What's new

I want to build an ultra light Sunfish. I have owned one in the past and will attest that at the current hull weight of 110 pounds they are strong


Well-Known Member
I dunno.

I've sanded "thick" fiberglass roving halfway-through, and had it collapse! Maybe cut lots of holes--instead? (In the deck, I mean...) :p

Cactus Cowboy

Well-Known Member
In my younger days, I wanted to build a lightweight cartoppable boat made of carbon fiber, I even took the time to make drawings of the boat on graph paper. She wound up resembling a fat rocket fish with a rig and slightly elevated bow, gunwales & transom... her hull was slightly rounded too, and I planned to use struts and braces to hold the mast step in place. I figured I would have a one-of-a-kind cartoppable boat, ultralight & fast, and I still believe to this day that she would be a successful design, exhilarating too, but the cost of the requisite carbon fiber alone was prohibitive, and she never came to fruition. Perhaps one day somebody will take up the torch and design such a cartopper, super light, fast, and easy to rig. A cross between fat rocket fish, scow, windsurfer and whatever else, designed specifically for the solo sailor who wanted to get out on the water with minimal hassle. :cool:

A friend of mine allied with the surf shop wanted to build a small fast cat using modified 'yak (or kayak) hulls, something he could assemble on the beach and launch directly into the surf. Of course, such a design would be more complicated, and it would also introduce stresses with which I'm not that familiar, as I've generally been a monohull sailor. But the idea was sound, only problem was we were in the same proverbial boat: young & broke, with more ideas than money, LOL. However, someone may read this post and think: "Ya know, that's not a bad idea!" And build such a craft... I for one would be happy to see someone do it, and if the design were successful, that hand could probably make some money marketing the craft. I don't mean NOW, with this idiotic Coronavirus scare, but later, when things return to normal. Shouldn't be too long, as freight is still strong---got tons & tons of it moving through this burg every day on the southern line. :D

My overall point is this: don't let anyone sway you from your dream... even if the boat only ever exists in your imagination, she can be a wonderful thing. The price of ultralight & strong materials will probably drop over time, carbon fiber was heller expensive back when I first thought of building my dream boat. But to this day, I think of how cool she would be: light enough for one hand to carry, fast enough to draw attention on the water. Remember when those fat little kite-surfing foil numbers appeared on the nautical scene? Those things were ridiculously fast, and every person nearby on the water or the waterfront was intrigued by 'em... I know I was, even though kite-surfing seems like too much work for me, LOL. I'm not lazy by any means, but I like my mechanical advantage, aye? A craft like mine wouldn't be as fast, but she would be far more comfortable, and a hand could drink beer while sailing her, a big plus in my book, LOL. I'm not sure kite-surfers can drink beer while under way, maybe there's somebody good enough to pull it off... :rolleyes:

Dunno if I still have those drawings I made, but if I find time to search for 'em and actually locate 'em, I'll snap some pics and post 'em up... thing is, today I'm on a mission to whack weeds, my least favorite activity in the yard, but it has to be done. Once I've been peppered by shrapnel, with boulders the size of Rhode Island glancing off my shades & face, all I'm gonna wanna do is drink beer, LOL. Boy, I hate that weed-whacking with a passion... to me, Hell is not the Fiery Pit, it's where Satan hands you the equipment and tells you to go whack tall weeds for the duration of your stay. In shorts & flip-flops, of course. Jeez, I already know I'm in for a beating today, but I'm gonna man up and face my fears... one o' these days, I'll wise up and use napalm & Agent Orange to do my yard work, that'll spare me the masochism & aggravation, LOL. Before this day is done, I'll look like Pacino in "SCARFACE"---that much is certain. At least there's plenty o' beer in my fridge, I even have 'handles' of rum & blue agave tequila standing by if I need 'em to ease the pain, BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! Damn... :confused:


P.S. Maybe one o' these days I'll receive a Purple Heart, perhaps even a medal for valor on the battlefield... er, I mean in my yard, LOL. :cool:

Edit: Oh, yeah, the spools of weed-whacking line have to be the kind that tie themselves into a Gordian Knot on a regular basis, like Swiss clockwork... and where the heck is Alexander the Great when ya need him? LOL... meh, I have a razor-sharp Gerber Gator Serrator, guess it'll have to do for cutting the friggin' knot each time. :(
Last edited:


Well-Known Member
RS Aero hulls are only 66 pounds. The boats themselves are in the neighborhood of $10,000 though which is pretty prohibitive for many.
It would be cool to build your own boat!

Gray Young

New Member
A good friend of mine recently told me that he has been thinking of making his own sunfish from carbon fiber. His plan would be to make a clay mold of the upper and lower hull sections of his existing sunfish and use the mold to form the carbon fiber. His plan is to build the hull in workable sections and join them after they are cooked.
He mentioned that the price of carbon fiber has come down considerably from what it was in the past and he believes that the project is actually feasible, albeit with a significant investment in time and effort.
It would not be easy by any stretch but what he wants is to have a sunfish that he can easily lift to car-top when sailing solo.
If it ever comes to fruition, I will be sure to post pictures.

Cactus Cowboy

Well-Known Member
I hope he does build the boat... I can still remember the very first time my best friend handed me a carbon fiber surfboard, I was shocked to feel how light yet strong it was. I mean crazy light, that's what got me thinking about building a small boat entirely outta carbon fiber. Spars & all, ya know? Sail too, for that matter, though I would've settled for less at the time, including aluminum spars, LOL. All a function of the wallet, which was pretty slim at the time... good to hear that carbon fiber has dropped in price, I figured it would over time but lost track of the costs after bailing from Kalifornia. :confused:


Well-Known Member
Just came from a YouTube video of Comanche--"Superboat". :)

Huge expanses of carbon fiber, setting transatlantic record for monohulls, while keeping watch for icebergs. :eek: 40 knots achieved.

Takeaway line: "You want the best survival gear, so you don't turn into a human raisin".

Cactus Cowboy

Well-Known Member
Just watched the short Comanche video, that's a bad@$$ boat... I reckon she cost a bit more to build than a Laser or Sunfish, LOL. :confused:


Well-Known Member
A friend wrote of buying (another) light racing kayak. :rolleyes: Its weight is 26 pounds. :oops:

I asked, in jest, "Don't they make a light one"? :p

Answer: "Yeah, they make a 22-pounder, but it's $600 more in price". :confused:

Cactus Cowboy

Well-Known Member
Or surfboards... when carbon fiber boards first came out, they cost WAY MORE than most regular boards made of polyester resin & glass. The only regular boards which could compete in price were boards with really good graphics, air-brushed art, whatever. I'm sure carbon fiber has come down in price, same way big screen TVs have come down in price over the years... same principle, different product. Having said all that, some of the classic longboards in my friend's collection are now worth a $H!TLOAD of money... I kid ya not. Old Carl Ekstrom boards, old Takayama boards made by "The Donald" himself---er, Donald Takayama, not Trump---and other longboards shaped by early surfing legends who are now dead. I was shocked to learn that these boards are worth more than my car... and that was ten years ago, guess it's time for an automotive upgrade, LOL. :confused:

Meh, nobody will ever accuse me of trying to attract women by driving a flashy car... not with this 18-year-old Toyota Camry. Hey, I put some fresh brush scratches in the paint the other day at the Stronghold!!! Thankfully most of the 'scratches' disappeared when I took the pressure jet to the car, knocking off all the dust in the bargain. A few scratches still remain, perhaps they'll give me some 'street cred' for having a violent and vindictive ex-girlfriend, LOL. And who needs a fancy car anyway? [Cue the 'Sour Grapes' fable by Aesop, LOL] All flash, that brand-new Lamborghini or Ferrari, probably driven by some trust fund baby... spoon-fed maggot from the get-go, LOL. I'd take a VW Bus with a Baja rack any day of the week... or NOT. Always wanted one of them thar Lambos that goes over 200 m.p.h.---that or a Jaguar XJ220, also a sweet ride. But I wound up with an 18-year-old Toyota Camry, who would've THUNK it? :(

Any woman who loves me will have to love me for my SWEET DISPOSITION, BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! And damned sure NOT my wallet... which is looking pretty slim, about as slim as a chicken's chances at a hobo picnic, LOL. Slim as a methed-up anorexic on the proverbial deathbed... slim as the Democratic Party's chances of unseating Trump in 2020... you start to get the picture, AYE? Aaaaah, this cold beer tastes pretty good, I was gonna mix up some margaritas but I have an interview tomorrow morning, so I'm sticking with beer... don't want anything to ruin my own chances of scoring this job, now that I'm first in line to be interviewed. It's a good job too, and no inmate crew pestering me to bring 'em drugs, LOL... as if that would ever happen. But that's how it is with an inmate crew, and once ya tell 'em no, they're uncooperative at best, surly & belligerent at worst... pfffft. I'm not the one wearing the orange clown suit, so f#% it. :rolleyes:

I should've pummeled that idiot who kept lighting up near multiple fuel sources, but then I'd be wearing an orange clown suit as well, no future in that... cost me a good job, that douche, along with the 'Kindergarten Politics' of the young fool in charge of the barn, dude clearly wanted his friend in my place now that all the hard work has been done (by me). I told the big boss on my way out, "THE PLACE WILL LOOK LIKE $H!T WITHIN A MONTH"---and it will, because those youngsters are lazy and slothful when it comes to keeping a shop clean. WTF, the mayor shook my hand while I was there, since he noticed the difference, I reckon he won't be so pleased next time he sees it, LOL. But that's no longer my problem... if I get this state job, I'll be taking a big ol' pay raise with all the same benefits, or even BETTER benefits, so to heck with the old job. Bunch of friggin' ingrates, as well as inmates... it'll be nice, NOT having to deal with an inmate crew again. :D

Oh, well, guess it's time for another cold one, I watched a good Western earlier and I'm about to watch another, I'm catching up to old Westerns since I bought a Roku Streaming Stick, this stick works better than any digital antenna would here in the wilds of southeastern Arizona, and I already have high-speed Internet in my home, courtesy of Cox outta Tucson. I like this streaming number, it offers a lot of options, and of course I'm behind the times when it comes to all this digital equipment. If I ever land on the Moon, it'll be after I'm shot out of a cannon while wearing a helmet & wingsuit, 10-4? Maybe some breathing apparatus, like Jacques Cousteau back in the day, LOL... I'm dating myself by even mentioning his name, but he & his family were once on the cutting edge of scuba diving. Inner Space travel, if you will... WTF, ol Jacques was an Inner Space pioneer, might as well give him some credit where credit is due, AYE? :cool:



Well-Known Member
As this thread has gone off into different directions and is now on the subject of carbon, I might as well add my random thoughts as well. But I will stick to the original language that 1Jeff referred to with the lighter hull and the, "purely for exhilarating speed".

So, if you want exhilarating speed, here's one way. You want as light a hull as possible, as much power as possible and a dedicated planning surface. Add in wonderfully light and super strong carbon and what have you got? Formula Windsurfing Gear.

Here's a comparison. First of all, the hull. A Sunfish hull weighs right around 130 lbs, right? My 95 centimeter wide, 170 liters-of-volume Formula board weighs... 18 lbs. No, that's not a misprint. It's all carbon and foam.

Ah, but you say, "Well... yes... but a Sunfish carries a lot of sail area, so you need a bigger hull." Ummm, well, no. You don't. Check it out. My primary, light wind windsurfing sail is 9.5 square meters. And I've actually got an 11.0 square meter, full on Formula race sail. But let's just go with my 9.5 meter sail. That's 102 square feet of sail. And a Sunfish sail is "only" 75 square feet.

So, how can I possibly sail along with that big a sail and rig and not sink when I'm in super light winds? The answer is volume. Or actually, displacement. I weigh 180 lbs in my wetsuit. When I am standing on my board in, say, 1-2 mph of wind (that is, non planing wind) and I'm just barely moving, the water surface is covering my board except for the very top surface. Some of it washing over the top surface. The 170 liters of volume, by design, is just keeping me floating.

Then when there is more wind (4-8 mph) the planning surface starts to lift the deck of my board and the "gunnels" up and out of the water. And when the wind reaches 9 mph, I have enough power to plane. But how can I possibly "sheet in" and stay sheeted in with a powered up sail that's 27 square feet larger than a Sunfish sail? With my body weight. I'm hooked into lines on the boom with my harness and I let my 180 lbs sheet in for me.

So, the combination of a large amount of power, low total weight, low drag and a dedicated planning surface (the rearward 2-3 feet of the board) is able to lift me up and on to the plane and away I go.

This combo of power, low weight, low drag and a planing surface allows me to sail at 2 times the speed of the wind in light winds. Less than 2 times the speed of the wind as the wind strength increases. So, in 9 - 10 mph winds, I'm planning along at 18-20 mph over the ground. It's truly a mind bending experience. It just doesn't make sense that you could do it as you are right there doing it in lovely, light, 9-10 mph winds. But it works.

So, if 1Jeff wants a lighter hull and a, "purely for exhilarating speed", experience I recommend used, Formula Racing windsurfing gear. And you don't even need a trailer!

- Andy

P.S. Here's a guy on Formula Windsurfing gear. I'd guess his sail is at least 10 square meters in size. Sheeting in (and creating righting moment) with your body weight. That's the key to being able to deliver all that power to your "hull" and daggerboard (your high aspect ratio windsurfing fin).

Last edited:

Cactus Cowboy

Well-Known Member
Good info from Andyatos, as usual... :cool:

Gotta be in good shape to windsurf, something to consider before buying the rig. :rolleyes:

With a sailboat, one has mechanical advantage, which keeps one's limbs from tiring too quickly... :confused:

Might even go so far as to say that windsurfing is a young man's sport, LOL... ;)

But women do it too, and darned well... I recently saw a video on the Surf Channel of some gal rippin' on waves with a windsurfer!!! :eek:

She was fit too, and looked good, LOL... that's the male chauvinist pig in me talkin', of course, BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! :D



Well-Known Member
Gotta be in good shape to windsurf, something to consider before buying the rig. :rolleyes:
That certainly is a valid point Coastal. And, if you'll indulge me, I'll add is caveat/Q&A, to this wind powered water activity that we all love. :D

1) Is it useful to be in good shape while learning how to windsurf?

Yes. Absolutely. Positively. No question. Because learning to windsurf... if you have no sailing experience... is like learning how to juggle 3 tennis balls while simultaneously learning how to ride a unicycle.

And while you are learning how to windsurf, you are using every, single muscle in your body. So, it's brutal in the beginning for people who have no fitness base and who don't know how to sail already. We call it the, "Entry Fee". The price of admission that you have to pay in order to get to the good stuff. However...

2) Do you have to be in good shape in order to windsurf if you are already experienced and know how to plane, tack, etc? No, you don't. If fact, one of astonishing things I discovered about windsurfing is just how little energy you are expending as you are flying along at 20-25+ mph.

And here's the most bizarre one of all. Guess which requires more energy from your thighs. Hiking out with your hiking strap in a Sunfish while fully powered up, going up wind close hauled, or planning on your windsurfer fully powered up, sheeted in to the centerline, while going upwind closed hauled? The answer is hiking out in a Sunfish. It takes waaaaaaaay more energy. Who knew, right? :cool:

So, why is this? Well, when you are fully hiking in a Sunfish you are having to fully support everything... or nearly everything... above your knees. And engage a large number of muscles. Yet, when you are hanging in your windsurfing harness, a large percentage of your body weight is being supported by the sail. Some of that weight is being driven down through the mast and into the board.

But a lot of it is being supported by the sail because we pull the rig a bit past vertical and over the top of us. Think about the Honda Marine, Australian 18s New Zealand team who just won their 3rd JJ Giltinan Championship. They sail with the rig pulled over the top of them just a bit.

Because of this, when you are planning along, you can actually lift your forward foot clear off the board and at the same time do a calf raise with your rear foot so that you are only touching the board with the ball of your rear foot. I know... it sounds crazy.

This all adds up to people in their 80s being able to windsurf. Like are own Mr. Hart... an 82 year old fellow I used to windsurf with in my area. We even named an area of Bodega Bay that we windsurf from, "Hart's Beach" in his honor while he was still windsurfing.

Anyway, thanks one and all for indulging me. I can't help it. I just love thinking about and pondering about and talking about all varieties of wind powered salt and fresh water activities. There's just something about Sailing! :rolleyes:


- Andy

Cactus Cowboy

Well-Known Member
Ah, I'm behind the times as usual... back when I experimented with windsurfing, there were no harnesses, just the split 'boom' or whatever it's called, and a hand would indeed get tired after awhile. Having tried it, I thought to myself: "Too difficult to pound beers while under way, I'll stick to my Laser!!!" ;)

As a sailor & climber, I should've figured that somebody would toss a harness into the mix, thereby relieving the windsurfer of some muscular strain... :confused:

Meh, learn something new every day, it's not a bad way to live... and I greatly appreciate the modern info update, aye? And as far as mechanical advantage goes, even though I live in cowboy country I still intend to get my horsepower by twisting a throttle, LOL. :rolleyes:



Well-Known Member
I watched a guy teaching himself how to windsurf--about 1972. (When I'd bought a Hobie 16 for Hobie-Beach, Miami's Key Biscayne). As I watched, he must have fallen-off two dozen times. :eek:

He was smart to have been learning in two feet of water! :cool:

Cactus Cowboy

Well-Known Member
Haha, that wasn't long before I tried it, those old school windsurfing rigs were clearly a different animal... :eek:

Speaking of animals, here's Crackhead mastering the vagaries of the Pawleys Island Hammock in a nice breeze... ;)

IMG_9516.JPG IMG_9515.JPG IMG_9514.JPG

He's a funny cat, he'll jump up there with me to swing back & forth, but due to his black coat he can only take so much of this Arizona sunshine... :rolleyes:

And I have to school him when he sharpens his claws on my $250 quilted 'Beach Stripe' model... worth every penny, those Pawleys Island Hammocks, and they have nautical origins too, first guy to make one was a Carolina sea captain looking for a cooler way to sleep on deck in the hot, humid months. :confused:

Of course, the originals were rope hammocks, not three-season quilted numbers like mine, LOL... I bought this in Show Low to sling between tall pines on my property in the White Mountains, here I have to use a hammock stand but it's still pretty darned comfortable. :D

These bad boys are rated to something like 400 lbs. too, so a date could join me as long as she didn't weigh too much, LOL. :)

Meh, in perfect weather like this, I'll settle for Crackhead... as long as he doesn't spill his icy-slush Margaritas in the hammock, the blasted varmint!!! :mad:

P.S. I'm no friggin' shill, but anyone interested in this sort o' hammock can Google the company... I've had my hammock for three years now, but I don't leave it out in the sun & wind, it wouldn't last anywhere near as long, aye? I have a system where I roll it up every time without it touching the ground, then I unroll it the same way whenever I want to sling it and enjoy some quality time. Otherwise, I store it indoors, no scorpions that way, LOL. Had birds calling in the yard today (half a dozen feeders), breeze sighing in the tall Palo Verde plants, and gorgeous mid-to-upper-70s weather, nice & dry too so it's really comfortable... I drowsed off a time or two this afternoon, but that's what hammocks are for, I reckon. Tonight, yardbird with green salad on the side, maybe a little tater salad too... CHEERS!!! :cool:
Last edited:

Lafayette Mike

Active Member
I remember seeing somewhere that the manufacturing molds for the Phantom (Sunfish clone) were for sale. Cheap. Get the molds and experiment!



Well-Known Member
Craigslist, Maine:



I want to build a hull that weighs 60 pounds purely for exhilarating speed. Obviously not one design.
Has anybody done this?
LOL. I had a super lightweight hull that just didnt hold up in heavy air. Ever time I used it a long crack opened up in the hull section just fwd of the daggerboard trunk. After many detailed repairs I just gave up. U might get one great ride in a lightweight but could ?? only be one before it breaks up. If looking for a thrill consider a good strong hull but with a huge sail plan.