Wind speed question

Thread starter #1
I am new to sunfish sailing and have been reading a lot and getting out on the boat as often as possible. I sail a lake in NH and have noticed that things get really interesting when wind speed goes above the point where whitecaps form. Does anyone know what that wind speed is in terms of knots? I want to try making some gooseneck adjustments but dont have a feel for the numbers.


Well-Known Member
"...I sail a lake in NH and have noticed that things get really interesting when wind speed goes above the point where whitecaps form..."
I sail on a small part of the 72 square miles of Lake Winnipesaukee, New Hampshire. :) I'll get my "suggested" gooseneck numbers in tomorrow's daylight. If your sail has a window, you might prefer different numbers. I keep the tack high, because in strong winds, it can catch a wave, and over you go! :confused: Other NH lakes are shallower and the water is warmer—you get to make different tries more often! :p

Winds of 7-10 knots (about 12-MPH) produce scattered whitecaps in my mostly-protected locale. That's when I drop everything to go sailing. (Although I'll go out in "no-wind" conditions to go find some ;) ).

Winds here seldom change rapidly in direction, but to be cautious, I sail upwind every time out. While out, the winds can change their velocity either way, but I can hug a lee shore for protection. Although the term's not found on Beaufort's Scale, should the wind pick up to "ridiculous-crazy", first I find a shallow beach to wait it out, but after "enough time"—or sunset looms :confused: —I've lowered the sail and use what large sailboats call a "bare-pole" to get home. On the right shore, I could "walk" the Sunfish home. :cool:

On the other hand, while "walking", I had a racing Sunfish sail tear along both spars, and the mast break 18" above the deck when the entire surface was hit by a "cell"—no waves could be discerned—only the water's surface entirely white with driven spray. 'Course, with the relatively "short fetch" of NH's largest lake, waves don't get a chance to build like ocean waves will.

Your lake, if bordered by NH's usual 100'+ tall trees, may offer protection against "over-strong" winds.

Hope my numbers (when I get them) can help.


beldar boathead

Well-Known Member
Hi, here is a guide to rigging Sunfish for racing

The gooseneck locations are spot-on, as they should be as the author has won 7 or 8 Sunfish Worlds. Keep in mind that those settings assume that you will have the halyard set as mentioned in the guide. If your sail does not have a window, you will not be able to see where you are going with the recommended halyard location, so you will have to put the sail up higher. If you have the sail up higher, the gooseneck needs to start out further back than in the guide by a couple inches.



Well-Known Member
My suggested "New Hampshire lakes setting" for the gooseneck is 17 inches from the round tip of the boom to the parting line (casting centerline) of the gooseneck.

Though in the past, I have had it set higher (further from the clew), this 17" has worked well for me as a recreational sailor. The halyard attachment is up to you—and whether you have a window or not. I'd keep the tack high and out of the water at all times; otherwise, the water's surface takes your mainsheet control away—the strong wind will take over—and you'll get wet. (No big deal, getting wet, but important in May and June).


On the Water
What lake do you sail on on NH? There may some privately owned weather stations near you that you can access via the internet. It's easier to guess wind speed based on wave height if you have a reference point.
Thread starter #7
So far just sailing Province Lake in East Wakefield. Good idea about the private weather stations. I used the Wunderstation app and found no stations right on that lake, but there was one a few miles away on another nearby lake. Let me know if there is a better way of locating stations.

The anemometer would be ideal but I made a solemn vow not to spend any more on the boat this season. Maybe next season.

Regarding the sail, its a new Intensity sail with a window and the gooseneck sits about 6" above the deck. The visibility is good but I have dipped the boom end a few times on windy days. Will try the 17" setting and raise the sail a few more inches this weekend.

Thanks to everyone for the great advice. This is a very helpful and interesting forum.