Advice on starting a Sunfish Fleet within our club (Arizona Yacht Club)

Thread starter #1
I enjoy racing a Catalina 22 in our local club C-22 one-design fleet. Now that I also have a Sunfish (1979 model year), I’m reaching out to other local Sunfish owners to gauge interest in starting a Sunfish Fleet within AYC. To establish our own fleet, we need a total of 5-boats to race ... mine plus 4-more.

What thoughts / advice / experience does anyone have regarding starting-up a new Sunfish fleet for club racing? It seems pretty simple; but, I’m anticipating potential issues around how rigorously we adhere to official class rules. On the one hand, ensuring everyone is “class legal” levels the playing field for one-design racing competition. On the other hand, being flexible and less rigorous will probably result in more people joining the fleet ... and in less expense for skippers with respect to equipment, sails, etc. To me, the Sunfish is all about sailing FUN, so I personally favor looser standards at the club level, with emphasis on “friendly” racing competition. I’ll be querying other interested boat owners regarding their preference; but, I’m leaning toward “more boats/members” with less emphasis on being “class legal.” I should note that we already have a large, very active, Laser fleet - I think anyone interested in pure one-design competitive dinghy racing will gravitate toward the Lasers ... and those looking for a more relaxed fun race and a fun fleet will look toward the Sunfish fleet.

Any thoughts, great ideas, or advice to share? And, if you happen to be a Phoenix- area Sunfish owner reading this posting, please let me know so I can follow-up with you. Thanks!

- Bob


Upside down?
Staff member
Rest assured, at the club level nobody gives a d...
And thanks for giving this a try!

As an aside, Laser class rules aren’t enforced in club racing in many East coast fleets.


Well-Known Member
Because there are so many "clonefish", local rules could allow any 14-foot sailboat similar to Sunfish to participate. (They're unlikely to beat Sunfish anyway). ;)

Later, apply Portsmouth ratings, then narrow the rules as the class grows to an acceptable size. :)


Active Member
Easy, inexpensive and attractive would seem to be the words. If things get going great, then discussions can happen if things need to tighten up. Otherwise keep Intensity Sails as your friend. No need to weed out people in the beginning, would be my thought. Arizona doesn't seem to me to be a gathering hub of hard core sailors trucking in from around the world, but rather those out to enjoy friendship and friendly racing....and who's buying dinner! ;-)
Thread starter #5
Thanks for the comments and ideas. I think you guys are correct ... keep it relaxed and open. Surprisingly for the Arizona desert, we do have a very active yacht club - membership of about 250-families, with boats ranging from BICs to Hobie 33s. At our big annual regatta, we fielded 70-boats across 10-classes ... that’s a pretty good turn-out for any regatta. Some of our club members keep boats in San Diego - a 5-hour drive - and participate in races there. So, we do get those members that are really passionate about racing; but, I think they tend to gravitate more toward the high-performance sport boats. Anyway, I’m going to try to get the Sunfish fleet launched ... I just need four (4) more people to agree to sign-up. And, per the feedback, we’ll keep it easy, inexpensive, and FUN. Thanks again!


Upside down?
Staff member
Many Sunfish sailors just want to 'mess around' and aren't interested in racing. To spark the racing bug in them, I suggest you start out very gently by offering one or more clinics.
Discuss basic and 'racing' set ups.
On the water, practice starting, tacking, jibing, mark roundings, etc. Try a few short (10 min) 'fun' races without scoring. And lots of food and age-appropriate beverages before or after...
Thread starter #7
Excellent ideas, Wavedancer. Especially the “age appropriate” beverages. I am the wrong guy to be doing a clinic - I’m very new to the Sunfish! But, we’ll get there! Thanks for the suggestions.