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Buying a Sunfish in a country that doesn't sail them - am I crazy?


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Hi all-

I learned how to sail on Lake George many years ago on a Sunfish and have fond memories of it being easy to rig and sail. I now live in Australia (Queensland) and have gotten into sailing with the local club by taking lessons in Pacers/Herons and crewing during races.

I'd love to go into single-handed sailing, but the boat du jour at our club is a Laser. We really don't have anything in-between: the kids learn on O'Pen Bics and then are expected to go into LaserLand if they want go solo.

I would love it if the club had an in-between boat that's similar to a Laser but doesn't require as much athleticism to sail - ergo, a Sunfish. Unfortunately, they simply do not exist in Australia - Laser never marketed them here and they don't have a class for racing, so any you see are rare as hen's teeth.

Out of sheer luck, I found an inexpensive Sunfish in the country for sale. I tried valiantly to convince my club to consider buying it as an in-between training boat for the kids and even for the adult learn to sail classes, but they weren't moved. They prefer racing and it's all about Lasers, Tasars, and NS14s. :wacko:

Maybe it's a pipe dream, but I'm thinking about buying the boat for myself - it's reasonably priced although would need to be shipped up to me. TBH, the market here for used, fun, cruise-around type boats kind of sucks here. 

Am I crazy to even consider this? Is my nostalgia for Sunfish clouded by a couple of decades of dry land, and it's a crap boat to sail? I see varying opinions on their sailability around here - either you love them or hate them.

Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks!

-KC

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Most of the folks I know that want a single hander that isn't as athletic as a Laser to sail in Aus, tend to grab an Impulse or a Sabre dinghy.  If the sunfish is really cheap though and you like sailing them, just grab it and have some fun.

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If you want to race get a Sabre .

 

If you just want follow your heart and just mess around and cruise , get the Sunfish . 

And I say this as a uk based person who cannot think of any reason why anyone would want to sail a sunfish ever :D

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If the Sunfish meets your need for a less athletic boat than a Laser then go for it.

The Sunfish is a lot of fun to sail and some people would never want to sail anything else.

I say this as a Brit who sailed a Laser in England before moving to the US where I sailed both Sunfish and Lasers for about 15 years, and who now sails an RS Aero.

 

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Agree, if just for fun then why not go with the Sunfish. However, depending on the cost and so on, why not take a look at the Rocket? See the "Fulcrum Rocket" thread. Fulcrum (Dave Clark et. al.) are shipping Rocket's and UFO's around the world.

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Getting the Sunfish is a good idea as long as the large parts - the spars and daggerboard - are in good shape.  Replacement parts would be financially infeasible to get to Australia.  Rudder parts or a sail would be doable without breaking the bank.  Also weigh it to be sure it is 135 or so lbs or less.  If it is a lot more than that, you will have a drying-out project ahead of you.  That may be fine with you, but be aware of it before you buy.

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9 hours ago, Alan Crawford said:

Agree, if just for fun then why not go with the Sunfish. However, depending on the cost and so on, why not take a look at the Rocket? See the "Fulcrum Rocket" thread. Fulcrum (Dave Clark et. al.) are shipping Rocket's and UFO's around the world.

The Sunfish is a 1986 version and inexpensive (would sell for the same price in the U.S.). The rudder/centerboard (or "centreboard" as it's spelled here :D) and spars appear to be in good condition, but I can't tell myself from just pics. Trying to find someone who could inspect it for me, but it's proving difficult ATM. Most inspection companies specialize in motorized watercraft and don't want to waste their time on a sailing dinghy.

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I should also mention that I sent an email to Laser Itnl to suss out any possibility of Sunfish arriving south of the equator. They wrote back and said they're looking into establishing a dealer or distributor here for Lasers in the next year (apparently there isn't one right now) and would consider offering Sunfish since you can cram more in a shipping container than Lasers. :lol:

 

@Alan Crawford, my budget doesn't suit the Rocket, unfortunatley.

11 hours ago, Alan Crawford said:

Agree, if just for fun then why not go with the Sunfish. However, depending on the cost and so on, why not take a look at the Rocket? See the "Fulcrum Rocket" thread. Fulcrum (Dave Clark et. al.) are shipping Rocket's and UFO's around the world.

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Don’t count on them finding someone to become a Laser dealer.  As is documented elsewhere on this forum, Lasers are no longer class legal to race!  ILCAs replaced the Laser.  Laser Performance is trying to establish an “outlaw” class association for Lasers, but it’s not gaining traction.  I doubt anyone in Australia will be interested in selling Lasers, esp since an established ILCA manufacturer is located in Australia.   

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9 hours ago, KCfromDC said:

I should also mention that I sent an email to Laser Itnl to suss out any possibility of Sunfish arriving south of the equator. They wrote back and said they're looking into establishing a dealer or distributor here for Lasers in the next year (apparently there isn't one right now) and would consider offering Sunfish since you can cram more in a shipping container than Lasers. :lol:

 

@Alan Crawford, my budget doesn't suit the Rocket, unfortunatley.

If your budget doesn't suit the Rocket, it definitely won't suit a new Sunfish from LP.  A new Rocket is 10% cheaper.

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8 hours ago, KCfromDC said:

I'm looking at a used one (as stated in my original post. :P)

From this statement, I assumed you were also considering a new one:
"I should also mention that I sent an email to Laser Itnl to suss out any possibility of Sunfish arriving south of the equator."

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For me I could sail either. But it is true that the Sunfish is generally easier to loaf in. It is also better behaved downwind in waves in my experience. But it's a water toy. I don't mind swimming. (I sail a canoe. That says it all). Confession: I've sailed lasers 1000 times or more more than a sunfish and I hadnt sailed a fish in decades until this year when we got an old one.

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12 hours ago, Dillon Waltner said:

From this statement, I assumed you were also considering a new one:
"I should also mention that I sent an email to Laser Itnl to suss out any possibility of Sunfish arriving south of the equator."

I mentioned that in case as a reason to buy the used one (e.g., if others buy new, it won't be an anomaly). Sorry to confuse.

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5 hours ago, Crazy Horse said:

Fair dinkum mate, let go of your Seppo memories and get a yacht that is popular in your part of AU and will have a resale value. Plenty of options, a laser would be 50 times better

Yeah, but scurrying around constantly to keep oneself upright isn't exactly fun... a Laser is a racing boat, not a cruiser to have fun on. Not to mention I weigh only about 60 kg, even a 4.7 would be a lot of work.

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36 minutes ago, KCfromDC said:

Yeah, but scurrying around constantly to keep oneself upright isn't exactly fun... a Laser is a racing boat, not a cruiser to have fun on. Not to mention I weigh only about 60 kg, even a 4.7 would be a lot of work.

I dare to challenge that description. Heavily raced but really no raceboat. Look at my 1970s marketing stuff. Beach Boat 100%. Made out of a low performance laminate that made affordable build possible. Simple ally spars.  When I was a kid we replaced the penguin with the lasers and never looked back. the little kids sailed with 2 up, mates and skippers 1 up. Full rig. We had a blast. Yeah Chesapeake is very light wind MOST of the time....but the point is kids could sail them.

The laser is too small for me now. I weight 100 kags and sometimes another 10. But I can still sail them. A few years ago I was having tons of fun at the club racing them in our informal afternoons. Lots of silly fun. One time I recovered in sahllpw water and ran the boat to get an overlap. Anything goes." 

I have to scurry around in a sunfish too. But really if you use the sheet, you can avoid that in both boats. Hahahaha.

I was 11 when I started racing them. My brother was 9. When he was 10 or 11 and still a MAte, he beat EVERYONE in the long distance race. Howd you do that?"  Well, my brother and J went that way. I knew I couldin't beat them going the same way..."  We weighed less than you.  One very good sailor named Holly used to beat us as long as the wind didnt get up aove say 10. She must have been 80 lbs soaking wet. Whats taht--36 kag?

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32 minutes ago, fastyacht said:

what I am really tryign to suggest is that either boat will be fun. One might be "better for you in some overall sense but the one you can have NOW, rather than a year from now--that is the boat for you.

Got it. :) My other rationale to get the club to buy was to give our adult LTS students a chance to learn single-handed without getting overwhelmed. They do Pacers/Herons once a week for a couple hours, but otherwise there's no room for advancement. Kids are on the water 2 or 3 times more often than the adults (on Open skiffs) and are more adept to sailing solo when it's time to move up. Not to mention they're used to capsizing every 5 minutes. :lol:

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If Laser's are everywhere around you, why not just a Laser Radial.  Much more calm if you are not into being that into a Laser.  I messed up my back and could barely get around in a Laser so I took out a 4.7 the first week the physical therapist begrudgingly agreed to me sailing.  It was slow but it was super easy and I didn't hike once.

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