this short pamphlet is a great introduction to sailing a Sunfish (.pdf link below)
it’s quick and easy to read – only 10 pages long! but with nice color photographs and good explanations of the basic steps to sailing a Sunfish.
the 1st day is spent on the boat, initially without the sail, to learn how the boat moves in the water, using the tiller/rudder to steer, or just paddling. then, it goes over the proper way to raise and lower the sail. finally, day 1 wraps up with tipping the boat over, specifically so that you will learn that it is pretty simple and easy to tip it back upright (in 15 seconds, they say!)
prior to starting day 2, they talk a bit about the wind and weather – and how a sailor can learn to anticipate wind shifts while sailing. they also explain how sailing “works” – that is, how the wind and sail work together to move the boat depending on the direction you’re sailing.
the 2nd day is spent sailing – learning how to position yourself on the boat, and the various points of sail trim, particularly starting out reaching across the wind. they start by sailing on a reach (a beam reach is when the wind is perpendicular to the length of the boat – see diagram below) and after sailing a short distance, turning around (a 180-degree, “U”-turn), and sailing a beam reach back to where you started. and then repeated as necessary to get sufficient practice.
the 3rd day is spent learning how to sail into the wind (sailing a zig-zag pattern, or “beating”) as finishes up with sailing downwind. an interesting key point while beating upwind…
…when “reaching”, you learned to continually adjust the sail to keep it just on the verge of luffing, while keeping the boat on a steady course. “Beating” requires the opposite approach… ADJUST THE BOAT TO BEAT…
they explain step-by-step procedures for beating upwind – sailing close-hauled – and making frequent 90-degree turns to zig-zag your way into the wind, all while staying out of the “no-sail zone”, or risk getting stuck “in irons”. then, they explain turning to sail with the wind, and then how to complete a gybe turn.
that pretty much wraps it up! overall, I’d say this is a great introduction to sailing, and particularly to the Sunfish sailboat, because all of the pictures used are Sunfish sailboats! it also gives non-sailors some insight into how sailing a small board-boat such as a Sunfish is not really that complicated. part of the appeal of the Sunfish is its simplicity – only 2 lines: one to raise the sail (halyard) and one to adjust the sail trim (mainsheet); and the tiller and rudder. once the sail is raised, you really have only 2 things to worry about – adjust the sail trim with one hand on the mainsheet, and adjust the course steered by moving the tiller (which turns the rudder). piece of cake, right!!