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Too heavy for Sunfish?

Osbormic0

New Member
Hello y’all,

I’m 6’5” and nearly 300lbs, wanting to get into sailing for cheap. I can find sunfish all day in my price range but I’m having trouble finding a weight capacity. Does anyone have experience sailing as a larger man?

Thanks
 

L&VW

Well-Known Member
There are a few of us here over 200 pounds. The only issues seem to be getting back on board after a capsize, with emphases on upper body strength and one's age.

.
 

George_NJ

New Member
258 LBs here with two spinal fusion surgeries and I had no problem getting on, sailing, getting tossed over and then pulling myself back up into it. I had one of my two sons (135 Lbs) with me each time out so far too.
As far as the weight capacity for the Sunfish, I think it is around 500LB or three passengers.s-l1600 (8).jpg
 

pkpdjh

New Member
The Sunfish is fairly forgiving for skipper weight. For racing, the optimum is about 5'11" at 170 lbs. I am 5' 9" at 200 lbs and do just fine for a 75 year old racer.

Alan Glos
Cazenovia, NY
Hey George, I am about 5'11, 220lbs and have just started racing my Sunfish. Do you have any tips for someone in the 200lbs+ category. I am particularly curious about seating position, halyard position, and any other rigging ideas. Thanks.
 

bigken

New Member
I'm a new old guy here, and not in the best of health. I'm looking for suggestions on the better ways to climb back in after a dunking, capsize. 40 years ago I had no problem, that's not so true now. Thanks all.
 

Sailflow

Active Member
I would make sure I have a good PFD. Make sure your centerboard has a retraining strap so it doesn't slide out when you capsize. I would then practice righting the boat close to shore before going out. Several members on the board comment that once righted come up from the stern and it will sit lower. A hiking strap also makes it easer and shortens the distance you need to reach from the side. Falling off the boat on the windward side helps.
 

shorefun

Well-Known Member
Its not the weight...

As a 6' 6" person at 215lbs I can say the 2 issues most important to you .

A window in the sail so you see stuff. Sailed mine once without the window, put a window in before I did that again.

You have to be able to flex your body forward and do a squat turn thing fairly quickly at times. So you have to be realistic on your flexiblity.

You have other options if you have time on your side.

In my area, southern NJ, you can find a various boats like the 14' capri to the Hunter 170 in the $1200 to $500 range depending on how much work they may need. You need to be aware of what you need in for titles or registrations for you state for that type of boat. If you are less caring a boat without a title can be found at lower cost.

FWIW, I picked up all of my Sunfish for less then $300 and two of them were just because I got lucky and found the real cheap boat before everyone else and was first person to ask.

I have a Hunter 170 and the plastic hull is a problem. They can be found cheap and if the cracks arent bad are not hard to fix. It has a roller furler jib and a high boom making it a comfortable boat for a tall person.

Anyway, some thoughts outside the box.
 

pkpdjh

New Member
Hey George, I am about 5'11, 220lbs and have just started racing my Sunfish. Do you have any tips for someone in the 200lbs+ category. I am particularly curious about seating position, halyard position, and any other rigging ideas. Thanks.
Sorry, I was supposed to address this to @Alan S. Glos.
 

Wavedancer

Upside down?
Staff member
Hey George, I am about 5'11, 220lbs and have just started racing my Sunfish. Do you have any tips for someone in the 200lbs+ category. I am particularly curious about seating position, halyard position, and any other rigging ideas. Thanks.
Seating position: up front; you won't need to hike much to keep the boat flat
Halyard position: since you are big, tie the halyard lower on the spar than what most others use for racing so you will be able to tack and jibe without getting tangled up with the sheet or hit by the boom.

More in general, just go out there, race, enjoy the competition and have fun. We can't all win!
 

bigken

New Member
I'm thinking a "swim ladder" off the transom would be ideal. I'd prefer it to disappear when I don't need it, and for it to be there when I do. I guess I'm looking for a bit of magic.
I have never been able to choose which side of the boat to exit from, my main concern is getting back on board.
 

AQBill

Active Member
I'm thinking a "swim ladder" off the transom would be ideal. I'd prefer it to disappear when I don't need it, and for it to be there when I do. I guess I'm looking for a bit of magic.
I have never been able to choose which side of the boat to exit from, my main concern is getting back on board.
Dear BigKen,

I would suggest that you spend some time finding a nearby sailing club that sails dinghies as well as small cruisers. I'm sure there will be plenty of folks around willing to provide boats and time to try out and learn. I'm a "sturdily built" sailor myself (5'9" & 190) and like to sail Sunfish and lots of small craft...but I'm past 70 myself and so I'm not immune to aches & pains and taking things slowly. Time spent at sailing clubs will allow you to have friends around to help you get started.

Bill
 

dothedew

New Member
If you need a swim ladder, just having some line in the cockpit tied to the hiking strap tie downs with a bowline at the end might be enough. When you get into the water just grab the line and but your foot through the loop to help get you up. I wouldn't put all your weight on it but in conjunction with your upper body it would probable be just enough to get your torso in.
 

beldar boathead

Well-Known Member
If you need a swim ladder, just having some line in the cockpit tied to the hiking strap tie downs with a bowline at the end might be enough. When you get into the water just grab the line and but your foot through the loop to help get you up. I wouldn't put all your weight on it but in conjunction with your upper body it would probable be just enough to get your torso in.
Honestly this seems dangerous. If your foot slides thru the loop and up your leg and you can’t free it you could get dragged, the boat could flip again and now you are tied to it, etc.
 

Grymbrow

New Member
Some of the amazing, yet extremely lightweight, mature lady sailors at my club rig up something they call a "granny line" (they are all grannies). It's a little trial and error to find the right length, but they tie a small loop that is just big enough for a foot to fit into for a step, and tie the other end to the hole in the dagger board. It's worked pretty well to help my gut get back in mine, too.
 

klemsaba

Member
Some of the amazing, yet extremely lightweight, mature lady sailors at my club rig up something they call a "granny line" (they are all grannies). It's a little trial and error to find the right length, but they tie a small loop that is just big enough for a foot to fit into for a step, and tie the other end to the hole in the dagger board. It's worked pretty well to help my gut get back in mine, too.
I rigged something similar for my wife on her Sunfish and works well.
 

Kim Alix

New Member
If you need a swim ladder, just having some line in the cockpit tied to the hiking strap tie downs with a bowline at the end might be enough. When you get into the water just grab the line and but your foot through the loop to help get you up. I wouldn't put all your weight on it but in conjunction with your upper body it would probable be just enough to get your torso in.
I may try this method. I can't get back into my Sunfish at all. A good deal of time just taking the boat out with no sails, tied to a swim dock, and trying to get in. I gave it 3 shots and was exhausted only accomplishing 1 leg on the deck of the boat. I'm working to increase my leg, arm and core strength but that won't be a quick fix. I'm new to sailing a sunfish so until I get more skill, I'm going to be tipping over a lot :(
 

LVW

Active Member
I would make sure I have a good PFD. Make sure your centerboard has a retraining strap so it doesn't slide out when you capsize. I would then practice righting the boat close to shore before going out. Several members on the board comment that once righted come up from the stern and it will sit lower. A hiking strap also makes it easer and shortens the distance you need to reach from the side. Falling off the boat on the windward side helps.
My sailing venue has become crowded with speedy and oversized powerboats, so I'd velcroed a spare PFD to the forward cleat. The PFD reduced the amount of water coming over the splashguard.

I never used it in any other way, but it could have functioned to augment the PFD I was wearing at the time. Straddling it would have made re-entry much easier.

(Somebody please try it out!) :confused:
 

Kim Alix

New Member
All of these suggestions would make a great video for those of us who are having trouble getting into our boats once righted. Hint, hint! I'm 67 and 140 lbs, 5'4 and I'm going to try the granny strap (though not a granny, who cares!) and the rope with a foot loop on the end. I've tried getting in with no sails, just an empty boat tied to a swim dock. No trouble righting the boat, just climbing in. Anyone tried Rescue Straps? Not sure where I'd secure them... Really glad I found you guys!
 

Kim Alix

New Member
I can't imagine climbing in over the stern but you're the 2nd person to suggest this to me. Wondering if there is a video, I just can't visualize reaching so far, but I'll give it a try probably next week. I've left the club and come home for the weekend. Loving retirement! Please toss out any other ideas you come up with. Thanks a ton!
 

signal charlie

Well-Known Member
Staff member
352 lbs? Wonder what changed? I have an idea, but hopefully someone more familiar with the new construction method/materials can offer facts.
 

LVW

Active Member
If you need a swim ladder, just having some line in the cockpit tied to the hiking strap tie downs with a bowline at the end might be enough. When you get into the water just grab the line and but your foot through the loop to help get you up. I wouldn't put all your weight on it but in conjunction with your upper body it would probable be just enough to get your torso in.
I tried using a loop to support myself today. With 26 bones, 30 ligaments, and a hundred muscles, the loop tried to strangle them all into one tight, painful, space! :eek:

I'd prepare some kind of foot support--maybe run the line through a 5-inch long PVC pipe section or attach it to a flat wood step of some kind. :)
 

shorefun

Well-Known Member
The older Hunter 170 was rated for like 8 people the newer Hunter 18 was rated for like 4 people. Same basic hull design. I believe rules on weight have changed.

Also the newest sunfish do not seem to be built as well. I would worry about heavier people cracking the cockpit sides possibly.
 

LVW

Active Member
Kim Alix does your boat have a hiking strap in the cockpit?
A good start for a hiking strap would be to install a single eyestrap ($2.00) on the forward bulkhead. A small snap on the "Grannie Strap" would assist one's quickly getting back aboard.

For myself, I installed a wooden handle with a 2-foot rope to a small bolt under the port deck. You have to enter on the starboard side, but since it got installed, I haven't capsized! :rolleyes:
 

Kim Alix

New Member
Kim Alix does your boat have a hiking strap in the cockpit?
Yes, I can barely reach it but not get my body in the boat pulling on it. I wondered if I could buy a new hiking strap -- I noticed both ends are sewn together with room enough to run a line through -- and run a line through both of the ends to form a loop and tie one end to the mast or the boat's hiking strap. It would be wider than just using a plain line and maybe wouldn't hurt so much. What do you guys think of that idea?
 

Sailflow

Active Member
Kim Alix everyone has their hiking strap different. Mine is a Zhik hiking strap attached at the front bracket. It then has a shock cord going around the hiking strap about three inches from the front pulling the hiking strap up and going around my rachet and back to the strap and tied. The back of my strap is tied to the loop at the back of the cockpit. The shock cord makes it easier to get your feet under when sailing and it also allows it to be reached easier when I'm in the water as the hiking strap is 4 inches from the top of the deck and can flex to the side when pulled.
 

Kim Alix

New Member
That sounds like a good idea. If you have a chance, could you send a picture? It's hard for me to visualize this method. Thanks so much for your input!
 
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