Some people in the know claim the sunfish sail boat is the most popular sail boat ever produced. It is true it has a large following among the wet and wild and even younger crowd. In fact, it owes it’s very existence to two high school buddies more interested in paddle boards than sail boats. It began in the 1950s as a paddle board to help save lives, had a sail stuck to the surface board and became the beginnings of what we now know as the sunfish sail boat.
Changes took place when the paddle board became a sail boat. The mahogany plywood was replaced with fiberglass and the sails redesigned. Nevertheless, the sunfish sail boat still has that cocky look. It is, after all, a dinghy and a dinghy with much to recommend it.
The sunfish sail boat is designed with one person in mind. It can be and is easily sailed by one person. It’s length and weight make sure one person can haul, carry and launch without muss or real fuss. It’s length -13 ft 9 in (4.2 m) and weight -130 lb (59 kg) permit easy storage and transporting. The sail arrangement also helps in the process. The lateen sail, attached to the spars, can be easily cached by either rolling the sail up parallel to the spars or wrapping it around the spars. The sunfish sail boat can then be efficiently placed in a luggage rack or on a light trailer and carted to the next race or outing.
The Sunfish sail boat is not a carrier or cruiser. It is a racer. It is seen participating in racing events every year, world wide. Yet, it is also a day tripper carrying up to three small people. However, you have to not mind getting a little wet going to and from your destination and, when tacking, learn to duck beneath the boom.
This does not mean you have to worry about swamping. The sunfish sail boat with it’s self bailing cockpit is designed to avoid just that. It also features a few other simple design features that facilitate single-handed sailing. Two lines are all that are really needed to sail the sunfish sail boat: the halyard and the sheet. As for control there is the tiller. If you wish to race it, there are additional features obtainable to increase speed and agility.
Low cost, simplistic in design, easy to handle alone, portable it is no wonder the Sunfish sail boat is popular, imitated and sit’s in the American Sailboat Hall Fame.