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Sunfish rigging question

bhm

Member
This is a very basic question. I started sailing in June, with a mail-order Sailboats-to-go modular sailrig on my kayak and canoe, like so:

DSC04757.JPG

Here the mainsheet runs through a pulley in the middle of the boom, and I sail it with one end tied to the crossbar that supports the outriggers and leeboards, and the other end in my hand, giving a 2 to 1 mechanical advantage. This works fine so far. Jim Luckett of STG says "cleating the sheet greatly increases your risk of capsizing", so I am always holding the sheet in my hand, and always ready to de-power the sail by letting it out.

Recently I acquired a Minifish, partly because somebody on this site said that centerboard boats point better than leeboard boats. I've had it in the water for a paddle test, but haven't sailed it yet. I plan to sail it first with the 45 sq foot STG/Snark sail I am used to, rather than the 65 sq foot Minifish sail, so I test-rigged it that way, using an old Sunfish gooseneck that I bought on E-Bay and adapted to fit the STG boom. (I also added a halyard pulley at the top of the Minifish mast, and another one attached to the deck cleat, to make it easier to raise and lower the sail while on the water, as I do on my other boats. This is more of me being a cautious beginner: if things get hairy, I want to always be able to just drop the sail and comfortably paddle home. That's also why my custom 10-foot kayak paddle is always part of the rig.) It looks like this:



DSC04976.JPG
Here I rigged the mainsheet the same way, through the center pulley on the boom and with one end tied to the crossbar that I mounted in front of the cockpit (to hold the same STG outriggers), and I expect to sail it in the same way I do the canoe and kayak, except for having a tiller instead of steering oars.

However, the Minifish and Sunfish sails seem designed for a different rigging, where one end of the mainsheet is clipped to a yoke or traveller at the stern, then runs through two pulleys along the boom, and I guess you again hold the free end in your hand. (This is just me looking at the gear, trying to guess how it's supposed to work.) My question is, what if any advantage does that have over what is shown here? Obviously if I hung the larger Minifish sail in place of this STG sail I could rig it this same way, just using the pulley in the middle of the Minifish boom and ignoring the pulley at the end of the boom and the traveller at the stern. Would I be losing anything?

More broadly, why is the Sunfish rigged that way, not this way? Why not just have a second horn cleat at the front of the cockpit, to tie the sheet to, the way I tie it to my crossbar here (which I will eventually mount some cleats on, as I have on my other boats; I just haven't gotten around to that yet). The mechanical advantage seems to be 2 to 1 with either rig. As far as I can see the traveller at the back just increases the risk of capsizing by constraining the free motion of the sail around the mast, for example by an unexpected jibe, making it harder to de-power the sail just by letting go of the sheet. Am I wrong? And if I'm not wrong, what do you gain in exchange for this greater risk?
 

beldar boathead

Well-Known Member
First, I think you may be under the impression sailing a Sunfish (or Minifish) is hard to sail. It is not - It's simple https://www.sunfishclass.org/documents/learn_2_sail_in_3_days.pdf The boat has been amazingly successful since its intro in 1955, so you should be confident it is well-designed. The Mini was designed 20 or so years after the Sunfish, so if the Sunfish had had big problems they would have fixed it with the Mini.

Secondly, the keep it simple principle applies. I know you have sailed outrigger boats before, so you have made this an outrigger. However, I think that is going to make it much harder to sail the Minifish, which was not designed for pontoons. As soon as the boat tips enough to put the outrigger in the water, what is going to happen is the pontoon is going to cause a lot of drag, and spin the boat towards the pontoon - the rudder is not designed to counteract a pontoon dragging in the water. The boat will sail much better without the pontoons and crossbar as you won't have something causing drag and trying to spin the boat. I know your rationale is that you have sailed only boats with pontoons, so you put pontoons on this . That is analogous to saying you have only ridden motorcycles, so when you buy your first car you take 2 wheels off to be more like a motorcycle.

Third, having the sheet only in the middle is going to make it VASTLY harder to sheet the sail in if there is much wind. The longer a lever is, the easier it is to move or lift something. By having the sheet use a block (pulley) at the end of the boom, you have a much longer lever. Having the sheet only in the middle means you have a really short lever to pull in the sail. There are some other sail shape reasons to have the sheet at the end, but the lever length is probably the main reason.

Those Snark booms look fragile - they are about the diameter of spaghetti. They look very easy to break if there is much wind, although I realize it is a small sail. I'd suggest starting with the Minifish sail, and if it is too much then shift to the Snark sail.

Lastly, you state "As far as I can see the traveler at the back just increases the risk of capsizing by constraining the free motion of the sail around the mast, for example by an unexpected jibe, making it harder to de-power the sail just by letting go of the sheet. Am I wrong? " I really don't get the question. The sail doesn't have much need to rotate ahead of the mast, but with a really long sheet a normally rigged Mini can have the sail go waaaay out. I don't see how the mid-boom rig would be any different, but in any event, there is no reason why the normal rig would be a problem.

I also see the rudder blade has been re-drilled with new holes. What does it look like in the down position?

I'd like to end by going back to the fact Sunfish and Minifish are well-designed and easy to sail. I think you should learn to sail it as they are designed, then if you want to experiment with modifications, try them once you have a handle on sailing it in its normal configuration.
 

L&VW

Well-Known Member
This is a very basic question.

Recently I acquired a Minifish, partly because somebody on this site said that centerboard boats point better than leeboard boats. I've had it in the water for a paddle test, but haven't sailed it yet. I plan to sail it first with the 45 sq foot STG/Snark sail I am used to, rather than the 65 sq foot Minifish sail, so I test-rigged it that way, using an old Sunfish gooseneck that I bought on E-Bay and adapted to fit the STG boom. (I also added a halyard pulley at the top of the Minifish mast, and another one attached to the deck cleat, to make it easier to raise and lower the sail while on the water, as I do on my other boats. This is more of me being a cautious beginner: if things get hairy, I want to always be able to just drop the sail and comfortably paddle home. That's also why my custom 10-foot kayak paddle is always part of the rig.) It looks like this:



View attachment 48991
Here I rigged the mainsheet the same way, through the center pulley on the boom and with one end tied to the crossbar that I mounted in front of the cockpit (to hold the same STG outriggers), and I expect to sail it in the same way I do the canoe and kayak, except for having a tiller instead of steering oars.

However, the Minifish and Sunfish sails seem designed for a different rigging, where one end of the mainsheet is clipped to a yoke or traveller at the stern, then runs through two pulleys along the boom, and I guess you again hold the free end in your hand. (This is just me looking at the gear, trying to guess how it's supposed to work.) My question is, what if any advantage does that have over what is shown here? Obviously if I hung the larger Minifish sail in place of this STG sail I could rig it this same way, just using the pulley in the middle of the Minifish boom and ignoring the pulley at the end of the boom and the traveller at the stern. Would I be losing anything?

More broadly, why is the Sunfish rigged that way, not this way? Why not just have a second horn cleat at the front of the cockpit, to tie the sheet to, the way I tie it to my crossbar here (which I will eventually mount some cleats on, as I have on my other boats; I just haven't gotten around to that yet). The mechanical advantage seems to be 2 to 1 with either rig. As far as I can see the traveller at the back just increases the risk of capsizing by constraining the free motion of the sail around the mast, for example by an unexpected jibe, making it harder to de-power the sail just by letting go of the sheet. Am I wrong? And if I'm not wrong, what do you gain in exchange for this greater risk?
Leeboards' advantage is use in shallow waters, where "more" board can be used to counter sideways drift. 'Also helpful when considering the retrofit of a centerboard trunk to an aluminum canoe. :oops: (Where leaks can be introduced--although leeboards can ship a lot of water over canoe gunwales all by themselves!) :confused:

Stability can be improved by rigging the sail to be as low as practicable. Also, adjust the gooseneck so the tack (forward corner) is lower than the (rear) clew.

Pontoons will introduce drag, and make pointing to windward worse. (As sailing-canoes are wont to do).
 

bhm

Member
Once you put the board down the boat is stable.
Surely if that were true, then no one would ever capsize. And yet apparently everyone does, even experts, and you are supposed to just accept this as an inevitable fact of life when sailing a dinghy. Well, I don't want to accept that. I put the outriggers on because I am much more averse to capsizing than most Sunfish sailors seem to be. I don't care if they add drag. My canoe with these outriggers and this sail on it already goes as fast as I currently want to go (my top speed so far is 5 mph, by GPS). The Sunfish planing hull is surely faster than the canoe displacement hull, as I've confirmed by paddling it with my kayak paddle; on flat water it feels about 50% faster, so this hybrid rig must surely sail at least as fast as my canoe with this same sail and these same outriggers, and that's fast enough for me. More sail is just asking for trouble, except on low wind days. All I am hoping for from this new hybrid boat is an ability to point higher into the wind at the same safe, dry, slow comfortable speeds as my canoe currently goes, so I have more freedom of navigation at those same safe speeds. I am touring, not racing.

'Also helpful when considering the retrofit of a centerboard trunk to an aluminum canoe. :oops: (Where leaks can be introduced--although leeboards can ship a lot of water over canoe gunwales all by themselves!) :confused:
My canoe does not ship water over the gunwhales at the speeds I am sailing it. My kayak did; that's why I moved this sailrig from the kayak to the canoe. But then you told me on Sep. 18 in this forum that "Sailing Canoes in general, don't point to windward very well. A Sunfish is a much better pointer!" That's what I will be testing with this hybrid boat. But my first priority is still not capsizing, so the outriggers are staying on, and we'll find out (now or next season) how that combination performs. I have indeed been thinking about retrofitting a daggerboard trunk in my canoe if this doesn't work, but it seems easier to first try a hull that already has a hole cut through it, as long as there is one like this that I can buy, and can also carry in the back of my car.

As soon as the boat tips enough to put the outrigger in the water, what is going to happen is the pontoon is going to cause a lot of drag, and spin the boat towards the pontoon - the rudder is not designed to counteract a pontoon dragging in the water.
This has not been an issue for me with the STG rig so far: when sailing across the wind the boat normally heels far enough that the downwind outrigger is completely submerged, but the boat still sails straight. Of course that is with twin steering oars, and following the STG recommendation to always steer using the oar on the downwind side, which is directly behind the outrigger in the water, and maybe that is somehow counteracting the turning effect you predict. But if I encounter that problem with this boat, I can always mount the STG steering gear on the stern and use that instead of the rudder, bringing it ever-closer to something just like my canoe or a sit-on-top kayak except with a ready-made hole in the hull for a daggerboard. I may do that anyway, since in addition to steering the boat I currently use the steering oar to adjust the heading of the boat every few seconds so I can choose the optimal angle to climb each wave as I approach it, and I will be sorry to lose this ability with a sternpost rudder. I'm sure I lose some speed this way, but again I care more about staying dry than about going fast, so I would rather climb a wave than crash through it and get drenched in spray.

PS the old wooden rudder has already visibly been split and repaired in the past; maybe those holes were drilled as part of a previous repair attempt. I already ordered one of the new fiberglass ones to replace it.
 
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Beldar did a great explanation and I would agree with everything he said.

The only other thing I would emphasize is lowering the sail height as much as you are comfortable while still being able to duck under the boom. Remember that the higher that sail is, the more lever force you will have attempting to blow you over when you are at a close haul. Lowering the sail will decrease your risk of capsize. If you are still worried about capsizing, if you have higher winds be careful not to go too close to the wind (close haul has more heel) and do controlled jibes or avoid jibes all together until you are more experienced and/or conditions are easier. If you get a gust and start to heel more than you are comfortable with, just let out the main sheet a bit to depower the sail, or fall off a bit - you’ll level right out.
 

4cpus4me

Active Member
I'm thinking any boat that gets you out sailing is a great boat and am looking forward to seeing this thing in action.
 
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bhm

Member
I sailed this boat with this rig for the first time today, for about an hour (weather 47 degrees and cloudy, wind 10 mph), and now all these questions are answered. L&VW is right that the Mini with daggerboard points higher than the canoe with leeboards; it seemed like a full 45 degrees. I was right that this hull with the STG sail and outriggers would go faster than my canoe with the same sail and outriggers, and it did: 5.2 mph going straight downwind on the way back, a little higher than my previous top speed with the canoe, even while staying near the shore for safety in the cold weather, thus probably not catching the full 10 mph wind, while my previous top speeds were attained far from shore. So I was also right to think that the 45 sq foot STG sail was the right way for me to start with this boat: I might have had a lot more trouble handling the 65 sq foot Minifish sail on this shakedown cruise. Finally, Beldar's concern that drag from the outriggers might mess up the steering did not materialize: going 4 mph on a broad reach with the downwind outrigger totally submerged, the boat still sailed straight and responded well to the rudder.

The one really tricky part for me was getting used to steering with the tiller rather than steering oars. With the STG rig when the boat is going the wrong way (especially, when it gets pointed downwind while I am trying to sail upwind) I always just sheet out and hike the stern around with the steering oar, and of course you can't do this when there is no steering oar. So I had to remember what the sailing books say about how the rudder only works when the boat is moving forward, and take the to-me unintuitive action of sheeting in to speed up the boat even though it is currently pointing in the wrong direction, just to get it moving enough for the rudder to bite so I can turn it back into the wind. Also I lost my grip on the tiller a couple of times since I am used to switching sheet hands when I come about (since the left-hand steering oar can only be held with the left hand etc.), so I was similarly trying to change hands on sheet versus tiller when I came about, and lost the tiller a couple of times. But then I figured out that I don't need to change hands at all with this rig, and can keep the same sheet-hand and tiller-hand on either tack.

This issue was probably aggravated by the fact that I was sitting facing forward in a seat with a back, indeed the same black stadium seat on a board laid across the gunwhales shown in my canoe picture above, only now laid across the back of the Minifish cockpit, with some blocks screwed onto the underside to keep it from sliding back or sideways. I didn't show that seat in the Minifish picture I posted earlier, for fear of further aggravating Sunfish purists. So in this forward-facing position my steering hand is behind the back of the seat, holding the tiller extension, in contrast to the pictures I see of people sitting in a Sunfish always on one side or the other, facing downwind with the tiller in front of them. I was ready to turn sideways like that if necessary, and fold the seat flat if it got in the way of the tiller, and maybe I will do that eventually if I start trying to sail faster, and hike out rather than just leaning from side to side. But for my shakedown cruise today, facing forward the whole time and steering with one hand behind my back worked fine, and sitting straight up in a padded seat with a back is certainly more comfortable for me than sitting hunched over in a shallow cockpit.

Alas I am not currently equipped to take pictures or shoot video while on the water. Maybe next season! There will be plenty of chances, since this is now officially my primary boat from the hull down, and next season I will start putting variant rigging on it, like the lateen+plus-jib which is my current favorite rig for the canoe. That will require a second crossbar forward of the mast, to carry the bowsprit, and a taller mast, to carry the jib:
DSC04836.JPG

DSC04850.JPG
 
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beldar boathead

Well-Known Member
I am glad that worked out well. Regarding the drag from the outrigger, as you said "going 4 mph on a broad reach with the downwind outrigger totally submerged, the boat still sailed straight and responded well to the rudder" , 4 mph is about the speed a person walks at, so you were not going so fast that the drag had an impact. I think if you want to go more upwind and want to go faster, the drag will kick in - but who knows!
 
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bhm

Member
I am glad that worked out well. Regarding the drag from the outrigger, as you said "going 4 mph on a broad reach with the downwind outrigger totally submerged, the boat still sailed straight and responded well to the rudder" , 4 mph is about the speed a person walks at, so you were not going so fast that the drag had an impact. I think if you want to go more upwind and want to go faster, the drag will kick in - but who knows!
Could be. But another reason why this might be OK occurred to me while I was thinking about what you said, namely that trimarans seem to sail OK with a rudder only on the center hull, and this Mini with outriggers is just a tiny trimaran. Or it would become that, if I lowered the outriggers so as to always have at least two hulls in the water all the time, like trimarans do. I looked at some pictures of small trimarans in this overview Report on Nine Small Folding Trimarans , and they don't seem to have any more rudder area per size of boat than I have here. And when heeling they have only one outrigger in the water, just like I do, and are steering just with their center-hull rudder, like I am.

Also I'm sure your answer to my original question about the boom rigging must be right. I simply have not been (and maybe never will be) sailing in winds strong enough, or with a sail big enough, that I would need that extra mechanical advantage of the sheet hauling from the end of the boom.
 
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bhm

Member
What lake are you sailing on?
Cayuga Lake, south end, near Ithaca NY.

I like the jib. Did you include this on the Minifish? Have you considered a spinnaker?
Thanks. This lateen-plus-jib will be the next thing I try on the Minifish, but only after I get more experience sailing it with just the STG/Snark sail, at higher speeds and farther out in the lake. Since that for sure is the next step, I'll go ahead and do the additional modifications necessary for that over the winter. That means a second crossbar near the mast, that will carry the bowsprit, and also will let me move the outriggers forward, to make paddling easier; and also an extension of the Minifish mast, since the jib needs a 12-foot mast.

I like the separate jib because it lets me shorten sail by hauling in the jib if the wind kicks up too strongly, in contrast with the single big Minifish or Sunfish sail which is an all-or-nothing proposition. Also its just more fun to sail with two sails that you can trim separately, and in very low wind you can go 'wing and wing' as its called, where you pole out the jib on one side and the main on the other. It's just fun to imitate on a very small boat some of the classic rigs and sailing techiques from bigger boats that you read about in sailing books.

That's also why I put a Bermuda sloop rig on my kayak, but this has too low a freeboard for the big lake and is in danger of getting swamped by waves. Probably I'll eventually try this rig on the Mini also, but not until I work out a Gunther rig so I can take down the sleeved Laser mainsail on the water.
DSC04660c.jpg

I do have a spinnaker also, but I've never had a chance to use it because not until now did I have a boat that could sail upwind far enough that I could sail straight downwind for a decent amount of time on the way back. The wind on Cayuga Lake always blows north or south, and with my canoe I was always just sailing across this wind to the far side of the lake and back, never straight downwind, hence no occasion to use the spinnaker.
 
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wjejr

Active Member
Also I'm sure your answer to my original question about the boom rigging must be right. I simply have not been (and maybe never will be) sailing in winds strong enough, or with a sail big enough, that I would need that extra mechanical advantage of the sheet hauling from the end of the boom.
[/QUOTE]

Hi bhm.

On the rigging of the boom. One of the reasons that Sunfish & Minifish are rigged with one end attached to the traveler is that it distributes the sail load between the middle of the boom and the end). This allowed the designers to us a lighter gauge spar on a lateen rig that has an extremely long boom relative to sail area. Having the attachment only in the middle of the boom will cause undo stress, which the spar was not designed for, and over time will likely bend or outright break the boom. This is especially true if it happens to blow a little harder than the light air the forecast originally called for.

Good luck!
 

bhm

Member
On the rigging of the boom. One of the reasons that Sunfish & Minifish are rigged with one end attached to the traveler is that it distributes the sail load between the middle of the boom and the end). This allowed the designers to us a lighter gauge spar on a lateen rig that has an extremely long boom relative to sail area. Having the attachment only in the middle of the boom will cause undo stress, which the spar was not designed for, and over time will likely bend or outright break the boom. This is especially true if it happens to blow a little harder than the light air the forecast originally called for.

Good luck!
Thanks. That makes sense, especially for a boat intended to sail in strong winds. For me, canoe-sailing so far in nothing higher than 10-12 mph winds, I think this simply hasn't been an issue. When the wind suddenly gets unexpectedly strong (which has happened a couple of times) I always just drop all sail and paddle to shore, and for at least the time being I will be sailing this Minifish that same way. That's why I replaced that weird halyard-through-the-plastic-mast-cap thing on the Minifish mast by a proper pulley, to make it easier to drop the sail on the water and paddle home.
 
I was at Gimmee Coffee yesterday as well as the Ithaca Bakery.

I'd love to see that kayak....but there are 2" of snow on my lawn here on Onondaga Hill. Season is officially over...but I did get my Hornbeck in Caz Lake Sunday for a paddle.

I just purchased an old Grumman w.complete sailing rig this year on my way back from Star Lake...loads of fun...but yes different animal compared to my new to me as yet unsailed Sunfish.

Stick around...as you can see a bunch of nice people here!! Your tinkering is fascinating....I'm sure the "purists" enjoy it too!!!
 

L&VW

Well-Known Member
That's why I replaced that weird halyard-through-the-plastic-mast-cap thing on the Minifish mast by a proper pulley, to make it easier to drop the sail on the water and paddle home.
Check those plastic mast caps for wear. :oops:

When those caps reach the end of their life cycle, the halyard starts to fray across the aluminum mast's metal edges. :(

Raising the sail (especially) requires more effort. :confused:
 

bhm

Member
4 mph is about the speed a person walks at, so you were not going so fast that the drag had an impact. I think if you want to go more upwind and want to go faster, the drag will kick in - but who knows!
How fast does a Sunfish go? In the world I started sailing in this June, of recreational sailing with the 45 sq foot Snark/STG sail on the displacement hull of a kayak, canoe, Snark or inflatable, 4-5 mph in a 10-12 mph wind seems to be about as fast as people normally sail, unless they get accidentally caught in a stronger wind, and then they are just holding on for dear life and trying to make shore without capsizing. (On the STG website someone tells a story like this about going crazy fast in high wind in a Snark when they were only going 4.5 mph: SailboatsToGo»Giant 66 SF Sail and Spars and Mast Slide). How fast might my new Minifish have gone on my test sail in 10 mph wind, if I had put on its standard 65 sq foot sail and rigging?
 

bhm

Member
I'd love to see that kayak....but there are 2" of snow on my lawn here on Onondaga Hill. Season is officially over...but I did get my Hornbeck in Caz Lake Sunday for a paddle.

I just purchased an old Grumman w.complete sailing rig this year on my way back from Star Lake...loads of fun...but yes different animal compared to my new to me as yet unsailed Sunfish.
Actually, our digital paths have crossed twice before. I came to this site on Sep. 10 looking for information on canoe sailing, and the site search function directed me to your Aug. 31 thread about your search for the missing bits of your roadside Grumman sailing canoe: Newbie. In the course of that discussion you recommended the Skinny Hull group on Facebook, and since then I've been active in the various small-boat-sailing groups there, but not here since I didn't have a Laser or a Sunfish which this group seems to be primarily focused on. We had an exchange in that group also, regarding steering with ropes on Grumman-made aluminum vehicles, until you went dark there about your canoe. The one thing I took away from that first brief exchange here on Sep. 10-12 was the statement by L&VW that centerboard-tiller boats point better than leeboard canoes, and that's why I now have this Minifish daggerboard hull, to test that. But I will still be playing with different rigs because I enjoy doing that, and because I still remain skittish about going out with one gigantic sail that you can't reef and can't easily drop, on a boat that you can't paddle very well for very far.

However, that Bermuda sloop rig on my kayak is now just parts and pieces in my garage, and will not exist again until next season, when I will certainly be putting some version of it on the Minifish hull, but only after I try the lateen-plus-jib first. The problem with the Bermuda rig is that the Laser mainsail sleeves onto the mast, so you can't take it down on the water without unstepping the whole mast, as I had to do one time but don't want to do again. So the next time I build that Bermuda rig I plan to make a Gunther hoist for the mainmast, like you have on your Grumman, so I can take down the mainsail with a halyard.
 

L&VW

Well-Known Member
My second trial with leeboards—factory-equipped on a 17-foot, aluminum-framed, Folbot kayak. (My other Folbot kayak has a wooden frame).

This is also the only picture that displays my slip-resistant leather sailing apparel. ;)

Fullscreen capture 7202019 44156 AM.jpg
 

bhm

Member
Having the attachment only in the middle of the boom will cause undo stress, which the spar was not designed for, and over time will likely bend or outright break the boom. This is especially true if it happens to blow a little harder than the light air the forecast originally called for.

Good luck!
Could well be true. On the other hand I recently saw a Facebook post from someone who has been sailing with this same STG/Snark sail on these same skinny spars with the sheet rigged in the middle of the boom this way for over 20 years. She was one of the earliest STG customers, when Jim Luckett was using sails originally made for a firm called 'Sea Eagle' that had gone out of business, before he started having his own STG-brand sails made. The skinny Snark boom doesn't appear to have become bent, even over these many years. I noticed this post because I've heard that nylon sails are supposed to lose their shape and become unusable over time, and I was surprised that this sail had lasted so long.

241566216_547826616269028_6640722482250225948_n.jpg
 
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chris williams

Active Member
The postings over the years on this site seem to indicate a 9-11 knot max for a Sunfish. I should bring a GPS sometime. The attached pic of me is going downwind this summer in a steady 20 kts with slightly higher gusts. I was moving plenty quick. Would have gone even faster on a reach but the course was a windward/leeward. 55AE6E33-C949-4D8A-B718-AE3265EAE8A6.jpeg
 

bhm

Member
The postings over the years on this site seem to indicate a 9-11 knot max for a Sunfish. I should bring a GPS sometime. The attached pic of me is going downwind this summer in a steady 20 kts with slightly higher gusts. I was moving plenty quick. Would have gone even faster on a reach but the course was a windward/leeward. View attachment 49032
Thanks. Now that GPS is so universal I was expecting everybody to know very precisely what their sailing speeds are. I am using this very handy little self-contained real-time GPS speedometer that comes with rubber bands so you can mount it on your mast (even though it was intended for bicycles). The battery recharges through a USB cable: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07TJPDJMT?psc=1&ref=ppx_yo2_dt_b_product_details

Is reaching generally faster than going straight downwind? I would have expected downwind to be faster, just because you are catching more of the wind, and not getting resistance from your daggerboard, and are going in the same direction as the waves. And on my one test cruise in 10 mph wind with this Minifish daggerboard hull, I registered 4 mph on a reach and 5.2 mph going straight downwind. So is it a roughly valid rule of thumb that your top sailing speed is roughly half of the wind speed? In this You-tube video of a Laser briefly hitting 19 mph they say that the wind was gusting to 40 mph:
But I'm not an experienced enough sailor to be able to tell from the video whether he is going straight downwind or not.

Also, going back to my original question about the Sunfish mainsheet rigging: in this picture, are you using what I guess is the standard Sunfish rigging, where the sheet goes from your hand to the center pulley in the boom, then the end pulley, then back to the traveler at the stern? If so, then based on how far out your sail extends in this picture, it seems as if you must have a longer sheet line than the one that came with my Minifish.
 

Wavedancer

Upside down?
Staff member
Reaching is faster than running because one wants flow over the sail.

With respect to the sheet: It's tied to the traveler/bridle then passed through two little blocks on the boom, and finally a (ratchet) block that is attached to the deck.
The block on the deck is not necessary, but very helpful. In the past people would use a hook instead. I don't think current Sunfishes still have a hook installed.

PS: The new boats used at the Worlds all had a block on the deck.

PS#2: the Laser in the video had a Radial rig. A bigger (highly skilled) sailor in a full rig Laser could have gone faster (maybe).
 

bhm

Member
Reaching is faster than running because one wants flow over the sail.

With respect to the sheet: It's tied to the traveler/bridle then passed through two little blocks on the boom, and finally a (ratchet) block that is attached to the deck.
The block on the deck is not necessary, but very helpful. In the past people would use a hook instead. I don't think current Sunfishes still have a hook installed.

PS: The new boats used at the Worlds all had a block on the deck.

PS#2: the Laser in the video had a Radial rig. A bigger person in a full rig Laser could have gone faster.
Thanks. My 1973 Minifish has a hook in the front of the cockpit, which I guess is what you are referring to. So when I eventually try the full-size sail with the standard rig as you describe it, I'll also use that hook, or maybe mount another pulley on my crossbar to run the sheet through for additional mechanical advantage. That's one nice feature of having the STG crossbar in place, i.e. that I can attach cleats and pulleys and other random gear to it, without having to worry about drilling the deck. But I don't think I would want to use any kind of ratchet at this point, since I am still wary of "cleating the sheet" as increasing the risk of capsizing, even with my outriggers in place.

Does "radial rig" for the Laser just mean the 4.7 sq meter sail with radial stitching, or is that sail also rigged in some different way than the two larger Laser sails? I used the 4.7 sq meter Laser sail as the mainsail for the Bermuda sloop rig I put on my kayak, just because it was the cheapest right-triangle sail I could find on-line ($135 for a non-class-legal version from Vela Sailing), but I never tried to understand the hella-complex Laser rigging itself.
 

Wavedancer

Upside down?
Staff member
Response to bhm:
The 4.7 (sail) is the smallest Laser/ILCA rig. It was originally meant for sailors 'graduating' from Optis.
The Radial rig is the next one in size and then we have the full rig.
A few years ago, the class introduced the Mark II sail for the full rigs; it's built as a radial. Supposedly, it will hold its shape longer compared to the original sail.
There are quite a few Sunfish sailors who are comfortable in a Radial Laser/ILCA. For the full rig Laser/ILCA, the optimum weight is around 180 lbs.
 

L&VW

Well-Known Member
When the wind suddenly gets unexpectedly strong (which has happened a couple of times) I always just drop all sail and paddle to shore, and for at least the time being I will be sailing this Minifish that same way. That's why I replaced that weird halyard-through-the-plastic-mast-cap thing on the Minifish mast by a proper pulley, to make it easier to drop the sail on the water and paddle home.
Trees at my shoreline have branches that interfere with the sail, so I must drop the sail before raising the daggerboard.

One fix—which has worked well—was to add a cam cleat to the deck. It's within easy reach, and controls the sail whether departing or arriving at my destination. Even if I misjudge my arrival speed, I can raise the sail again before things become unmanageable.

A view (looking forward) appears below.

Fullscreen capture 832017 70017 PM.bmp.jpg
 

bhm

Member
Trees at my shoreline have branches that interfere with the sail, so I must drop the sail before raising the daggerboard.

One fix—which has worked well—was to add a cam cleat to the deck. It's within easy reach, and controls the sail whether departing or arriving at my destination. Even if I misjudge my arrival speed, I can raise the sail again before things become unmanageable.

A view (looking forward) appears below.

View attachment 49036
Thanks. Yes, I will probably have a version of this whenever I next sail this boat, except that the cam cleat will be on my crossbar in front of the cockpit instead of on the deck.

I only heard about cam cleats recently; at first I was doing everything with horn cleats, just because I knew how they worked from tying flags on flagpoles, and I thought that was what a cleat was. Except I won't run the halyard through a paddle handle. I'm guessing this is just a convenient way of securing the paddle to the boat, and makes sense because you don't expect to need the paddle while the sail is up? In my case, my crossbar will have horn as well as cam cleats on it, so I have lots of other places to tie gear within reach of the cockpit. And also I may want to use a paddle even when the sail is up, like for example to re-orient the boat when I get stuck pointed into the wind while trying to come about (which I'm used to doing with the steering oar), or to reach out and snag the tiller handle when I lose my grip on it, both of which happened a couple of times on my shakedown cruise with this boat.
 

Sailflow

Active Member
You were mentioning going into irons. You will do better with the minifish as it can point higher but it also has to do with boat speed and speed of your of tack. The outriggers make the boat wide for stability but also make if slow to turn.

Below is a good video on roll tacking which gets you quickly through head to wind and on to the other tack.

 

bhm

Member
You were mentioning going into irons. You will do better with the minifish as it can point higher but it also has to do with boat speed and speed of your of tack. The outriggers make the boat wide for stability but also make if slow to turn.

Below is a good video on roll tacking which gets you quickly through head to wind and on to the other tack.

Thanks. I may try that next season. But right now that technique seems to be several steps too advanced for me, since so far I have never even sailed sitting sideways rather than forwards, let alone sailing fast into the wind while hiking out over the gunwhale to keep the boat level, both of which seem to be prerequisites for this fast-tacking technique. In my sailing canoe the only weight adjustments I can do are sliding or leaning from side to side while still facing forward, and in my one test cruise with the Minifish I also sailed it that way.

So I have to learn how to do those things first. But also for me it may not be worth the trouble. Right now when I sail across the lake and back I'm on the same tack the whole way, since the wind generally blows lengthwise along the lake. So for this kind of sailing I only have to come about once on the whole trip, and it's not much of a loss of time to come to a dead stop to do that, and hike the boat around to the other tack with a paddle, to start the return trip. But that could change if the greater upwind ability of the Minifish enables me to spend more time cruising along the shore upwind on the far side of the lake, where I would need to do lots of short tacks. I did that for the very first time in my test-cruise with the Minifish, since I had to stay near the shore for safety due to the cold weather. I could never do that with my canoe since it didn't point high enough, and when I tried I would usually lose whatever upwind progress I made during a short tack while I was coming about. All I could do was sail across the lake and back on a long tack, pointing as high into the wind as I could on both legs of the trip, and with luck get back to my launch point without having been blown downwind during the trip.
 
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