Sunny Side Up


I got a really nice invitation from old Anarchist friend and longtime sailor chick Gail Turlock to come and sail the Sunfish Masters US Nationals on a chartered boat this weekend in Gull Lake, Michigan. For someone looking to get my 1-year old baby girl in as many pretty bodies of water as possible, it was too good to pass up. So we're headed over to Richland to jump on the 3-mile long lake, where Mer and Joey will play on the GLYC beach and I'll go embarrass myself on the water.

I've never sailed a Sunfish and I've only raced one singlehanded regatta in my life (in a Force 5), so I have zero expectations...but I'd prefer not to come in last in this 40-ish boat regatta.

So...anyone have any tips on making a Sunfish go fast while carrying 210 pounds of meat on it? What about triangle courses? Any inside knowledge about Gull Lake? Thanks much in advance, and if you're going, I look forward to meeting you.



New member
Pull the centerboard up on downwind legs. Light air, heel the boat so as little hull surface is in the water. Lose some weight! :)

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Wind conditions are going to be pretty forgiving this weekend. Tomorrow look for winds steady at 12 knots out of the west. My guess is that they will set start up on the opposite side of the lake from the Yacht Club with a weather mark near the YC shoreline. Look for big shifts the closer you get to the shore especially.

Saturday and Sunday look really light with winds out of the north west and slowly shifting to North East on Sunday. 5 - 10 knots is the most I'm seeing. More up and down the lake so pick a side and win it.

Sorry I was a bag of shit with eyes last night and I'm sure my advice sucked.

Good Luck,

Cheers - ND

Drain the hull,carry a spunge. Get the sail as hi as you can. I remember rigging a down haller with the halyard. If your blessed lots of wind, move forward to max beam. You can out haul the sail and up haul it on the booms. Make sure the boat has a forward pulling bundgy for the raised board off the wind. I've seen sailing pros fail the first time out on this one. They are slugs up hill,just sail fast and not too hi.

Ask about Duck Itch. Towel dry every time you get out Stops it.


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Vang? What vang? When I folded that lateen rig up going down wind in a 2' chop on the bay blowing way over max for that rig, my father said " you need a bigger boat". That event prompted my move into a force 5.




New member
Goose neck position is everything for upwind speed. I want say 15" from the the forward end of the boom is a good place to start. You move it aft as you get overpowered but I dont think that will be a problem for you ;-)

You almost never want gybe to port when you round the weather mark unless the breeze has gone SIGNIFICANTLY right on the upwind leg. Just bear off and sail deep on starboard as the sail has more shape on starboard tack than port tack. Board up, weather heel downwind, and dont be afraid to sail up and down aggressively to catch waves or work puffs and keep people off your breeze because everyone knows to stay on starboard the entire downwind if possible. You can sail faster by the lee on starboard than by gibing to port to get position most of the time.

Most people think of the Sunfish as a kids boat, but truth is the Sunfish is probably one of the more challenging boats to sail as it doesnt sail the same on each tack upwind and their are all sorts of little quirks to this boat that take a long time to figure out. Good luck and have fun. That why we do this anyway...right?



New member
The Ville
I am jealous. I had planned to sail the Masters at Gull Lake, but my son receives his PhD at Ohio State this weekend, so it's a no go for me. Take a look at this , lots of good advice in boat prep and sailing. For me the best part of Sunfish racing is it's such a simple boat you can focus on conditions, tactics and sailing fast. Don't try to point - put the hammer down and go for boat speed. Oh yea, party after the sailing not before.




Dude....first of gotta loos 30 lbs, so start your pineapple and high fiber diet NOW!! :)

At your weight, keep the goosenec between 14" and 16" from the forward edge of the boom.

In light air weight forward and slightly heeled. Medium and heavy stuff, keep it centered,except downwind on heavy air; keep the bow off the waves...the 'fush likes to nosedive on short waves.

Gooseneck height must be at about 6" from the deck when fully hoist.

You can trim hard on port tack, you need to easy the mainsheet on starboard tack.

Roll tack and roll gybe it in all conditions.

No pinching.

Downwind: always heel the boat to weather. Daggerboard half the way up. Try to sail longer on starboard gybe than port gybe as the sail is fuller. Sail by the lee.

Don't screw up!!

PM if need anything else.



Super Anarchist
Park City, UT
Bring a tape measure and some basic tools. Measure the distance from the tack to the gooseneck on some of the top boats as the stock position is too far aft, projecting the sail forward but clew down. You'll also want to do the Jens rig if it's not already set up. Years ago at least, the tie point for the halyard on the upper boom was at a fixed point so you ran the halyard further up the boom and then used some hitches, effectively lowering the whole rig, probably the biggest gaper move on a Sunfish, having your rig sky high.


Wavedancer II

Some good advice there.

In contrast to what Vela wrote, you can trim hard on starboard tack but do not let the boom go beyond the corner of the stern. Let out some sail on port tack due to the interference of the mast with the flow. The good guys don't pinch.

Blame your weight if you end up in the back pack...

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Super Anarchist
Ann Arbor, MI
Race like you stole it, Alan! Gull Lake is where I spent most all of my college sailing days. GREAT place and AWESOME lake! You'll enjoy it. Have a bandit time! All the best to your lovely Mer and Joey.

Shorelines have big shifts generally speaking. Lighter air, you can pick up some pretty good vagaries along the favored shore, if the course gets you there.