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An Introduction to the Sunfish Sailboat

By Charles Hopkins Published 08/31/2006 | Fishing and Boating

If you are looking for a sailboat that allows you to get away by yourself and enjoy the water for hours on end, the Sunfish Sailboat may be perfect for you.

Originally introduced in 1951, the Sailfish Sailboat was designed by Alcort, a company that was created in the 1940's by the team of Cortland Heyniger and Alex Bryan. The Sailfish Sailboat was designed to engage a growing market of persons who loved to boat, but were not interested in upkeep and maintenance of larger boats. The original design has sometimes been described as an over-sized surfboard that has been outfitted with a sail and a rudder. While the Sunfish Sailboat had it's detractors early on, the design begin to catch on and by the mid 1950's had proven to be immensely popular.

Carl Meinelt, an employee at Alcort, helped to refine the basic design of the Sunfish Sailboat as the decade progressed.  As plastics and fiberglass began to be used more commonly for boat construction, the Sunfish Sailboat became lighter and even easier for its crew of one to maneuver. Before the decade was over, Sunfish Boat Races began to pop up in many places around the United States, eventually branching out to other parts of the world as well.

One of the enduring qualities of the Sunfish Sailboat is the fact that is very simple to operate. Essentially, two ropes allow the sail to be adjusted with great ease. The steering mechanism is a simple tiller, which allows the passenger to control the rudder. Because the boat is very light, it requires no special trailers or equipment to move it from land to sea. Taking down the sail for storage requires little more effort than it would take to fold a large bed sheet. The size of the boat itself makes for easy storage in a garage or storage facility.

Keeping up a Sunfish Sailboat is also a breeze. Any cleansers that would normally be used for a boat will work just fine with a Sunfish. The simplistic board-like design of the boat means there are few nooks and crannies to clean out. The lack of an engine or any type of electrical equipment translates into no need for tune-ups, oil changes, or replacement of expensive parts. Most of the upkeep will revolve around the sail itself, which is not very labor intensive, provided care is given to follow the manufacturers instructions. 

Sunfish Sailboats that are used for racing rather than recreation are slightly more complicated, but even then they are still much more simplistic than many sailing boats.  In addition to the standard issue design, a racing sunfish will most likely sport vang lines, a quick release adjuster, and an out-haul.  Additional equipment may be come standard with the racing variety as sunfish racing continues to gain popularity all around the world. In any given year, local and regional competitions easily number in the thousands. 

Whether you are looking for a fun sport to participate in or just want some time on the water by yourself, the Sunfish Sailboat is a great solution, and one that will not cost a lot of money. To learn more about Sunfish Sailboats, check around online or visit a local marina.