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Halyard height

Randy Ricchi

New Member
New sailor here, haven't been out yet - still doing some maintenance on the "new" 1973 SF and looking for a trailer. Meanwhile, I've been reading up on rigging and sailing.
In the rigging guide it says to tie the halyard between the 9th and 10th sail clips on the upper boom, counting from the bottom. This puts the halyard knot about even with the sunfish picture on the sail. When I bought the boat the halyard was fastened further down the boom than that, and I notice in a lot of pictures of sunfishes the halyard also seems to be attached further down the upper boom, causing the sail to ride higher on the mast. This seems favorable since you'd have more head room under the lower boom.
What's the correct attachment point of the halyard to the upper boom?

Also, I'm wondering about the placement along the lower boom of the gooseneck. On my rig, the gooseneck is loose, and I'm not sure where it should be attached. Some Sunfishes seem to have their lower booms almost parallel to the deck, while others have the lower boom angling upward from fore to aft. I assume there are advantages/disadvantages to both, and think this is related to the positioning of the gooseneck. Can someone explain to me the correct positon of the gooseneck, and if there is more than one correct position, the rationale for choosing different positions?
Thanks for any help you can provide.

We're having a cold summer here in Michigan's U.P., so I haven't really missed any decent sailing weather yet. Predicted to be in the fifties throughout the coming week! Grrrr! :mad:


Put it at whatever height works for you. Lower positions lower the center of effort. High gives more headroom. Once you find a spot you like to tie off, marking it with some electrical or rigging tape is a good idea.

The excess halyard can be used to vang down the gooseneck.

Regarding the gooseneck, this is used to adjust the balance of the boat. You need a quick release clamp to slide it for and aft on the boom to reduce weather helm. People mark the boom in 1" graduations to make settings repeatable for given wind conditions. Experiment and keep notes.


New Member
Down lower is probably less strain on the mast and more stability of the boat in stronger winds? I live on an island in the San Juans, Wa and we tend to have high gusty winds.....and COLD water. I tried my new boat yesterday, and it was very good in high win:rolleyes::cool:ds with the 9th and 10th clip. I grew up on Higgins Lake Michigan, and my Sunfish there was much more forgiving....I think. I miss Michigan. We had 90 degree weather a few days ago, but no humidity.


New Member
Spent a couple years myself near Higgins Lake in the 80's.

With regards to how forgiving a Sunfish is, weight makes a huge difference. I've sailed waterlogged near 300 lbs and there is no comparison to the dried out boat I have now.

Old classic style center boards track better then the newer Barrington style although the Classic slips more. Might be handy to keep a Classic Board around just for lazy day sailing. Not sure how the Classic Rudder compares, perhaps someone can comment.

Get the Gooseneck adjusted correctly. Mine is somewhere in the 20" area resulting in a neutral weather helm. I'm going to get a Jam Cleat and see if I can set up for hands off sailing. Not recommended because if you fall off the boat will keep sailing without you.


New Member
I tried the new boat again tonight in 18 knots of wind...perfect halyard height I think.
Stick to the racing guide. I still need to adjust the gooseneck...but your advice of using the halyard to keep it in place worked..Thanks....Tiggatha in Washington

beldar boathead

Well-Known Member
"...need a quick release clamp to slide it for and aft on the boom to reduce weather helm. "

You really only need this if you are going to race. For recreational sailing, you can set it 19 or so inches from the front and forget it.


As a follow up, I was watching the attached video the other day of world champ David Loring. I noticed he had the lower boom close to the deck at the mast point but it rose going aft. I'm guessing this helps reduced stress on the mast, lowers the center of gravity and at the same time, gives a fighting chance to duck under the boom, especially for us older sailors. I could not make out where the halyard was tied off to the upper boom.


Member Emeritus
Lowering the sail's CE reduces the hiking effort needed to counter the wind's leverage against the sail.

Moving the sail fore or aft adjusts the CE's balance with the below-the-waterline Center of Lateral Resistance (CLR) for the current wind strength. In combination with other sail trim and the sailor's position, this balances the boat, minimizing rudder drag for maximum speed.

Here's an annotated race rig...


Fred P

If you're just sailing for fun, set the halyard in a position for comfort. I'm comfortable when I don't capsize so I keep the boom low on the deck to reduce heeling in strong winds.
Gooseneck can be in an average position unless you're racing and then it should be adjustable for variable conditions.

Just go out and have fun. Don't agonize over optimiziation!



New Member
People that race a sunfish set their hailyard around 106 inches from where the black cap meets the upper spar. This keeps the sail low to the deck however, which is good for racing, for reasons stated above, but if you are just sailing around, it might be better if you moved the halyard down a clip or so. As has been said here, find a starting point and see what works for you. The higher you have the boom (lower the halyard) the more leverage the sail will have on healing the boat over, but you will have more head room.

Another thing most the racing people have are adjustable goosenecks, again that has been said above. Most people will mark out somewhere between 15 and 22 on the boom (from where the black cap meets the boom). This number seems to be more of a repherance point for if you ask someone or someone asks you however. The idea is you move the center of effort from the sail over the centerboard. If you have a lot of weather helm, you move the gooseneck back, and if you don't you slide if forward. If you don't have an adjustable one, somwhere around 17 inches will probubally do pretty well.

I hope this helped a little
Steve Powers
Rochester Canoe Club