Is Sunfish Race right for me?

Sun

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I am 59yrs old, 149lb, 5'8ft. I am not in a bad shape, but joints, back, neck are all getting there. Is Sunfish Race a good choice for an old guy with no sailing background? Are there any better dinghies around that can be a better fit?
 
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501beercanracer

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I haven't raced my Sunfish but I get the feeling that you could race it as intensely, or as relaxed, as you'd like. If you have a local club that races bigger boats you could also volunteer as crew. That's a great way to gain experience.
 
That depends on where you live and what the local racing scene looks like. The Sunfish is a great boat to learn on and it is raced all over the place. Racing is also a great way to become a better sailor. If you have no sailing background at all, I recommend saving racing for phase 2. Phase 1 should be about finding a good place to sail, connecting with local sailors, and finding a boat you can afford that will maximize your time on the water. That might be a used Sunfish, or it might be a 16-22' cruiser or maybe even an old Snark you find at a garage sale. What's important is figuring out where you'll keep it, and how you'll get it to the water to sail it. Take a few lessons along the way and by the time you're done with Phase 1, you'll already know whether racing is a good fit and have an idea of what your racing options are. The best way to learn to sail is always to go sailing. As often as possible.
 

Rum Runner

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Sunfish is as good as any boat. The important thing is to take some lessons to understand what you are doing. Overall a Sunfish is a very forgiving boat for someone just starting out. A race boat is the same as any other with the exception of having a racing sail which is a bit more adjustable than a recreational sail.
 
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Sun

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Check out RS Dinghies. What dinghies are available to race in your area? The MC Scow is also great class for anyone interested in going fast but not tipping over every other minute. Super stable vessel in my opinion
MC Scow is a sweet boat - a little hard to right solo, maybe? Could be a good second boat. RS has quite a few options; I'll check them out.
 
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Sun

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That depends on where you live and what the local racing scene looks like. The Sunfish is a great boat to learn on and it is raced all over the place. Racing is also a great way to become a better sailor. If you have no sailing background at all, I recommend saving racing for phase 2. Phase 1 should be about finding a good place to sail, connecting with local sailors, and finding a boat you can afford that will maximize your time on the water. That might be a used Sunfish, or it might be a 16-22' cruiser or maybe even an old Snark you find at a garage sale. What's important is figuring out where you'll keep it, and how you'll get it to the water to sail it. Take a few lessons along the way and by the time you're done with Phase 1, you'll already know whether racing is a good fit and have an idea of what your racing options are. The best way to learn to sail is always to go sailing. As often as possible.
I don't have racing in my mind yet. If I can sail without flipping every five minutes, I will be happy. I want the Race version as it has more control lines, and they are not complicated. When I feel ready, phase 2 will be fun though.
 

Ventucky Red

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I am 59yrs old, 149lb, 5'8ft. I am not in a bad shape, but joints, back, neck are all getting there. Is Sunfish Race a good choice for an old guy with no sailing background? Are there any better dinghies around that can be a better fit?
Yes, great boat to sart with. You can get them cheap, and sell quick if you descide to move up.
 
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Alan Crawford

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For your purposes, a Sunfish sounds like a good start! As with any small sailboat, be careful if purchasing a used Sunfish as a "good deal" may turn out to be a good deal of work to get the boat in sailing condition. I'm not a Sunfish sailer but read a lot about old Sunfish hulls being very heavy due to leaks and saturation of the floatation foam. Talk to experienced Sunfish sailers before purchasing used.

For learning, the main control line to be focused with is the mainsheet!

Also consider a Rocket? See the Rocket thread.
 

Sun

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For your purposes, a Sunfish sounds like a good start! As with any small sailboat, be careful if purchasing a used Sunfish as a "good deal" may turn out to be a good deal of work to get the boat in sailing condition. I'm not a Sunfish sailer but read a lot about old Sunfish hulls being very heavy due to leaks and saturation of the floatation foam. Talk to experienced Sunfish sailers before purchasing used.

For learning, the main control line to be focused with is the mainsheet!

Also consider a Rocket? See the Rocket thread.
I've been reading about how to dry the foam in the hull. Doable, but yes, annoying work. The new hulls don't have the foam. Still, I'll go with a used one and deal with it, I guess.

Yes, I've check out the Rocket. Nice boat.
 
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Sun

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Check out RS Dinghies. What dinghies are available to race in your area? The MC Scow is also great class for anyone interested in going fast but not tipping over every other minute. Super stable vessel in my opinion
RS Areo seems like a nice one too, but I assume, it would be too much for me. Rs Neo or Zest are good, but I think I'd stick with the Sunfish instead. And MC Scow is very tempting.
 
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WCB

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@Sun what do you mean the Race version has more lines? Is this a new thing from Laser Performance? Having raced Sunfish back in the eighties, other than the halyard which was hard to adjust in the Jens style rig, outhauls too far away to reach, there was only a mainsheet. I guess there was the "vang" created with the extra main halyard line but again, not really adjustable except for between races.
 
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tillerman

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RS Areo seems like a nice one too, but I assume, it would be too much for me. Rs Neo or Zest are good, but I think I'd stick with the Sunfish instead. And MC Scow is very tempting.
The RS Aero is not really a boat aimed at complete beginners to sailing. But it is a fun ride, so something you might consider once you have mastered the Sunfish.
 
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Wavedancer II

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@Sun what do you mean the Race version has more lines? Is this a new thing from Laser Performance? Having raced Sunfish back in the eighties, other than the halyard which was hard to adjust in the Jens style rig, outhauls too far away to reach, there was only a mainsheet. I guess there was the "vang" created with the extra main halyard line but again, not really adjustable except for between races.
Yes, almost all racers run adjustable outhaul and Cunningham lines that are easy to adjust from cockpit area.
Many also use a halyard system that allows one to rig (and adjust) a Jens while on the water. And yes, the tail end of the halyard can be used to rig a simple vang as well.
 

Sun

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@Sun what do you mean the Race version has more lines? Is this a new thing from Laser Performance? Having raced Sunfish back in the eighties, other than the halyard which was hard to adjust in the Jens style rig, outhauls too far away to reach, there was only a mainsheet. I guess there was the "vang" created with the extra main halyard line but again, not really adjustable except for between races.
sunfish-rigging-drawing.jpg
 

WCB

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Interesting developments...those were not around when we raced Sunfish but once my age group turned about 18yo, the fleet died a sudden death. My Sunfish was tossed by Hurricane Bob and was promptly sold to a local Sunfish fleet in the Barnstable, Cape Cod area and may be sailing there today.

@Sun I for one think that you should buy a used Laser. They are available everywhere. You could buy one with the Radial/6 rig on it already or buy a full/7 rigged boat and treat yourself to a full carbon mast. More importantly, there are fleets everywhere if you ever decide to race and to your point about pulling strings, with the new rigging, you have lots to do. The new cunningham, outhaul, and vang are fun to play. Better yet, buy the pre-made systems from a company like West Coast Sailing and you'll have a tricked out Laser.
 
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