New Sailor: which Sunfish for me??

Thread starter #1
Experience limited to Hobie and sunfish type craft on vacations years ago.

Ready to buy a sailboat.

i do not want a cat and am between a Laser, Sunfish or Sunfish "pro".

I will never race but rather having just retired will sail 2-3 days a week on a large lake.

I am a big guy at 245 but muscular.

As i understand it the Laser is "less comfortable" and recommended for more athletic individuals. also more prone to capsizing?

Difference between the Sunfish and Sunfish race is the sail, cunningham and other little items to tune the sail(of which i currently know nothing about).

If you put me in a boat i can tack and jibe but am not proficient although i can get out and back.

So for a new sailor looking to just have fun do i go for the fastest with all the adjustments (Laser), the middle of the road Sunfish Pro or the basic Sunfish?

Will i really have more fun if I have the cunningham and those other items on the race version Sunfish?

I really don't need an extra .5 kts for what i propose to do.

i have read the Laser will point higher upwind but if I'm not competitive do i care. On the other hand i have read that with the Sunfish I can go out on a very windy day whereas in the Laser i will have my hands full!

Any point in getting the race version sunfish sail on the non-race sunfish? I do like the little window.

I suppose I need to know should i get the Miata,Corvette or Ferrari?

Thanks.

BTW: Am i too heavy for these choices cause i really don't want to venture into the cat world/

Appreciate the help.
 

beldar boathead

Well-Known Member
#2
You definitely do not need a Sunfish pro. The extra adjustments are only useful for racers.

at 245 lbs you will be able to go upwind in a Laser when it is windy with no problem. Downwind in a Laser on a windy day is a very wild ride with likely a lot of flipping until you practice a lot. It also takes longer to rig due to the lines for vang, outhaul, etc. you should post this on the Laser board too to see what they say.
 

JohnCT

Active Member
#3
The "extra" adjustments such as vang cunningham and outhaul are NOT just for racers. Having them and learning to use them is called "learning how to sail"

Sails need to be properly adjusted to have the correct shape for the current wind and water conditions, it's called "sail trim". By having the sail properly trimmed, the boat points better, heels less, sails faster and steers better.
 
Thread starter #4
The "extra" adjustments such as vang cunningham and outhaul are NOT just for racers. Having them and learning to use them is called "learning how to sail"

Sails need to be properly adjusted to have the correct shape for the current wind and water conditions, it's called "sail trim". By having the sail properly trimmed, the boat points better, heels less, sails faster and steers better.
So you disagree with Boathead. I see your point but should I get the upgraded version. Is it a fair analogy to motorcycle with fixed vs tunable suspension? the average rider will never feel the difference but a proficient rider will want the adjustments. If I only plan on "fun" sailing will I really be that much better with a tuned sail if I do not plan on attaining "elite" status?

I don't mind paying for extra items if i will use them. I wonder how many people have the cunningham etc and just leave it set "in the middle" rather than taking time to tune. Is it more a matter of more speed or rather a smoother feeling? i am not sure how exactly to pose this question being a new sailor.

Example, i ride motorcycle as do my friends. Most of us never play with the suspension but if we did we may feel a difference. In the boat is a case of may feel or will for sure feel?

Thanks for the help
 
#5
So you disagree with Boathead. I see your point but should I get the upgraded version. Is it a fair analogy to motorcycle with fixed vs tunable suspension? the average rider will never feel the difference but a proficient rider will want the adjustments. If I only plan on "fun" sailing will I really be that much better with a tuned sail if I do not plan on attaining "elite" status?

I don't mind paying for extra items if i will use them. I wonder how many people have the cunningham etc and just leave it set "in the middle" rather than taking time to tune. Is it more a matter of more speed or rather a smoother feeling? i am not sure how exactly to pose this question being a new sailor.

Example, i ride motorcycle as do my friends. Most of us never play with the suspension but if we did we may feel a difference. In the boat is a case of may feel or will for sure feel?

Thanks for the help
Having the adjustments of a race rigged Sunfish gives you more control during high winds and more power during light winds. Overall it will make you sailing experience better. Given your needs it seems you should consider a used boat in good shape instead of a new one (if you can find a new one now).
 

JohnCT

Active Member
#6
I consider myself a sailor, nothing more nothing less.
Knowing how to get the best from my boat makes my experience better.
In light wind, my boat moves when others don't, in heavier air, my boat stays upright while others are turtling.

I'm not elite or special, I have a 1968 that I upgraded a little. I don't even race it. But the day your hiked out so far that you can see under the boat on plane, you appreciate all the little tricks that got you there.
 
Thread starter #7
I consider myself a sailor, nothing more nothing less.
Knowing how to get the best from my boat makes my experience better.
In light wind, my boat moves when others don't, in heavier air, my boat stays upright while others are turtling.

I'm not elite or special, I have a 1968 that I upgraded a little. I don't even race it. But the day your hiked out so far that you can see under the boat on plane, you appreciate all the little tricks that got you there.
I see your point.

Worth a few hundred more.

Thanks again.

Cannot find "newer" used here in Fl. i'll go for new. Seems like many dealers are out of stock. Sailing season? Production issues?
 

andyatos

Active Member
#8
Hi DrJay44,

I think you should go with a Sunfish to start. And then as you get a bunch of hours in the boat, you can always find a Laser owner... or someone who rents them... and spend an afternoon on the Laser to see what you think.

I've got both the Laser (2) and the Sunfish (3). And even though I'm totally a performance and efficiency nut, there are times when it's a no brainer for me which boat I want to take out. And that's the Sunfish. It's just so much easier and quicker to rig, more stable, higher boom, etc.

As far as having a cunningham and adjustable outhaul, absolutely yes... you should have those. For all the reasons pointed out above. And even if you get a used boat that doesn't have them, it's a fairly easy matter to create your own. That's what I did with my Sunfish.

Here's an example of why you want a vang, cunningham and outhaul on your Sunfish. I have a friend who has a fair amount of experience sailing larger boats but wasn't familiar with the fact that Lasers, Sunfishes and other dinghies have cunninghams, adjustable outhauls, vangs, etc. We rigged my Sunfish for him based on the light winds we were experiencing at the boat ramp. That is, a full, powerful sail. We then went sailing. Him in the Sunfish, me in the Laser.

Of course, 5 minutes after we hit the water, the wind picked way up. I could immediately tell that he was way overpowered so I sailed up to him and had him pull on a bunch of outhaul and cunningham. 20 minutes later we pulled up to each other for a visit. I asked him how the adjustments I had him make at the beginning of the session had worked. And he said, "Oh, man... what a difference! It totally made the boat have nice manners again."

Cheers,

- Andy
 
Last edited:
Thread starter #9
Hi DrJay44,

I think you should go with a Sunfish to start. And then as you get a bunch of hours in the boat, you can always find a Laser owner... or someone who rents them... and spend an afternoon on the Laser to see what you think.

I've got both the Laser (2) and the Sunfish (3). And even though I'm totally a performance and efficiency nut, there are times when it's a no brainer for me which boat I want to take out. That is, the Sunfish. It's just so much easier and quicker to rig, more stable, higher boom, etc.

As far as having a cunningham and adjustable outhaul, absolutely yes... you should have those. For all the reasons pointed out above. And even if you get a used boat that doesn't have them, it's a fairly easy matter to create your own. That's what I did with my Sunfish.

Here's an example of why you want a vang, cunningham and outhaul on your Sunfish. I have a friend who has a fair amount of experience sailing larger boats but wasn't familiar with the fact that Lasers, Sunfishes, etc, have cunninghams, adjustable outhauls, vangs, etc. We rigged my Sunfish for him based on the light winds we were experiencing at the boat ramp. That is, a full, powerful sail. We then went sailing. Him in the Sunfish, me in the Laser.

Of course, 5 minutes after we hit the water, the wind picked way up. I could immediately tell that he was way overpowered so I sailed up to him and had him pull on a bunch of outhaul and cunningham. 20 minutes later we pulled up to each other for a visit. I asked him how the adjustments I had him make at the beginning of the session had worked. And he said, "Oh, man... what a difference! It totally made the boat have nice manners again."

Cheers,

- Andy

SOLD !!!
 

mixmkr

Active Member
#10
Sounds like you got a Sunfish, I'm presuming. Good choice. As far as the vang, Cunningham, etc... you can easily add those yourself and at much less cost than having them done for you, either by the dealer, etc They are basically just extra line that is rigged with minimum hardware for the cleats on the spars. If you're out knocking around, I agree you don't need all that stuff, but it is fun to play with. I'm guessing until you are fairly familiar with the boat, you won't notice a Cunningham or outhaul adjustment. Small sail trim items, but the idea is when they are added together, make a much more noticeable difference. That said, sailing along side another Sunfish, you make a small adjustment for the positive, you'll pull away slowly. However in your case, I think the weight is more critical and how well you keep the hull situated in the water will make much bigger differences. Playing wind shifts and sailing smartly will greatly outweigh any tech stuff on the boat, ...even hull, rudder and daggerboard fairing. All that stuff makes a difference when EVERYONE else is doing it in a race and they typically don't make mistakes and are good sailors. Then that extra edge more importantly comes into play.
That's my $.02 as a fairly recent avid fish sailor but a keel boat sailor for many years.
 
#13
I agree. As someone who has recently moved to a sunfish from a boat with loads of control lines to fiddle with, I enjoy the simplicity. It is no less "sailing". I am no less of a sailor because I am not constantly adjusting my kicker, outhaul and downhaul. It's just simpler...which I like.
 

Wavedancer

Upside down?
Staff member
#16
Cannot find "newer" used here in Fl. i'll go for new. Seems like many dealers are out of stock. Sailing season? Production issues?
There has been a problem getting boats after the manufacturing was moved to China. If you scan the forum, you will find threads related to that unfortunate issue. Therefore, you may not have a choice when buying new. I suggest that you contact one or more dealers and find out what their stock is.
Good luck!

PS: I also see that you like a window in your sail. Definitely helpful. If you were to buy a standard Sunfish you can ask your dealer to upgrade you to a race sail.
2. You can have a window installed by a sailmaker, or you can do it yourself from a kit.
3. You can buy a nice window sail from Intensity for relatively little.
 
#17
Sunfish are hard to get today as said above. I ordered mine mid April with an estimated early June arrival date. Got a call from the dealer June 1st who said it will not be in til late July as they are behind with the upcoming Sunfish Worlds. I wouldn't expect to get a boat before the summer is over, maybe you don't care or would rather want to wait til next February. Just some added info to consider.
 
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