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I want to build a Super Sailfish. Advice wanted!

Aiden bradley

New Member
Hello all.
I'm currently gripped by sailfish madness. I want one, I will have one! I'm at the initial prattling about stage at the start of every project but I'm pretty confident that I can pull this one off. I want to build a super sailfish. I'm in the process of considering materials and methods of construction. For all the purists out there I will apologise in advance, I want to use mainly plywood in its construction, and I haven't dis.issed the notion of using stitch and glue construction, which I've had some experience of doing with other boats. Has anyone on here made either a sailfish or a sunfish using these methods? The idea is to make this on a mega low budget, so hardwoods are not happening and also I want to make this a light, car toppable hull. Could I realistically build the hull with 6mm ply sides, rather than the hefty mahogany planks which the originals were made fro. If anyone has any wisdom about sailfish construction is be most grateful. I've found loads of resources about restoring old boats but not a lot regarding recent builds.
 

Seaotter5

Active Member
There are plans for a sailfish on the old Yahoo Sunfish forum. I will see if I can dig them up, but I am certain that someone here must already have them.
Is there any reason that you wouldn’t want to rehab an old fiberglass one? They can usually be had for a reasonable price. You might want to buy one anyway, just for the parts. The rudder assembly can be hard to find, as it is not the same as the Sunfish’s.
 

Alan S. Glos

Well-Known Member
Aiden,

Kent Lewis (AKA "Signal Charlie" on this Forum) is the resident expert on wood sailfish. I am confident he will chime in. I have a pretty good supply of Sailfish for sale if you need some items.

Alan Glos
Cazenovia, NY
 

signal charlie

Well-Known Member
Staff member
Alcort Sailfish Plans Page 2.jpg

Super Sailfish Plans Alcort.png

I think you could use 6mm ply on the sides, but you'd have to craft a sheer stringer and chine stringer so you'd have something to nail the deck and hull to around the outer edge. That would require a lot of cuts on the ends of the frames and only save a couple of pounds.

I also think you could use select #1 pine (3/4 inch thickness) for the sides and seal it with epoxy or enamel paint. Whatever wood you use, you need to seal the inside and put in limber holes so water can drain to a low point drain.

You can't go cheap on plywood, you need marine grade plywood or you need to find similar plywood that has waterproof glue. There are a few out there, but they are hard to find.

One more way to lighten the boat would be to add a few more lightening holes in the frames.

Check out our blog on our Super Sailfish rebuild, you'll get a good idea on how the boat is built. Alcort Super Sailfish TRACKER

zsa zsa frames.jpg
 

Aiden bradley

New Member
This is great, thank you. I live in France so finding an old sailfish is impossible. I'm really drawn to the simplicity of the boat and the fact that it doubles up as a big paddle board is also ideal, I've got two little boys who'd love to throw themselves of a big stable platform! I've thought about stringers, as suggested by signal Charlie (I've checked out your inline resources, they're excellent and thank you for to taking the effort to put them out there). I've also been looking at how the Australian sailfish as been constructed, along with various plywood paddle boards. Availability of materials is going to be key to this build, along with budget. One last question, I've got the plans as shown above for the super sailfish, does anyone have any access to scans or offsets for the original, shorter sailfish design? I'm good with cad so I can translate the old imperial plans to Metric so they don't need to be amazing, although I am also wondering whether the super sailfish would make a better family boat (my boys are not getting any smaller!). Thank you all so far for your input, this will happen, albeit slowly but when complete I'll show you the results.
 

signal charlie

Well-Known Member
Staff member
We have a Standard Sailfish so I may be able to get basic offsets soon. I'm not sure how CAD works but if you drew the Super Sailfish in a CAD program could you shrink the body, profile and half breadths by a factor of .85 to get the Standard Sailfish shape?

Here are the basic specifications, the Standard Sailfish is a very wet boat, it has been called "The Boat You Learn To Swim On." Little kids should love that. Very fun in light winds, challenging above 10 knots. Whichever design you build I would add the rub rail and toe rail like our Super Sailfish has, sold at the time as a Sailfish 14 Deluxe model. The toe rail and rub rail create a place to put your heel and a good place to grab during capsize recovery.

Specs Alcort Sailfish Sunfish.jpeg

 

Aiden bradley

New Member
Yeah, shrinking the cad drawings is easy. I wondered whether that might work. It does look like the std sailfish is the same shape as the super sunfish so what the hell, let's give it a go. I like the idea of the small one because it should be lighter, more convenient to take out with the family considering all the tat we need to take with us whenever we leave the house, also a bit smaller sail so might be better for the boys to learn on. If it proves to be too small I could always make another one!thanks again, you guys are amazing with your sharing of wisdom.
 

signal charlie

Well-Known Member
Staff member
When you get to designing rudder and daggerboard let us know, those boats will not sail well with the original daggerboard (too short) and rudder (not enough surface area).

The new style rudder blade would work well.

New Style Sunfish Rudder Specs.png
and the daggerboard on the left is best at 39 inches.

Sunfish Daggerboard Specs 1980 1993.png

 

Aiden bradley

New Member
Ah, thank you for that. Yes I have read that the original daggerboar and rudder weren't too great. One last question (until the next last question, and the next), would you happen to know if the super and the standard have the same freeboard? I'd have thought they would do otherwise the standard would only be about an inch above the waterline.
 

beldar boathead

Well-Known Member
Aiden, some time ago I had a chance to sail a Super Sailfish, and it is a pretty wild ride when it gets windy. A regular Sailfish has to be insanity. As you can see from the reading, a Super should come in around 100 lbs, which would make it easy to cartop. I'd suggest building the Super instead of the regular.
 

Seaotter5

Active Member
This is great, thank you. I live in France so finding an old sailfish is impossible. I'm really drawn to the simplicity of the boat and the fact that it doubles up as a big paddle board is also ideal, I've got two little boys who'd love to throw themselves of a big stable platform! I've thought about stringers, as suggested by signal Charlie (I've checked out your inline resources, they're excellent and thank you for to taking the effort to put them out there). I've also been looking at how the Australian sailfish as been constructed, along with various plywood paddle boards. Availability of materials is going to be key to this build, along with budget. One last question, I've got the plans as shown above for the super sailfish, does anyone have any access to scans or offsets for the original, shorter sailfish design? I'm good with cad so I can translate the old imperial plans to Metric so they don't need to be amazing, although I am also wondering whether the super sailfish would make a better family boat (my boys are not getting any smaller!). Thank you all so far for your input, this will happen, albeit slowly but when complete I'll show you the results.
I have a Super Sailfish. I think it would be a blast for a couple of kids, especially teens , IF they get along well, don’t mind getting wet, and are willing to practice. The Sailfish is a rather narrow boat, with a Sunfish sail, without any real means of hiking out.
A lot depends on the wind. It’s fantastic at 5 mph. Next time there are light winds on race day, I’m using the sailfish! At 12 mph she can be a bit of a handful, at least in my rather novice hands. At 15 mph I don’t sail her, at least not yet. One would have to be quick and agile, and at 64 I am neither!
Some other attributes:
-no splash guard on mine, so she can be wet.
- I am working on my sailing-laying -back-on-my-duffle technique. If I get it right it could be the most comfortable boat ever. In light winds, at least.
- I find her easier to right than a Sunfish. Obviously one doesn’t need a bailer or a bucket. She is pretty easy to reboard from the bow or stern, not so much from the side.
- she makes a good dive boat. I haven’t tried it yet, but I would like to experiment with looking over the bow with a face mask and snorkel with my wife using a kayak paddle to slowly move the boat along. Most likely I’ll end up doing the paddling if the experiment works.
- the Sailfish handles quite well with a kayak paddle. I don’t do the stand up padding thing
- I have used both the stock dagger board and the longer Sunfish version in light winds. I haven’t noticed much difference yet, but I really haven’t experimented enough to make a definitive decision.
- because it is narrow it is easier to cartop than my Sunfish. And I can put my Minifish and Sailfish on my kayak trailer at the same time, which is really handy when I want to practice race with a friend.
My wife likes the Sunfish more, as it has room for her to lounge. Not much room for that on the Sailfish!
 

signal charlie

Well-Known Member
Staff member
We pulled our Standard Sailfish WINNIE into the Carriage House and will take a few measurements. You'll need maybe four 4x8 sheets of 6mm (1/4 inch) marine grade plywood or a very good substitute that has waterproof glue and void free plies. 3 sheets for the deck and hull and another sheet to cut frames and mast step and daggerboard trunk sides from. There might be a way to get everything cut out of 3 sheets but my brain can only figure that out by making paper patterns of the frames and then laying them out on the scraps that would be left over from the deck and hull panels. Looks like there will be 6 frames, plus the solid 3/4 inch transom.

F5237735-AD26-4C9F-A6D6-74600C61BC43.jpeg

3/4 inch solid wood was used throughout the boat, for things like deck and keel longerons, side planks, daggerboard trunk and mast step buildup, cleats to set screws in, stringers, rudder, daggerboard, etc...Anything that you use will need to be sealed with epoxy or other suitable wood sealer, then primed and painted.

We saved TRACKER by removing open cell styrofoam that someone had placed inside the hull, it was wet and heavy. Sailfish do not need foam, they are a closed pontoon hull. They also added unnecessary frame doublers up front, we took those out also. In this photo you can see how the mast step bridges between frames 1 and 2

zsa zsa foam.jpg
 

signal charlie

Well-Known Member
Staff member
Ahhh, future archaeologists will be confused should they ever find this piece of painter's paper...took lines off of the 1950s Alcort Standard Sailfish yesterday, she's got some lagniappe, LOA measures out at 11' 8".

BC694C7F-FFF9-40DA-ADDB-734B5F6F2735.jpeg

One last question (until the next last question, and the next), would you happen to know if the super and the standard have the same freeboard? I'd have thought they would do otherwise the standard would only be about an inch above the waterline.

The Standard Sailfish plank height including deck and hull thickness is 0-5-3, or 5 3/8 inches. The Super Sailfish is 0-6-4(+), or 6 1/2 inches (+) aka 6 9/16 inches. The interesting part is that the keel height is the same amidships, 9 inches when including the 1/4 inch keel strip and the 1/4 inch thicknesses of the deck and the hull. So that extra V bottom in the Standard helps her float a lot higher.

Audrey Winnie 23 May copy.jpg

ZSA ZSA test float.jpg

I don't know the age/size/experience of your crew but another consideration is that the Standard Sailfish rig is 65 square feet vs the 75sf of the Super.

IMG_0513.jpg

Here are the Half Breadths on deck in Feet-Inches-Eighths, at 5-10-15-20-30-40 inches and so on stem to stern. The half breadths include the 3/4 inch side plank, in other words the lines are to the outside of the plank, and to build the frame inside you need to deduct 0-0-6 from the measurement, then double the measurement to get the width of the frame inside the hull.

The stem face, or Station 0 if you will, measures 3/4 inches across (0-0-6) the thickness of the plank. Station 5 below is 5 inches back from the stem and the half breadth to the outside of the plank is 0 feet, 3 1/8 inches. To get the half width of the frame subtract 3/4 inches, which gives you 2 5/8 inches. Double that and the top width of your frame will be 5 1/4 inches.

01438BEE-2ACE-4EC4-87AE-671AEBC0C255.jpeg
 

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signal charlie

Well-Known Member
Staff member
Hi Aiden

I already see one number that must be wrong, at 90 inches the half breadth is not 0-5-3, it's probably more like 1-2-5. Just draw a fair curve.

6 mm ply for deck and hull. One way to reduce weight on the side planks is to kerf them, or you could route what we call finger grooves or flutes along the back side.

Flutes finger grooves.png

We're building a small boat too, 8 foot punt. 1 sheet of 1/4 inch plywood and some 3/4 inch stock.

8C6564B0-DFB4-42AF-BAB1-409BC96D0602.jpeg
 
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