greater Detroit 2021 Sunfish race schedule

the Greater Detroit Sunfish Club (GDSC) has released their 2021 Sunfish race schedule. you can also check them out on their Facebook page.

  • May 16th – Baseline Lake (with the Michigan Sailing Club)
  • June 6th – Watkins Lake
  • June 26th & 27th -Independence Day camping weekend at Muskegon Lake State Park
  • July 25th – U.P. Island Race (Les Cheneaux YC… details t.b.d.)
  • September 4th & 5th – Labor Day camping weekend at Higgins Lake
  • September 19th – Baseline Lake (with the Michigan Sailing Club)
  • September 26th – Watkins Lake

all Sunday races start at 12:30pm [uno], with the camping/racing weekends starting earlier in the day to get extra races in over the weekend.

I said this last year (and the year before… and the year before… and the year before), and didn’t get a chance to sail with this group, but I’m again going to do my best to meet up with them for some sailing races this year.  with all the “stay at home” and corona virus issues still lingering around though… maybe not.

on the wings of a Sunfish

I found a woodworking and sailing creator named Mark on Instagram that has been experimenting with building a wing foil for his Sunfish.

photo by Mark Palmquist

The wing is designed to skim over the water like a horizontal water ski. If it dives, the wing will still have a lifting force due to its curved upper trailing edge. The speed record for a sunfish is around 11 knots in 20 knots of wind. Beyond that bow gets too bouncy and your live ballast can no long keep the hull flat. The wing creates lift on the leeward side forward of the center of effort lifting the hull. Hopefully the wing won’t come loose. It’s basically clamped on.

photo by Mark Palmquist

Mark has two videos posted with the wing foil attached to his Sunfish – the first was very light winds, so not really a good test, but the video below was higher wind. (click thru to watch the video on Instagram…)

Results: a hydroplaning wing works much better on a skinnier, faster hull. The current wing shape is not ideal. Fluid separated on the upper surface. It needs to be optimized for underwater lift, which means having the foil lower and changing the profile shape. Hydroplaning only works well at speeds above 11 knots and that’s the speed limit of the sunfish. Therefore a sunfish would benefit more from a hydrofoil since they work at 8 knots.

sounds like mixed results, so I’ll be curious to see if Mark goes back to the drawing board to tweak the foil shape… or if he maybe has moved on to tweaking his ideas on a sailboat that is a little sleeker than an ol’ Sunfish.

3 versions of the modern Sunfish sail

here’s a new photo from Julian S. showing all 3 versions of the Farrar Sunfish “modern” sail that the Sag Harbor sailors are developing – you can see how they’ve made changes from the Mk 1 to Mk 3 sail.

pictured right to left:
#11 is Mk I
#1.62 is Mk. II
#888 is Mk. III
Behind 888 is a standard Sunfish sail

a “modern” Sunfish sail

here is some updated information on the new “modern’ Sunfish sails that are being used by the Sunfish sailors on Sag Harbor.  the sails are designed by a member of the Sag Harbor Sunfish sailing fleet, along with Kevin Farrar from Farrar Sails in New London, Connecticut. all photos and the highlights listed below were provided by Julian S., one of the Sunfish sailors using these new sails on Sag Harbor.

a few highlights for the new sails:

  • kevlar reinforced mylar – you can see in front of you!
  • the sail is made with a sock over the upper spar – no sail ties – results in better air flow over the front spar
  • slightly larger total area – moved to the top of the sail
  • 28″ removed from the lower spar with no weather helm
  • center of force on the sail now over the centerboard

they have made other modifications such as inboard (not on the spar) outhaul control.  and what looks like an upgrade mainsheet control (see pic below).


there is a 3rd version of the sail in the works with a square top and loose foot that is even shorter still and will allow for center sheeting (no bridle in the back).  the red sail is a prototype of their Mk. III sail.

honestly, I think the perfect match would be to pair these modern updated sails, or at least a similar version of them, with the newly designed and upcoming Rocket sailboat – which looks like it has made some great improvements on the Sunfish hull design.

[I’ve blogged about these sails before: the future of Sunfish sailing part 2 and part 3.]

laser surfing

pretty insane waves this sailor is “surfing” on with his Laser near the Barra Lighthouse (Farol da Barra) in Brazil.

I’ve sailed in some fairly decent waves on Lake Michigan, but nothing quite that big.

WATERFUN: 8 things sailing lessons don’t teach you [video]

Lee Montes is back at it again with another great video about Sunfish sailing. this time, he put together his list of 8 things that aren’t always taught or mentioned if you have taken an intro or beginner’s sailing class. and if you’re self-taught (like me), then you might not have heard any of these things yet.

a good visual guide to help if you’re looking for some reading material before the warm weather gets here is the learn to sail in 3 days guide.

here’s a simple breakdown of Lee’s list: WATERFUN, with my thoughts in parentheses:

  1. Weather forecast (use a wind forecast app like sailflow or I prefer windfinder)
  2. Anticipation (look ahead to keep an eye on others on the water – motorboats, kayakers, swimmers, as well as wind and current changes)
  3. Tacks (Sunfish sails a little different on port and starboard tacks due to the lateen sail how it sits on the side of the mast – you can trim the sail further in on a port tack)
  4. Education (lessons, clubs, classes)
  5. Racing (racing improves your sailing, join the Sunfish Class)
  6. Feel (weight/balance as you sit, feel the wind)
  7. Upwind first (sail the harder upwind tack first so it is easier to get back home – totally agree with this one, I use this method on Lake Michigan all the time)
  8. Never stop sailing (more time on the water = a better sailor)

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