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Racing Deck Sighting Lines

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Here is a photo from Bob Bravier's book "Keys to Racing Success" (1981). It shows something that I always thought was a great idea: using guidelines painted or taped onto the deck to help when tacking, and also a "mast abeam helmsman" line across the cockpit. You can also see two stopwatches on his wrist, a course plotter of some sort, and a calculator. Down where I sail on the Gulf Coast, nobody seems to use such things on Sunfish, BUT back when I did a lot of bigger boat racing a few years ago it was not uncommon to paint guidelines on your deck to show how tight to trim the jib, where optimum mainsheet trim was achieved and so forth. And we all used course calculators, plotting boards and stopwatches.

So.... here's my question: Do you think lines like that would be helpful on a Sunfish? Obviously it worked for the guy in the picture, since he was one of the more successful racers in the 1970's. One of my friends thinks it would be "operator overload" to use it, and believes "flying by the seat of your pants" is better. I'm not so sure. What do you think?

Dave
 

minifish2

Active Member
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Here is a photo from Bob Bravier's book "Keys to Racing Success" (1981). It shows something that I always thought was a great idea: using guidelines painted or taped onto the deck to help when tacking, and also a "mast abeam helmsman" line across the cockpit. You can also see two stopwatches on his wrist, a course plotter of some sort, and a calculator. Down where I sail on the Gulf Coast, nobody seems to use such things on Sunfish, BUT back when I did a lot of bigger boat racing a few years ago it was not uncommon to paint guidelines on your deck to show how tight to trim the jib, where optimum mainsheet trim was achieved and so forth. And we all used course calculators, plotting boards and stopwatches.

So.... here's my question: Do you think lines like that would be helpful on a Sunfish? Obviously it worked for the guy in the picture, since he was one of the more successful racers in the 1970's. One of my friends thinks it would be "operator overload" to use it, and believes "flying by the seat of your pants" is better. I'm not so sure. What do you think?

Dave
Since there is no such thing as 'mast abeam' anymore in the rules, I would dispense with that particular line.

That said, there are a handful of Sunfish sailors who use tape sightlines. One of the more more notable proponents north of the mason-dixon is a most helpful - especially to those starting out - physics professor* who swears by them. Of course there's a whole lot of other interesting stuff going on with his boat as well.

Most of those who mark the settings on their spars pretty much follow suggestions in this tuning guide article:
sunfishclass.org/documents/tuning_guide.pdf

*Sunfish Bible p.143 ('96 ed)
 

minifish2

Active Member
What is that series of arrows under the tiller represent?
Championship chevrons. The ones with the 'T' underneath designate winning a team championship.

A blast from the past. We can guess that the sheer number were too much to be pasting to his sail, so he went with a deck mode instead. These days that might come across as a bit pretentious, though the gold sunfish logo (at least one on a Ponce world sail) can be kind of cool, when you see it.
 
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That is Carl Knight, one of the best. You have a good eye, my friend.

As far as the "mast abeam" line goes, I know that it's no longer applicable by the rules...... but I'm not so sure that the 90 degree deck line doesn't have some uses, especially when figuring a lay-line to a windward mark. It would seem to be helpful in determining the right time to make the lay-line tack.

I think the chevrons are GREAT.
 

L&VW

Well-Known Member
That is Carl Knight, one of the best. You have a good eye, my friend.

As far as the "mast abeam" line goes, I know that it's no longer applicable by the rules...... but I'm not so sure that the 90 degree deck line doesn't have some uses, especially when figuring a lay-line to a windward mark. It would seem to be helpful in determining the right time to make the lay-line tack.

I think the chevrons are GREAT.
Some competitors would be "psyched-out"—I would be! :(
 

steffenme1

New Member
Championship chevrons. The ones with the 'T' underneath designate winning a team championship.

A blast from the past. We can guess that the sheer number were too much to be pasting to his sail, so he went with a deck mode instead. These days that might come across as a bit pretentious, though the gold sunfish logo (at least one on a Ponce world sail) can be kind of cool, when you see it.
Ahhh.... thank you, interesting tidbit for sure.
 
After some more thought, and reading your comments..... I went ahead and added the stripes to my deck. Then over the week-end I went out on the bay to see how they work. I love 'em! They actually do work well when planning and carrying through with tacks. I think Mr Knight was right to use them.

Thank you all for your comments. (Now all I need to do is go win a few races so I can earn some of the psyching-out chevrons! )
 
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Foxbox61

New Member
On the occasion of this years 50th Sunfish Worlds i tried to find the sailors of the 1st edition, 1970 St Thomas (VIR). On top of my list was to find Carl Knight... and i found him. I asked him first about the chevrons. ...
"One picture of me sailing showed a set of 8 chevrons fixed to the aft deck of my boat.
I can't find my list of the dates and places they were earned, but here is the best, not in order.
Most forward is the black Darien Sunfish Yacht Racing Assn (home club) which I finally won after always missing the summer schedule since I was away racing on the "circuit" every summer.
There was only one (of four) red NA singles Champ chevrons. The photo was taken at the 2nd victory. There is only one of my 4 NA Team Race chevrons. The one gold World Team Race chevron was won in Venezuela. Finally, there is a blue chevron won at the Light Corinthian Championship on eastern Long Island, NY. The Blue award never seemed to get continued and expanded for major intermediate level races as we were told would happen.
There is a blank space not filled which announced my un-chevroned Aruba-2nd, Venezuela-4th and Bermuda-5th best World Championship finishes and hopelessly awaits the gold." . I am awaiting an answer to the deck line question. This answer is on FB too (sunfishworlds) maybe a discussion starts there!
 
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