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

Thread starter #1
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.
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.
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.


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:.
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....
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.


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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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
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.
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.