New Sunfish Sail Question

I have not posted for a long time and my boat is still in hibernation as we still have snow swirling around here in Eastern Canada. I am getting ready for a few weeks in Tampa FL area on the gulf beaches and so I was checking out Craigslist for that area and I see that the Sunfish boats that were used for the resent worlds are for sale. That got me thinking about sailing and the forum, so here I am again.
I remember reading that racer's use to pick through the local boat shops inventory sunfish sails to find the best sail for racing. With the advancement of computer lofting and cutting is there any reason to think that these sails are not all exactly the same? I am sure a lot of people just order a new sail online now days but I know if I had the choice I would sooner pick through an inventory of racing sails or even recreational sail looking for shape differences . The observations of the sails used in Buffalo are a case in point.
The benefits of the new center board seem to be well documented and that is what had me looking on craigslist Tampa. I would love to pick up one of those boats but for now a new sail and centerboard would be fine.
Minas man
Are you racing? Or just recreational?

First off, I doubt that any dealer these days is going to let you unwrap new sails from their plastic bags and let you lay them out, hoping that you will fold them back properly, clean-as-new, with no new creases or signs they've been opened. Second, think about when you've taken a brand new sail out of the bag and tried to lay it smooth (even to just put numbers on, for example). The fold creases prevent laying it flat even to be able to tell relative sizes with much precision.

If you are talking recreational, or even some casual club racing, I'd lean towards Intensity's aftermarket, for the value and the quality. In one regard, I still feel that defection is almost sacrilegious, but based on my own limited new-sail purchase experience, I've had it with the North crap-shoot. For all that money I have higher one-design standards than what I actually got, or have observed. In my case I figured I must be going nuts, but after listening to a rant from a New England class stalwart about his overlaying sails from different eras on each other and finding variations not so much in the way they are cut but the way they are sewn, I'm not so sure I'm crazy. Ok, I got that off.

Comparing the earlier Sri Lankan sails for a bit over decade ago at one extreme, to the Buffalo ones at the other - and those are no myth - and everything in between, and again the price premium for his supposed one- design quality control, I'd go with intensity unless you are looking at class events, in which case it's North, and I'd be curious if you could find some way to do much individual inspection.


Well-Known Member
I remember back in the day a Star class racer was trying to determine which jib went best with each mainsail he owned. The boat was on land and he used a long tell tale on a stick to check the airflow from the jib to the main. Took him all day to do this but I was never sure if he got his answer. My point being that just looking at the sails on the ground probably won't tell you much especially the before mentioned creases still being in the sail. I suspect that if the sails are all made at the same loft, then they are pretty close to being the same. Perhaps the buffalo sails were made at a different sail loft.

There was also a story that one of the greatest sailors (Paul Elvstrom) admitted that he may not have been the fastest boat in a tack, but by the later races he was still doing 10 second tacks whereas the others that started the day at 7 second tacks, were now doing 13 second tacks. So the little differences in sail shape or cut, could be made up in sailing skill.

beldar boathead

Well-Known Member
after listening to a rant from a New England class stalwart about his overlaying sails from different eras on each other and finding variations not so much in the way they are cut but the way they are sewn, I'm not so sure I'm crazy.
Does your stalwart NE sailor have the initials GG? If so, we can follow up by PM.
Thread starter #25
Back to the original question about 2005 sails.
I set the sail up according to the printed suggestions.
What a difference.
In the Florida Regionals Saturday races I managed 1-2-5-1 in nice breeze.
(Uh, the race 4 first was not "beeped" when I crossed the line. Those of us who followed the On-line Sailing Instructinos sailed course 3 as shown. The printed ones handed out showed a different course 3. So much for saving trees.)
Point is, set the sail on the booms and on the mast c orrectly.
Made a huge difference.
Dave Ellis
PS: Boat is for sale $1775 with Sietech dolly and Harbor Freight road trailer.