyde

Member
Dear Fellow Sunfish Enthusiasts,

Is there any reason for the Sunfish to be rigged with the boom to port? I know that the sail is full on the starboard tack and that on port tack the sail is pressed against the mast. And, of course, I also know that the influence of the mast on sail shape results in slight differences in how one trims the sails. But for the life of me, I cannot come up with a reason that the boom should be to the port side. If the gooseneck were rotated 180 degrees - relegating the boom to the starboard side - it would seem to me to be just as effective as being to port. Perhaps this is done because Alcort did all their brochures with the boom on the port side...

Anyway, what is your take on this great mystery? Inquiring minds want to know...

AQBill
;)
Just out of curiosity - how is this a theological (i.e. religious) question? Do you perhaps mean theoretical? Not nit picking - just wondering what you really meant, if different than the obvious. Has to be one side or the other. Port was chosen. What difference can it possibly make since all hardware is placed accordingly?
 

AQBill

Member
Dear Clyde,

I did mean theological in the sense that there are many opinions about why and wherefore but few answers as it may remain a mystery as to why the port-side boom placement was selected. The nature of theological questions is similar in that we may never know the answer. It's kind of like a "how many angels can dance on the head of a pin?" question or a Buddhist koan "does a dog have a Buddha-nature?" As one Shinto practitioner supposedly responded to a theological question from a non-Shinto practitioner "I don't think we have theology, we dance."

Namaste,
AQBill
 

Fred P

Member
Thank you all. I guess the location of the bullseye fairlead - whether intentionally or inadvertently placed - is the answer. Let's say, for the sake of discussion, that someone did show up at an official Sunfish regatta with the boom on the starboard side. Would this person be told to set it "right," or would he be allowed to sail? Furthermore, let's say that Mr. Wrong was allowed to sail with his backward rig and it turned out to be an advantage - pointing higher off of the starting line - would then everybody jump on the "wrong" bandwagon and start turning their rigs around? Like all theological questions, perhaps, and beldar boathead suggests, there is no correct answer to this mystery. Oh the humanity!!!

AQBill:confused:
I think you mean theoretical. Theological has to do with religion.

Fred
 

hilulover

New Member
I have spent the past few days researching this, and I have made contact with some Alcort employees from the olden days. It turns out this was not a matter of theology, but one of political orientation. Both Al and Cort were big supporters of workers rights. As a subtle reminder to their employees of their left-leaning political positions and their support of workers, they had the Sunfish sail placed on the left side of the mast. Even though they had sold the company by the time the Hilu outrigger was designed (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hilu) they insisted that the larger hull be the left one - the design firm had made the right one bigger as they thought it would somehow photograph better for brochures (I can't figure out why that makes a difference.) But when Al and Cort were shown the design as a courtesy, they insisted that the left hull be larger, again due to their left-leaning politics.

So the original premise was it was a theological decision, but according to my sources it was political. Who would have thunk?
 

AQBill

Member
Dear hilulover,
Although you may be pulling my leg...which is just fine....your response is clearly the best and most creative to date. Kudos to you for the exceptional effort. If there's any human endeavor fraught with more fantasy and never-ending-debate than theology, indeed, it would be politics! :)
 

baseman

On the Water
This is quite an interesting discussion. I have owned three lateen rigged boats (none of them Sunfish), and they all have the boom on the port side. I was thinking, after reading this, that I might try switching the boom to starboard, but after 45 (or so) years of sailing with the boom to port, I might get confused. I have seen examples of lateen rigged boats dating back to the Roman Empire and all of them have the boom on port. Perhaps the answer is 'because it's always been done that way'.
 

AQBill

Member
Dear baseman, Sailkb (see above post) makes a good point about ripping out the fairlead when he inadvertently installed the boom on the starboard side. I'd be mindful of doing this in higher winds. Now, of course, if you replaced the existing starboard side fairlead with a mirror image one to port...assuming it was structurally sound...there's no reason it shouldn't work just fine.

AQBill
 
I stopped by the Waterbury CT plant several times in the early '60's. I thought Cort was a big mover and shaker in the Connecticut Republican party, so this is a bit of a surprise - I was having a glass of prune juice when I read this and I nearly blew some of it out my nose! Has anyone been able to track down any of Al or Cort's relatives to get more of a scoop on the reason for putting the sail on the port side? I do recall Al always smoked his cigars with them stuck out the left side of his mouth, and he kept his handkerchief and Ronson lighter in his left pocket, so all this talk of him leaning to the left is not a surprise now that I think about it. But as for Cort, I thought he leaned right - matter of fact, I thought he wanted one of the 1964 Sunfish colors to be gold, in support of Barry Goldwater. But perhaps he was a lefty - Hilulover seems to have done his or her research. TUM
 

beldar boathead

Well-Known Member
It is hard to tell if Hilulover is right or pulling our leg, but it could make sense. Were it not for Hilulover's comments, I would assume that Alcort "just picked the left side." I think trying to ascribe a reason to it is overthinking things.

BTW, is the Unknown Master implying with his sail color comment that Al and Cort might actually have been Communists since they offered red as a color?

Now as to why the Hilu's left hull is bigger - that is an interesting question!!

BB
 

powergroove

Member
Wouldnt it make sense that you spend more time on Starboard than port, and typically start on starboard? I havent done any studies, but just thinking back I believe most people prefer to be on starboard iof for no other reason we round to port, we have rights while on starbaord, and we typically start on starboard.
 

AQBill

Member
Dear power groove,

If the racecourse is square, you'll spend equal time on both tacks...all things being equal. On courses having a triangular component (two reaching legs) you'll sail one on starboard and one on port. There is an advantage, in general, being on starboard in "groups" but wind directional changes can throw the best laid plans into the drink, so to speak.

Happy Sailing!
 

beldar boathead

Well-Known Member
AQ Bill, prepare to have your mind blown! This 1960 Sunfish/Sailfish ad shows sails on the starboard side of the mast!!!! http://www.ebay.com/itm/Vintage-Alcort-Sailfish-Sunfish-1960-Boat-Boat-Brochure-/321334028584?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item4ad1002928

However, they show the same boats with the sails on the port side as well, so I have a feeling they just flipped the negatives so the boats were going in the direction the art director for the ads liked best. Perhaps you should buy this brochure and further investigate.
 
I agree with beldar that we're probably way overthinking this, BUT... Could it be that since most of the population is right handed it's easier to raise the sail (pull down on the halyard) with your dominant (right hand for most of us) and then feed the line through the lead/pulley with your left hand. You could do it that way from the port side, but it would be more awkward.
 

AQBill

Member
:confused:The "end times" must be approaching. I've concluded that they had to go one side or the other and someone chose to put the fairlead to starboard and, ergo, the boom to port. How many angels can dance on the head of a pin? My "koan" shall now be a our Sunfish question which can never be solved except by faith. Testify brothers & sisters, testify.:oops:
 

JamesLoxley

New Member
I've a graduate degree in theology and am a neophyte Sunfish sailor. In my humble, yet very well-theologically-educated opinion, sailcraftri has the the answer with the greatest explanatory power, but I think hilulover's neo-Marxist (in literary theory terms; no accusation of socialism) answer suspecting political motivations is persuasive, too. :)
 

Mr Mike

New Member
I've a graduate degree in theology and am a neophyte Sunfish sailor. In my humble, yet very well-theologically-educated opinion, sailcraftri has the the answer with the greatest explanatory power, but I think hilulover's neo-Marxist (in literary theory terms; no accusation of socialism) answer suspecting political motivations is persuasive, too. :)
 

Mr Mike

New Member
I am new to sailing and at 77 have a lot to learn and not so much time to learn it. I am somewhat of an analytical guy and wondered why the boom had to be on the port side. This thread answers that question. there isn't an obvious compelling reason. It is likely true that with the wind on the Starboard side will generate a tad bit more power than on the port side because of the mast interrupting the shape of the sail. I googled this topic for two reasons: (1) Is there a plausible reason why the boom is on the port side. From this thread the answer is no. (2) There is a nearby regatta that is a race around an island. There is one part of the race that is several miles long and pretty straight. Depending on the wind direction on race day it may be a significant advantage to have the boom on the other side. All that is needed is a fairlead or pulley (as on early Sunfish) for the halyard on the port side and flip the gooseneck.

What say?

Mr Mike
 

beldar boathead

Well-Known Member
I am new to sailing and at 77 have a lot to learn and not so much time to learn it. I am somewhat of an analytical guy and wondered why the boom had to be on the port side. This thread answers that question. there isn't an obvious compelling reason. It is likely true that with the wind on the Starboard side will generate a tad bit more power than on the port side because of the mast interrupting the shape of the sail. I googled this topic for two reasons: (1) Is there a plausible reason why the boom is on the port side. From this thread the answer is no. (2) There is a nearby regatta that is a race around an island. There is one part of the race that is several miles long and pretty straight. Depending on the wind direction on race day it may be a significant advantage to have the boom on the other side. All that is needed is a fairlead or pulley (as on early Sunfish) for the halyard on the port side and flip the gooseneck.

What say?

Mr Mike
That’s a very interesting idea! As long as they are not enforcing class rules you’re good to go. I think you could successfully hoist the sail on the starboard side without changing the eye though, and there is no class rule saying which side of the mast the sail needs to go on.
 

Mr Mike

New Member
I think you are correct on not changing the fairlead or pulley (whichever your boat has). The mast can pivot. I am going to try it out,. I am not savy on class rules for the Sunfish as I have never attended one. I have inquired from the organizer so if I have to take off some of the gadgets I have added to my boat off, I have time to do it.

Mr Mike
 

james123

Member
When I sailed Optis I was taught to rig my sprit pole on the starboard side because on a starting line, most of the time boats are lined up on starboard and right off the starting line is when that 0.02 kts is most important. I am betting this holds true for the sunfish and now even non racers do it because everyone else does and there's no reason to do it any other way.
 

Charles Howard

Active Member
Mr. Mike,

I would leave the rig alone as the speed difference would be small. If you were a person multi sunfish world champion Eduardo Cordero you might might notice the difference but the average racer, sailor would not

If you want to notice a speed difference you need a race sail.
 

beldar boathead

Well-Known Member
Charles makes a good point. I think if you have a race sail and plastic daggerboard then why not put the sail on the side it’ll do the most good for that race. But if you don’t, people with race equipment will go faster no matter which side of the mast the sail is on.
 
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