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Things you would like to see improved upon by the Sunfish boatbuilder for 2008

oompanyc

Member
I thought it would be an interesting idea to come up with a list of improvements that us, the sailors, would like to see improved with the new boats being built by the new owners of the manufacturers. Perhaps, we can draw the attention of the boat manufacturer and get some of these ideas addressed.

Personally, I would like to see them using an eyestrap with a stainless steel ring for the deck fitting eyestrap that the halyard runs through. The cheap plastic one that comes with the boat failed on me this past weekend, costing me a regatta, and this was a totally foreseeable defect in choice of part used, they do use a stainless steel ring on the laser deck fittings. The fitting managed to stay in the deck, but, the plastic broke right off between the 2 screws that secure it there.

Second, I would like to see them put 2 eyestraps in the back of the cockpit (similar to what they do for the laser) to make it easier to utilize an adjustable hiking strap.

Cracking of the gelcoat around the edges of the cockpit seems to be a problem for almost everyone, I think making this area stronger would be a welcomed change as well.

Strengthening the mast step is another issue I have seen floating around. With the Eduardo Cordero rigging methods, it is easy for people to get lots of halyard tension and vang tension, and I don't think the boat builder is fully aware of the tension that people are utilizing on these lines these days. For my 2004 Worlds boat, just after the one year mark, the top deck of the boat began separating from the bottom within the mast step, this had to be a result of the halyard and vang tension, but should not be an issue that sailors need to fix on their own, the boat builder should take into consideration what the top sailors are doing, and address the issues that are arising.

Please join in on this conversation, and help identify areas of concern for the Sunfish sailboats. Thank you for your participation.
 

PMagnani

36474
My biggest concern is the price of a new racing sail. Not sure it fits in this conversation but $400+ is a lot for something that might only last two or three seasons if used with any regularity and effectiveness. Would you buy a washing machine for $400 if you knew it would only last 3 years?!

What do I care anyway...I live in Fleetless Colorado....!
 
I agree with most of what Brian wrote. In terms of the weakness in the mast step and the fittings around it, that was the driving factor that lead me to put a cleat on my mast. I have separated 4 decks from the mast step tube. While it does not excuse the problems, at this point I prefer taking preventative measures. I wonder if the class could encourage the builder to add cleats to the mast. It might also help with the very visible bowing effect seen on masts that is caused by halyard tension.

In terms of fittings, I have also seen several VERY new boats (2006/2007) where the halyard bull horn clear on the deck is corroding and/or rusting. The boats have only been in salt water a few days, so that leads me to believe the problem must be rust or something similar.
 

sailorf2

New Member
In regards to the amount of tension that is on the eyestrap when the sail is up, you can put on a mast cleat. Ever since I got one it seems like I don't have a whole lot of tension on the eyestrap or the deck cleat.

I personally like the sunfish the way that it is. I find right now that the sunfish is a very competitive boat the way that it is. Changing things is only going to make it more expensive for everyone. Either you are going to have to upgrade your boat, or someone getting into it will have to spend even more upgrading their boat to make it competitive.

The only thing that I would like to see I guess, would be a longer mast sleeve. I have seen and heard of a few masts that are still bending with the sleeve in it.
 

Wavedancer

Upside down?
Staff member
Go back to the prior version of the daggerboard; the one with the open handle. I will even sign a release form to take the blame if I cut off my finger :eek:.
 

David1st

New Member
I would like to see a clam cleat aft of the splash guard for a quick release of vang tension, when the air goes dead or visa versa!!! I know this isn't legal, but I put one in for my local racing!!! It was a big improvment and a safty issue I think when winds pick up one needs to be able to vang down from the where one is sitting!!! Dick Tillmans method is a bit complicated but legal!!! I couldn't get it to work for me consistantly, a clam cleat adds that reliablity factor!!!
 
I'm with Wavedancer.....give us back the daggerboard handle I think the chopped off finger story is BS. Who was it? Does anybody know if this story is real? Just make the daggerboard stopper solid.

The spar end caps have always seemed really cheesy. I have broken them before and wonder when they will get me again. A hole through the endcap would probably do better.

Good thread....
 

blueberry

member
Why not install factory inspection ports? Sooner or later we need to install them to keep the boat dry and light.
 

adavid

Member
I think that this is a great thread. I believe that we are losing people from the class...or maybe not getting them in...because of some of the structural issues with the boat. And I am not sure if Vanguard understands that these are problems. Are people sending their boats back for warranty work? There is a 2 year warranty on the boats.

I have had (2) 2005 boats and a 2007 boat. The first 2005 boat was prought back to the factory right away, as the transom was not at the correct angle. Looked like the boat had been damaged at the factory. My 2nd 2005 boat when back to the factory 4 times for warranty work, and then they gave me a new boat (2007). The 2007 boat has already been back for work. The issues were as follows, many of which Brian mentioned.

Cockpit lip cracking
Cockpit cracks above storage compartment
Mast step separating
Deck separating from hull in bow
Cracked gelcoat due to fiberglass voids below waterline - leaking

If there was another boat that fit me well and had good competition in my area, I probably would have gotten out of the class after the problems with my first boat.

There are improvements that can be made that do not change the competitiveness of old boats, just increase the durability of the new boats.
 

est8466

Eric Tucker
I would have to agree with everything stated in this thread. I purchased a 2006 at the end of the summer of 2005. I had no problems until I sailed the boat in heavier air on Rehoboth Bay. After two weeks of sailing in chop and wind my mast step cracked and the boat was taking on water. I am an occaisional racer and while I do rig a vang it is hardly so much tension that it should cause my mast step to fail.

I returned the boat to the dealer and they replaced my hull with a 2007 and I am keeping my fingers crossed!

It seems that Vanguard should address these issues based on the information provided by warranty work and replaced hulls. The boats should come from the factory with mast cleats intstalled, inspection ports, reinforced cockpit lips and reinforced mast steps.

I wonder if they have these problems with Lasers?

I must admit with all of the problems I still love the quirky Sunfish and will always remain loyal to the class.
 

mike4947

Member
Lasers have their own set of problems.
Also this isn't the first or even the second time there has been structural problems with fresh from the factory Sunfish boats.
The first time was in the late 60's early 70's when the factory output could not keep up with the demand and quite a few boats were built by subcontracters and they skimped on cloth/resin or simply did not follow ALcort/AMF standards and boats had cracks on the decks, mast cup breaking, you name it.
The again in the late 80's until '91 the Pearson boats were noted for their lack of quality control. While standard weight for a Sunfish bare hull has been 130 pounds from the beginning of fiberglass production in the early 60's/late 50's some of Pearsons boats came out quite a bit less.
I owned one of the last boat they produced before SLI took over production, and it fact it was destined to be a "world boat" but the dealers "raided" the factory so they would have some to sell before SLI started up production in late July when the demand would have been low.
It was weighed at least a dozen times and always came in at 108 -109 pounds. I got lucky in that the mast step never had problems and I had few leaks becasue I babied the boat. Most in that era had more than average problems with cracking, leaks, etc.
 

jlosail

Judy Lazo
I just bought a new Sunfish and gave the new owner of my old boat the new daggerboard. I like the old one with the handle. Yes, the story about the finger is true. I remember it happening a few years ago, but I still like the old board.

As for being a woman racing these boats I think that the more things you are allowed to change on the boat the less one design it becomes. I think subtle changes that the manufacturer does to improve the durability of the boat can only help. I've never had any of the problems mentioned with the deck or mast step.

We all get the rail dinged up so fixing that flaw would be a plus. I think they should move the plate on the forward part of the hiking strap and move it up toward the ratchet block.

I've been racing since the 80's and pretty much I like the design of the boat.

Paul, the cost of the sail is always going to be a factor and I can't see the manufacturer lowering that. I like to buy a new sail every season.

So how are thngs in Colorado? Judy
 
I've just read in July's edition of Dinghy Sailing Magazine that Vanguard have just merged with Performance Sailcraft Europe ...... Not really sure if it's relevant to this thread , but it's a small world.
 

Gail

24186
Well, an Opti sail is $500 a crack, Lasers more. Try to look at it from the dealer's perspective. A really active dealer might sell 40 sails in a season. IF they're making even $50 per sail, that's not going to keep the lights on. The sails are made of quality cloth. Yes, assembled in Sri Lanka, but then there's shipping, distribution, inventory control, storage, advertising, employee benefits, labor, and other miscellaneous costs. It's not just the sail, it's a product.

What other one-design can you buy a new sail for and be competitive for $400?
 

sailorf2

New Member
Well, an Opti sail is $500 a crack, Lasers more. Try to look at it from the dealer's perspective. A really active dealer might sell 40 sails in a season. IF they're making even $50 per sail, that's not going to keep the lights on. The sails are made of quality cloth. Yes, assembled in Sri Lanka, but then there's shipping, distribution, inventory control, storage, advertising, employee benefits, labor, and other miscellaneous costs. It's not just the sail, it's a product.

What other one-design can you buy a new sail for and be competitive for $400?
I agree with Gail. We just got a thistle, and I look what it would cost for new sails on that. A the spinnaker alone is I believe $800-900, the jib was like $500, and the main was I think a little more then $1000. I have looked at other one design class sails, and the sunfish is the cheapest that I have found. From my experience it is a quality sail too.
 
The boat needs a decent bailer. If you take on a big wave, the current one doesn't work going to weather. I've broken four of the rudder cheek pieces, two in very minor light air collisions and two in normal sailing. They could be beefed up at negligible cost. Also, its ridiculous that we can't get just the cheek piece instead of having to buy the whole assembly at $58. I bent one of the sleeved masts. They could use a stronger alloy. The deck cleat on my 2006 boat is already corroded. I'd like to see the board made from fiberglass, like the rudder. The current boards dent too easily.
 

leejmontes

New Member
Love the Sunfish- But I have problems with my 2007 Charleston Worlds Boat. 1. I ruined my new halyard, because the mast cap was a bit too small exposing the metal edge of the mast (MAKE SURE THEY FIT PROPERLY) 2. Deck Cleat paint is coming off (QUALITY CONTROL LACKING?) 3. Daggerboard gel coat is severly cracked exposing inside fiberglass 4. Gel coat chip about .5 inches long in between the seating areas (textured part around the cockpit. (exposing fibergalss) 5. mast step paint is worn exposing a fiberglass void (potential for leaking) PUT A METAL PLATE DOWN IN THERE 6. Mast leaks and I am sure I cannot get all the salt water out completely 7. Ruddercheek is broken/cracked (my fourth one in about four years) MAKE THEM STRONGER or METAL 8. my boat is very slow as I could not seem to pass PJ PAtin, Malcom Smith, Eduardo Cordero and Brian McGinnis this weekend... Note: i had two other Fish and this seems to have more problems than the others.. It seems like I have to get my boat fixed in the middle of a busy summer????

Lee Montes #2

See you in Sayville for the NY Downstate regionals-- July 14-15
 

Susan Mallows

New Member
I haven't really had any major problems with my 2001 Sunfish used at least 2ce a week from May to October each year since (granted - I am an inland lake sailor)- I agree the bailer is a very weak link and the cockpit develops stress cracks. The new daggerboard has it's own problems and someone else will have some kind of accident related to it's design; I strongly prefer the design with a handle. I think alot of what people are asking for are individual preferences regarding the way they choose to rig the boat and that it is appropriate for people to continue to set up the boat the way they like it. For example, I never put in inspection ports and the boat is as light as the day I bought it - I actually think inspection ports can contribute to water accumulating in the boat as there are more entry points once they are cut. Also, if people choose to set the rig tension beyond what the boat is manufactured to bear I do not think that is a builder's problem. I wouldn't expect another builder to replace a boat or fix a mold because I set up my sloop at double the designed rig tension because I think it is faster. I would not recommend any drastic changes that would make new boats dissimilar to the older boats or would increase the cost much. One design is one design; more expensive means less people buying new boats.
 

58984 EW

Member
Great stuff! The new manufacturer needs to know that there is a perception out there based on a lot of first-hand experiences that the newer boats are not built as well as the older. Things break too easily, as detailed above.

One suggestion I haven't seen: is there a way to make the bailer less vulnerable to opening when kicked? I can't stand it when in light air I sponge out every drop of water only to find the bailer has opened and the cockpit has a few pounds of water sloshing around. The old screw type was better in this regard. Maybe a notched snap of some kind to hold it in place?

Another strong vote for bringing back the old board! People can get hurt by a rope handle, too: If enough people use it anything there are going to be accidents/malfunctions/strange things happening.
 
I would like to see the rubber centerboard stopper piece improved so it does not come loose and pop off. That is the problem that caused the injury to a sailor's hand, which ultimately caused the most recent change to our centerboard. Now, they have changed the design but did not actually address what caused the problem. This weekend I saw two people with the new boards that had the blue stop pop off while sailing.

The laser class recently approved a rule that allows people to thrubolt that piece. Maybe we should consider doing the same?

It would also be nice if the hiking strap design or front metal fitting were changed so that the metal bar does not cut through the hiking strap and cause it to fail. After cutting through my strap in less than a season, I replaced my hiking strap with a design similar to this:

http://www.sunfishclass.org/tips/hiking_strap_protection.htm

and have never had an issue.

Finally, I would like to see roller cleats installed for the outhaul and cunningham on the spars in the PRO model boat. It would make the sail adjustments a little easier. Most people that do this installation by themselves use this fitting.
 

jlosail

Judy Lazo
I agree that the cheek plates on the rudder should be replaced with metal ones.

I like having an inspection port and don't think water gets in that way if it's properly installed. I used a clear latex caulk around the splash guard to prevent water leaks there.


The sunfish sail has to be the most inexpensive sail out there. My kids sailed Optis and now one has a Laser and those boat's sails are more money. If you want to be competitive you just have to make that investment every year or so.

As for the bailer in additon to kicking it open unintentionally I've had my sheet line catch under the tab and pop it open.

Thanks for the idea with the hiking strap. I don't weigh that much and my strap probably doesn't wear out as fast as others, but I defintely have had to replace mine several times on several boats.

How do we know the new builder is reading these posts?
 

Gail

24186
Because your Class Secretary inquired and has been assured it is monitored from time to time. It won't necessarily be a moment to moment thing, but it is noticed.
 

PMagnani

36474
If nothing else, the new builder should work with IGLOO and upgrade the storage cuddy....

The bailer point is a great one and does often pop open. I usually tape it down and always have a large sponge. It would be great it they could make one that's flush to the bottom like a Laser. The rudder cheeks might be the biggest problem right now. A few mentioned it but know it's a huge problem with them cracking.

Judy - check your meesages...!
 
After reading these posts , the answer seems obvious .....
To ensure that all brand new Sunfish are still in the same condition a year later , this is all the manufacturer has to do before each Sunfish leaves the factory ;

A. Crack the rudder cheeks and then crack the blade for good luck.
B. Smash off the bottom half of the bailer ( Who needs it anyway , it only gets in the way when you drag your 'Fish out of the water ).
C. Immerse all metal parts in salt water for a week to get 'em nice and corroded.
D. Bend the mast a little bit & loosen up that mast step.
E. Drill an extra large hole in the top of the daggerboard , then make a really weak blue stopper , so you can play "Sunfish finger roullete".
F. Supply worn lines , so the owner cannot blame badly fitted parts.
G. Get the fattest employee in the factory to eat a few more pies & cakes while they give the 'Fish a good workout & see how quickly they can tear that hiking strap , crack that gelcoat & give that shiny new hull a few little leaks.

..... I;ve probably forgotten a few things , but it's just a little bit of English humour ;)
 

est8466

Eric Tucker
I forgot to mention in my original reply to this thread that I had a cracked rudder cheek as well. It was replaced under warranty and so far no problems. I noticed today that my club purchased a couple of 2007's and the bow handles are already rusted on them.

This is frustrating in that I sold my 1974 AMF Alcort to buy a new boat and I never had one problem with it-it was a great boat. I find myself trying not to hike out with my feet under the cockpit lip or grab that part of the boat to hoist myself back in after a capsize. Its hard to sail a boat that you worry might fail at some point. I did install a mast cleat in hope of preserving my mast step.

What happend to the indestructible Sunfish?

I guess if Vanguard acknowledges these defects and corrects them it will lead to massive expensive recalls for them. But after spending over 4 grand on a sailboat one expects it to last a while.
 

Coconut

New Member
Wow - being a new owner of a new SF this thread has let the wind out of my sails (pun intended!) quite a bit. Has me thinking what boat I should 'trade up to'. My first day on the water, I grabbed the cockpit lip to pull my self back in from hiking and I heard a very audible 'crack'. I quickly glanced down looking for damage seeing none, I forgot about it. Obviously, my boat demonstrated something prevalent in all newer SF. A closer inspection is in order and a new search for a different one design that is well made - any suggestions ?
 

58984 EW

Member
Wow - being a new owner of a new SF this thread has let the wind out of my sails (pun intended!) quite a bit. Has me thinking what boat I should 'trade up to'. My first day on the water, I grabbed the cockpit lip to pull my self back in from hiking and I heard a very audible 'crack'. I quickly glanced down looking for damage seeing none, I forgot about it. Obviously, my boat demonstrated something prevalent in all newer SF. A closer inspection is in order and a new search for a different one design that is well made - any suggestions ?
I hope you'll try to stick it out, but I'd understand if you didn't. First thing you should do is contact Vanguard and the dealer who sold you the boat. They should make good on a replacement, if there is a problem. I know it doesn't help you much, but the fact that this thread is going and is public is just the kind of thing that could affect change.
 

Wavedancer

Upside down?
Staff member
Although I find this an interesting thread, I miss some sort of perspective once we start complaining about new boats. Vanguard is a company that wants to stay in business and even the best run production lines will have an occasional problem. Assuming that Vanguard builds about one thousand fish a year, it would be good to know the percentage of these boats that have serious flaws (such as the cockpit lip cracking). Regarding this latter problem, I don't think that the designer(s) anticipated the force of 150 lbs (and up) bodies pulling themselves up on that rather thin lip (as during roll tacks). Unfortunately, only Vanguard can give us the statistics that I am after (and they won't be telling, I presume). Talking to a vendor that sells at least 10 boats/year might be informative.

Another fact of life is that Sunfish are made primarily for the leisure market. The racers, who do all these 'weird' things to the boat are a minority of the market. This statement is from a Vanguard person who I met a few years ago at a World championship (there were complaints about the masts at the time). Vanguard has been responsive to certain complaints (e.g., the masts are now being sleeved internally) and the company has fixed flaws under warranty. I am sure that Vanguard does not really want those kinds of repair jobs and that quality control is an important issue for them as well. Now that Vanguard has been taken over, quality control and addressing the other issues that have been described in this thread may change, for better or for worse.

PS: I just tried flexing the cockpit lip on my 2006 fish and it seems pretty strong. But the black paint (or is it anodizing?) on the halyard deck cleat is coming off around the screws;the boat has yet to taste sea water
.
 

beldar boathead

Well-Known Member
A closer inspection is in order and a new search for a different one design that is well made - any suggestions ?
I think it is good we have a forum for this discussion and it should lead to improvements by the builder. I woudl not recommend selling your boat and changing classes due to the cockpit lip. There are a lot of attributes to consider beyond cockpit lips when selecting a boat (such as how it sails, what it costs, etc.) Further, if you want another one design single hander, about the only one that is popular is the Laser, also made by Vanguard, so I am not sure you will be happy with another Vanguard product if this one is not making you happy. One other choice is here: http://www.castlecraft.com/super_snark.htm After you have sailed it, you will likely be pining to get your Sunfish back.

BB:)
 

Moxie

New Member
My recommendation to Vanguard would be to go back to the deck with the aluminum edge around the periphery. The rounded edge on the new Sunfish does not enable you to get a finger hold for righting the boat after tipping - particularly since your hands are wet. Am I wrong here?
 

sailorf2

New Member
My recommendation to Vanguard would be to go back to the deck with the aluminum edge around the periphery. The rounded edge on the new Sunfish does not enable you to get a finger hold for righting the boat after tipping - particularly since your hands are wet. Am I wrong here?
Personally I really like the rounded edges. I really find them more comfortable, and they look a lot better. Plus the rivets would get caught in my wet suit and rip holes in it.
 

Moxie

New Member
My 12 year old sails our '72 on the ocean and occasionally tips it over.
The rounded deck is a poor design in this situation and this rounded design is now closely associated with poor quality (see above). I'm going to take my '55 hull by Alcort, that is solid as a rock, and refit it with new hardware. Sorry about the rivets on your wet suit - never heard this one before.
 

Gail

24186
The lip inside the cockpit is somewhat thin and was previously beefed up by the aluminum rail around the inside. Today's lip is rather thin, and to use it for grabbing to help with a roll was likely not considered when the change to the hull was made. I wonder if the manufacturer will see this issue and consider a change on this flange to improve the situation? Of course, owners could choose to purchase the aluminum from the builder and apply it to their new boats, rivets and all. I have a couple older style boats and I always kept and keep them duct taped ...
 

mike4947

Member
Not having the aluminum around the cockpit opening lip isn't a new thing. At least since 1991 it hasn't been used. Any lip cracking on newer boats would more likely be due to a change in contruction/materials than having the aluminum.
 
How about if the manufacturer made the cockpit stronger by building it without the lip , just like the Minifish was made ..... Plus they could put in a few strategic inspection ports , as they already do on the laser.
 
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