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Downhaul the sail?

cascadesailor

New Member
Friends - I’m recently rediscovering Sunfish sailing. I grew`up sailing a Sunfish on Lake Michigan And I guess I was fearless?`Now I’m older and wiser (more cautious) and I live in the Mountain West].I have a new (to me) Sunfish and am sailing it on the mountain lakes. Mountain lakes are REALLY gusty! A friend suggested I downhaul the sail.

A) I’m not finding info on the web about what that means. Any help is appreciated.
b) any other suggestions besides keeping an eye on the sail?
 

Wavedancer

Upside down?
Staff member
One can lower the sail partway by releasing and then retying the halyard.
But in a real emergency, I would recommend lowering the sail altogether and wrapping the sheet around the boom and rolled up sail.
 

beldar boathead

Well-Known Member
Perhaps he meant install a downhaul (AKA cunningham.) But honestly that won't make a heck of a lot of difference, and is roughly the equivalent of pulling the upper outhaul very tight. But the adjustability of a cunningham makes sense for racers. This diagram shows the cunningham rig on a Sunfish.

1599076834796.png
 

L&VW

Well-Known Member
1) First, make sure you have a genuine Sunfish! :confused:

2) Assuming you're not racing, a MiniFish sail is 10-square feet smaller, and should help to build confidence. (You can use the same Sunfish spars that you have presently).

3) With the standard sail, if you [manually] tie the luff to allow a wider gap between spar and sail you'll relieve some unexpected wind forces. (If I'm reading the experts here correctly). :oops:

4) A block is OK, but I wouldn't use any kind of cleat. :eek:

5) In a weather emergency, a Sunfish will sail surprisingly well (off the wind) using just the mast for wind power. :cool:
 

tag

my2fish
if the wind speed and gusts are a concern, maybe a Jens rig would be the solution?
 

LaLi

Well-Known Member
tie the luff to allow a wider gap between spar and sail you'll relieve some unexpected wind forces.
I'd really like to hear an explanation of how that would have any such effect.
I recently learned that in the Optimist class the fullness of the sail can be adjusted by tying the tie lines tighter or looser at mid-luff than at the ends. That's something different though.

About the original post: I've never actually heard "downhaul" used as a verb. The friend probably meant "tighten the luff" by whatever means available, such as a cunningham system.

_
 

norcalsail

Well-Known Member
Mountain lakes seem to have very erratic wind. I have taken my Sunfish up to Mt. Shasta a couple of times. It's very beautiful for sailing but it's hit and miss for consistent wind. The wind shifts, gusts, dies and seems to go straight up or down I think. For me, I decided I probably won't take it up there again. It's a long way to bounce my boat up Interstate 5. That said, it seems like some mountain lakes do have good wind. There is a lake in the central Sierras called Lake Hamilton that is said to have consistent wind and a lot of people sail there and they have regattas. Sailing at certain times of the day may provide some consistency. I don't have much advice for making sailing easier on such lakes but if nothing else, it will improve your skills.
 

Weston

Active Member
Friends - I’m recently rediscovering Sunfish sailing. I grew`up sailing a Sunfish on Lake Michigan And I guess I was fearless?`Now I’m older and wiser (more cautious) and I live in the Mountain West].I have a new (to me) Sunfish and am sailing it on the mountain lakes. Mountain lakes are REALLY gusty! A friend suggested I downhaul the sail.

A) I’m not finding info on the web about what that means. Any help is appreciated.
b) any other suggestions besides keeping an eye on the sail?
I'm guessing by 'downhauling' the sail, your friends are suggesting that you attach the halyard higher on the gaff (upper boom) so that when you pull the sail all the way up the entire sail sits closer to the deck. That is recommended for higher winds to bring the center of force lower on the mast, thus reducing the amount of force against the mast which will reduce the likelihood of the high winds bending or breaking your mast.
 
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