Halyard and Gooseneck position

Thread starter #1
I would like to thank everyone for their help on getting me up to speed on new sailing adventure with this 1980 Sunfish! I’m just about ready to take it out this weekend for the first time. Since I’m a new sailor for this boat can you please let me know what is a good starting position for the halyard and gooseneck. I don’t plan to take it out if the winds are over 15 mph and not interested in racing it. So a basic setting for a safe and easy sail. Thanks again for your very helpful advice.
The goosneck can be moved forward and back depending on windspeed. For light air, it is moved forward, sometimes as close as 12 inches from the tack, so that the sail is canted up. In heavy air it is moved back, to the point where the bottom spar becomes parallel to the deck, up to 24 inches.

Intensity sails has a little handle that makes it easy to adjust. But I generally just keep it in the middle and don't change it.

For daysailing, I put the halyard up to where I can see under the sail. Part of safety is seeing traffic!
If you have a synthetic halyard it may slide on the spar when out on the water, thus putting the rig lower than you want. I put a couple of zipties to bracket where I want the halyard to be, so that it can't slide too far.

Make sure that the halyard is cleated off to the deck, so that the mast can't pop out if you capsize.

After a couple of sails, you want to go out and do a capsize drill to make sure you can right the boat if needed. Generally Sunfish don't capsize that easily though -- I've never had an accidental capsize yet.
I've marked my lower boom in 1" increments and have the quick-release that Gregory mentioned to let me adjust the gooseneck location quickly.

you could probably just pick one setting based on your usual, or expected, wind speeds you'll sail in.
this table below is from the Sunfish Tuning Guide for Racers (.pdf file here)

for the halyard location, that referenced guide sets is near the 10th sail clip (up from the tack), but for recreational sailing, you could shift it closer to the tack (to raise the sail up a bit off the deck) - easier to duck under the sail that way. if you tie it on with a clove hitch, it can be slid a bit to adjust after you test how the sail looks after you've raised it up.
Thread starter #6
Hi Thanks for you help! My Grandchildren show up today, looking forward to have them go out with me. I rig it for the most conservative setup you suggested. Thanks again.

signal charlie

Well-Known Member
Staff member
Looks good to us, we set the gooseneck at 22 inches and the halyard down from the top about 60, so if you slid your halyard up snug against the ring just above it that would be our recreational rig.

Oops, there's a sneak peek at SUGAR, she might be finished...


Kent and Skipper
Thread starter #8
Thanks, I will change the halyard position to 60” from the top. It’s now at 70” The gooseneck is at 20”, I will move it back to 22”. Thanks for the recommendation, should be ok for a beginner!
Thanks, I will change the halyard position to 60” from the top. It’s now at 70” The gooseneck is at 20”, I will move it back to 22”. Thanks for the recommendation, should be ok for a beginner!
the gooseneck chart that Tag posted is pretty accurate. I only go back to 22" in winds above 20 mph. I feel like it doesn't point upwind as well in medium winds that far back and I have to sit too far back to relieve the pressure on the tiller. The only way to know the perfect setting for you is to mark the boom every 2 inches and buy a seat quick release from a bicycle shop for the gooseneck.

beldar boathead

Well-Known Member
And that chart was developed in the days of the racing sail but wooden daggerboards. The new plastic boards let you set the gooseneck further forward in light to medium breezes. Racers go for 14 or 15 inches in up to 10 knots or so. For cruising a bit back from there works just fine.