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Improve old boat or upgrade?

Sams

New Member
Hello Folks,

Last summer I returned to racing a Sunfish after more than 45 years! Did way better than I expected, so looking forward to next summer. I'm sailing a very old boat (1968) 100% original including sail (with lots of tape patches). The hull has always been stored (winters) inside and is in remarkably good condition and weighs in at 135lbs. Questions are:

1) Are there any significant differences in the actual hulls, old to current (from a performance standpoint - understand the cosmetics)?

2) Would you upgrade - sail (racing sail), current fiberglass dagger board, pulley main sheet block, extended tiller (about $1k total), or would you upgrade to a more current boat (about $2,500 used)?

3) Same as first question, if all the upgrades are made, would I still be handicapped with the old hull?

4) Racing sail - listed as 75 sq ft, but see other (non official) at 80 sq ft. I would like to keep the boat class legal even though that's no required on our lake racing club. What would you purchase for a racing sail?

Looking forward to helpful answers and thank you all very much.
 

L&VW

Well-Known Member
Hello Folks,

Last summer I returned to racing a Sunfish after more than 45 years! Did way better than I expected, so looking forward to next summer. I'm sailing a very old boat (1968) 100% original including sail (with lots of tape patches). The hull has always been stored (winters) inside and is in remarkably good condition and weighs in at 135lbs. Questions are:

1) Are there any significant differences in the actual hulls, old to current (from a performance standpoint - understand the cosmetics)?

2) Would you upgrade - sail (racing sail), current fiberglass dagger board, pulley main sheet block, extended tiller (about $1k total), or would you upgrade to a more current boat (about $2,500 used)?

3) Same as first question, if all the upgrades are made, would I still be handicapped with the old hull?

4) Racing sail - listed as 75 sq ft, but see other (non official) at 80 sq ft. I would like to keep the boat class legal even though that's no required on our lake racing club. What would you purchase for a racing sail?

Looking forward to helpful answers and thank you all very much.
You could move from an old (known history) Sunfish to a newer (unknown history) Sunfish and gain nothing or sometimes, the move would be backwards! :rolleyes: Fiberglass isn't indestructible, and may not display the past "insults" that make it into an undesirable "flexible flyer".

I like my ratchet blocks, :) but the attached cam-cleat isn't for everyone.
 

Wavedancer

Upside down?
Staff member
Easy
Get a racing sail and the composite daggerboard.
A ratchet block is nice as well.
If your rudder blade doesn't pop up on your 1968 boat, you can leave it alone.
The tiller extension should allow you to sit up front. If not, get a longer one.
And yes, those improvements will add up to roughly one grand.
 
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sailcraftri

Well-Known Member
1. The newer boats have a wider cockpit opening. Hull no significant changes.

2. If your club does not require "class legal" race sail you can use an Intensity sail for $120 or find a used class legal race sail. Daggerboard is a big improvement. Ratchet block is best for mainsheet. Longer tiller extension helps but making it a universal joint would help as well.

3. Not really.

4. Race cut sail has curved luff and foot which is where the additional sail area may be calculated from.
 

L&VW

Well-Known Member
1. The newer boats have a wider cockpit opening. Hull no significant changes.

2. If your club does not require "class legal" race sail you can use an Intensity sail for $120 or find a used class legal race sail. Daggerboard is a big improvement. Ratchet block is best for mainsheet. Longer tiller extension helps but making it a universal joint would help as well.

3. Not really.

4. Race cut sail has curved luff and foot which is where the additional sail area may be calculated from.
The bow entry is sharper and shorter in the newer hulls. (Those without the aluminum trim).
 

Webfoot1

Active Member
The way I understand it getting a new Sunfish depends on how serious
you are about racing. If you're racing just for fun a recent used boat
will probably do you. If you really want to get serious and climb to be
number 1 in the eyes of the world, you'll need a Sunfish no older than
2 years as the the pros say the hull gets soft after that. At least somewhere
in your journey into the middle/upper ranks this will probably become a factor.
Sort of like any hobby where going pro takes serious time dedication
and a whole bunch of money. Interesting to see if the switch from foam
blocks to air bag blocks? makes a difference. They must be applying
some handicap for weight differences between the two?
 

mixmkr

Well-Known Member
I learned a awhile back that a "race ready" boat does as much for the mindset as does any perceived performance enhancement. Getting first to the line in a faster boat, knowing your boat is at its peak comparatively, will influence your tactics. However, most of us know, a better tack or two or "smarter" course is what wins the race, over pure boat speed. I don't race Sunfish, so not really qualified to comment about them, but my lightweight 69 fish, with composite blades and new sail seems equally as good as my other Sunfish, several decades newer.
 

Sams

New Member
Thanks everyone, sincerely appreciate the comments. No aspirations for anything other than pure fun / recreational racing on the same lake I raced on as a kid (and have summer cottage). I would like to know, however, that if I'm going to take the time, that my boat is at least "reasonably competitive" with the others so I can feel confident that how ever I do is my doing and not the equipment (boat or sail). From what I saw last year, my 1968 (with a 68' patched sail and original dagger board) wasn't even close. Although I did fine, it was clear that the other boats, particularly the one's with racing sails and fiber glass boards, were WAY faster on any give leg of the race (I had to "out tak (sp?)" them to do well!).

To give an idea of what I was dealing with, on my first races (two every sunday), the sail tore at every clip (about 3-4 inches), I patched that with tape, got second place that day! On my second day out there, the "s" hook at the front of the sail let go, so sail was flapping, took 3rd place that day. On the third day out there, I won the first race, and almost immediately after coming over the finish line, the tiller broke (at the bolt), so couldn't enter the second race (hard enough just sailing it home with the tiller). It was clear in every race, that whenever we were in a "head to head tak (sp?)", almost every other boat was simply faster than I was.

Sounds like I should go ahead with; new sail, center board (dagger board in today's terminology), main sheet pulley, and extended tiller, OK with me!

I did take a look and try to find where to purchase a legitimate race sail and didn't quite figure out who to "trust" that I would be getting a current and class approved sail. Can anyone please suggest the vendor from whom I should order a new sail?

Thanks again for the help so far, much appreciated.
 

Wavedancer

Upside down?
Staff member
Sams:
A legal race sail can be bought from a dealer (yes, there are a few left) or directly from LaserPerformance.
The white race sail is currently priced at $395. In the olden days, some (!) dealers would put on numbers for free, but I don't know if anyone is still willing to do that.
If you want some color, you can buy a 2017 Worlds sail for $375 (numbers included) from Sunfish Direct.
You can also ask Laser Performance if they will sell you a 2019 Worlds sail. Nice colors as well.
 

L&VW

Well-Known Member
Thanks everyone, sincerely appreciate the comments. No aspirations for anything other than pure fun / recreational racing on the same lake I raced on as a kid (and have summer cottage). I would like to know, however, that if I'm going to take the time, that my boat is at least "reasonably competitive" with the others so I can feel confident that how ever I do is my doing and not the equipment (boat or sail). From what I saw last year, my 1968 (with a 68' patched sail and original dagger board) wasn't even close. Although I did fine, it was clear that the other boats, particularly the one's with racing sails and fiber glass boards, were WAY faster on any give leg of the race (I had to "out tak (sp?)" them to do well!).

To give an idea of what I was dealing with, on my first races (two every sunday), the sail tore at every clip (about 3-4 inches), I patched that with tape, got second place that day! On my second day out there, the "s" hook at the front of the sail let go, so sail was flapping, took 3rd place that day. On the third day out there, I won the first race, and almost immediately after coming over the finish line, the tiller broke (at the bolt), so couldn't enter the second race (hard enough just sailing it home with the tiller). It was clear in every race, that whenever we were in a "head to head tak (sp?)", almost every other boat was simply faster than I was.

Sounds like I should go ahead with; new sail, center board (dagger board in today's terminology), main sheet pulley, and extended tiller, OK with me!

I did take a look and try to find where to purchase a legitimate race sail and didn't quite figure out who to "trust" that I would be getting a current and class approved sail. Can anyone please suggest the vendor from whom I should order a new sail?

Thanks again for the help so far, much appreciated.
You've done so well without spending money--save the money, and compete as you are.

Sunfish "creds" will be building as you outsail the competition. :cool:
 

kmisegades

Swamp Goose
A few years back I needed a trailer for the 'Tuffy' motor boat I built from Glen-L plans. I found one for $150 and it came with a ragged old Sunfish, with the old rudder mount and no dagger board or rudder. The Sunfish is now on the water more than the Tuffy, it is so much fun. Since I got it I made several dagger boards and rudders from plywood, and eventually bought a glass dagger board. I made a tiller, bought the modern rudder cheek, Harken Cam-Cleat for the mainsheet, Harken tiller extension, and an inexpensive recreational sail from SFD. I have invested perhaps $400 total in purchased parts but the boat steadily improves in performance. Plus I am getting better at handling it as I sail 2-3 times a week in all kinds of conditions. After Christmas I plan to cut the hull apart and do a complete foam and glass restoration inside and out, following the guidelines one finds online and in the book 'Sunfish Owner's Manual' by Kent Lewis. I have developed some other parts for it that make it easier to sail and I believe also faster. I will post details on these in early 2020. On a related matter - can anyone suggest a simple app or option in Google maps that will allow me to log my sailing? I am most interested to see my speed along the course. No need to watch this while sailing. I want to review this once I am back home. Thanks!
 
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Charles Howard

Active Member
What does the boat weigh? Have you air tested it for leaks? Unless the boat is way overrweight I would not cut it open. If it leaks I would fix the leaks. You have an older hull, if it works enjoy it.
 

kmisegades

Swamp Goose
Please don’t wait til 2020. Interested sailors would like to know now!
Thanks for the encouragement. So far I am happy with progress but I need more data to confirm the performance improvements meet my predictions. What I lack right now is a good data tracker APP to analyze speed, direction, etc. Any suggestions?
 

kmisegades

Swamp Goose
Be interesting to hear the improvements. Are these changes just for your club racing? Very hard to test on open water and there are so many variables.
Indeed. But the prediction programs we use are quite good, well validated. Otherwise we just sail as much as possible on the same triangular circuit on our lake. Today was fast, 42 minutes. We’re recording speed, distance and direction and will eventually report on comparisons of old versus new.
 

L&VW

Well-Known Member
I’m about 110 percent sure that isn’t correct.
Aluminum-trim bow, from my nice 1971 Sunfish:
Fullscreen capture 5262018 92354 AM.bmp.jpg


Then a wreck, one of two "decorations" (one blue, the other yellow) outside of a Dunedin, S.W. FL restaurant:
Maybe I misidentified the "decorations"? :(

Fullscreen capture 4292017 70919 PM.bmp-002.jpg

But the bow of a Windflite rolled-edge appears like the blue bow. :confused:
One of my nice '75 Sunfish:
Photos 3112017 53315 AM.bmp.jpg
I don't know how this photo got in here, but it's the same as the above.

Fullscreen capture 4292017 70919 PM.bmp-002.jpgFullscreen capture 5262018 92354 AM.bmp.jpg
Trailex-SUT-300-U-Sunfish-Side[1].JPG
Advertisement for dolly, citing 13'10" Sunfish.
 
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beldar boathead

Well-Known Member
A windflite and a Sunfish were very similar but different boats so a difference between the two shouldn't be surprising You should compare a metal edged Sunfish to a rolled edge Sunfish. I could be 110% wrong in my claim!
 
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My two cents worth........
Same racing situation, local club stuff.....I am 62 and have been racing about 10 years....
Used to sail my trusty 1972 Sunfish. I have the new rudder, better daggerboard, new non-class-legal sail. Even though I'd dry the boat out, was always chasing leaks and stuff, and it just felt heavy...
Bought a 2003 Sunfish for $1000 last spring. It had been in a garage for a long time. Put a new sail on it as well as new lines. I may not be faster but I sure feel faster!!!! (Actually I am the race timer, and I seem to be about 5% faster....either I am just getting better, everyone else is getting worse, the boat could be better/lighter, or maybe because I feel faster, I am faster!) ;););););)
Seriously, the boat is nicer and I enjoy sailing it more. So that in itself made it worth it. Going to give my old boat to the club to use as a trainer for new kids who want to learn to sail. Its a win-win for us all!

Merry Christmas........

Mike
 

Charles Howard

Active Member
2003's are good boats with a good weight. The new hull will be stiffer than the 1972, as they do soften. The sail is the engine and new ones make a big difference.
 

Sams

New Member
How “soft” is soft? Again, referring to my 1968 boat, is there a reasonable way to evaluate this? Compression with hand, how much, etc? Still not fully decided on upgrading or replacing, although leaning heavily toward upgrading.

Thanks for the help!
 

Webfoot1

Active Member
I think the just of it is whenever you have two matched experts going at it, be it
any type of competition, warfare or sport, that five or ten percent may be the
deciding difference. No real way to judge the absolute stiffness of the hull but
my guess is that after two years the hull will pick up condensation inside and
there is no way to prevent this. Probably the percentage of new boats competing
rises sharply as you get near the upper ranks so starting out with a older boat will not
be a problem. There is always the guy sailing a ragged out Flying Dutchman
that can casually beat the pants off everyone else with newer boats. All things
being equal I'd at least invest in a new racing sail every two years.

You can push on the hull under the cockpit, if it flexes the glue pads between
the hull and the tub have come loose.
 

Sams

New Member
Hello Sailflow,

No travel or regattas. It's a club on a small lake in Connecticut. When I was a kid, there were typically about 25 - 30 boats racing (looked at my old trophys and oldest one I have is from 1972!). It's now dwindled to about 12-15 boats on any given weekend. If you are familiar with Mike Catalano (former champion Sunfish racer with comments in many Sunfish publications), this is the lake that he learned and raced on along with us "back in the day". They break the group into the Silver and Gold fleets, but in reality, the Silver fleet should really be called a "vintage" fleet since everyone has old colored sales, wooden blades, and old boats, the Gold fleet guys pretty much all have racing sails, current dagger boards, and newer boats. They start the Silver fleet with a 4 minute head start, and our typical course is about 45- 60 minutes to complete. The Gold fleet guys usually catch the Silver fleet which makes sense based on sail area alone (about 6.5% more effective sail area with a race sail which easily accounts for 4 minutes in a 60 minute race).
 
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