How To Rig A Sunfish Sailboat? (Step By Step Guide)

Sunfish sailboats are a lot of fun and easy to use. They are a great boat to have at your dock for the kids or adults to play around on. The only daunting part is rigging the sunfish, which is actually not that hard. This article will guide you through the process of rigging your sunfish.

Before you start taking steps to rig your sunfish there are a few things to keep in mind. See below.

The three knots your need to know for rigging a sunfish are listed below:

  • Bowline
  • Figure 8
  • Cleat Hitch

Another important tip to remember is, that rigging sunfish or laser-type boats can be done if different ways. This is a basic setup and can be used on most sunfish boats. Let’s start rigging!

1. Attach the rudder to your sunfish sailboat.

The rudder is the first item you will connect to your sunfish. Make sure to slide the tiller of the rudder under the traveler line.

2. Point your sunfish boat into the wind.

Pointing your sunfish sailboat into the wind will make it easier when raising your sail. It is the same even if you are on a large boat out in the ocean. Raising the mainsail is always easier when the wind isn’t hitting it.

3. Lay the spars and sail on the port side.

This step is where you will bring out the sail, boom, and mast for setup. Make sure the halyard is free of entanglement.

4. Run the halyard through the mast cap.

Make sure the line is run through the mast cap to the side of the mast with the cleat. This way you will be able to raise the sail and cleat it off.

5. Raise the mast and insert it into the mast step.

Run the mast through the gooseneck before inserting it into the mast step in the deck.

6. Pull the halyard to raise the sail and upper boom.

This step will raise the sail and booms. If the sail is not going all the way up, you may need to lift on the gooseneck while pulling the halyard. This will be difficult if you skipped step 2. Once the sail is all the way up, cleat it off with a cleat hitch knot. If the cleat is on the opposite side of the mast go back to step 4.

7. Rig the mainsheet by running it through the block.

The block will only turn in one direction so make sure to feed it through correctly. If it turns both ways it will still work, but it will be harder on your arms. Tie a stopper knot at the end of the sheet. Figure 8 knot should work great. The other end of the sheet gets tied to the traveler with a bowline knot.

8. Attach the daggerboard to the mast.

Daggerboards go down through the middle of the boat and act as the keel for the sunfish. You always want a safety bungee attached to the daggerboard and the mast in case you flip over. You do not want it sinking to the bottom of the ocean.

9. Put the boat into the water.

Once you get your boat into the water, double-check all lines are positioned correctly. Also, put the daggerboard into the water, as long as it isn’t too shallow. If it is too shallow, wait until you get into deeper water.

Video Guide For Rigging A Sunfish Sailboat

The video below shows a more in-depth walkthrough of rigging a sunfish sailboat. Even if you don’t have this exact type of boat it can be applied to yours in some ways.

If you would like to learn more about Sunfish sailboats keep reading!

History Of Sunfish Sailboats

Sunfish was developed by Alcort, INC and first appeared around 1952 as the “next generation” improvement on their original boat, the sailfish. In contrast, the Sunfish has a wider beam for more stability, an increased freeboard, and the addition of a foot-well for a more comfortable sailing position. Sunfish began as a wood hull design and progressed to fiberglass construction just a few years after its introduction.

The Alcort Company was created by Alex Bryan and Cortlandt Heyniger in 1945. They began this company by building iceboats. While building iceboats, they were approached by the Red Cross to build a prototype for a lifesaving paddleboard. They decided to improve the idea and came up with more of a sailing canoe style instead of a paddleboard. After designing this canoe they thought they had a new money-making idea, and they did. This is when the Sailfish was born.

Bryan’s wife suggested a boat where she would be able to put her feet into a small cockpit. This changed the design from Sailfish to Sunfish.

They continued making boats for years. Originally these boats were all wood, which I personally love, and wish I had one, but in 1960 the first fiberglass model came out and wood boats were eventually phased out. Take a look at the timeline below for more key dates in the Sunfish life.

  • 1969 – American Machine and Foundry (AMF) took over production.
  • 1971 – A storage compartment was added to the rear of the cockpit.
  • 1995 – The Sunfish is inducted into the American Sailboat Hall of Fame.
  • 1997 – Vanguard takes over making Sunfish sailboats.
  • 2007 – Laser is now the maker of Sunfish sailboats.

Now you might be asking yourself how much are these and where can I get one? Keep reading to find out!

How Much Does A Sunfish Sailboat Cost? – Where To Buy

A new sunfish sailboat will cost you between $4000 and $6000 dollars. You can go to Sunfish Direct and design your own boat. I did a test of this and mine would have cost me $4885 dollars, if I picked it up from their facility.

Sunfish Direct is a great place to go if you have the money for a new boat and want to design it yourself. I did a basic setup in my design and found the price to be very fair. You don’t have to go with a new one though.

You can go to Smart Marine Guide and find them for much cheaper. You won’t get the exact style or color you want probably, but it is still a great option to go used. I have seen them for $500 on this site, but you have to live near where it is of course. There are a lot of options though.

If you just need parts I recommend going to the link below. It is Sunfish Directs amazon page and they have everything you need.

In Conclusion

This article was all about Sunfish Sailboats and how to rig them. Remember this is a basic rigging setup and can be altered in many ways. The important thing to remember is to do what is best for your situation. If you are thinking of buying a sunfish, use the links in the “How Much Does A Sunfish Sailboat Cost” section. If all you are looking for is parts, click the sunfish direct button above. They will have everything you need. I hope this article helps you with your sunfish sailboat. Let me know by contacting BoatlifeHQ.


Boatlifehq owner and author/editor of this article.

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