racing vs. recreational sailing

in a sailor’s life, there comes a point in time where a decision must be made: do I want to race my sailboat competitively?  the issue for me, having a Sunfish sailboat, is that to race competitively in class-legal events, it would require a significant cost investment.  the Sunfish Class has rules that apply at any class-legal racing event – rules in regards to sail manufacturer, sailboat hardware measurements, etc.  as my initial interest was mainly as a hobby, I bought my boat(s) as they seemed nice and appeared to be sea-worthy, without thought/care/consideration for the rules & requirements that might apply down the road.

but, if I were to join the Sunfish class (I haven’t even done that yet!), and my Sunfish were up to spec, then there are several Sunfish regattas in the Midwest that I could trailer over to participate in, and I’m sure have a great time with fellow lovers of the ‘Fish (like this one I watched and photographed in September).  as I seem to have trouble convincing my friends how much fun it is to sail, maybe that might be a good option to consider.  I think I might be in a bit of luck, though, in that the Greater Detroit Sunfish Club (I haven’t joined this one either!), holds several races over the course of the summer, and they are a bit more relaxed on the class rules, probably a bit more family-focused, and have several camping trips scheduled around racing weekends as well.

to break down some of the costs I’d be looking at for the two options:

OR… going the alternate, cheaper & recreationally-inclined route:

class-legal: ~$850, and it doesn’t include new lines and a new ratchet block for my mainsheet.

recreational: ~$350, IF I want to upgrade to the racing sail and racing daggerboard.  granted, if I wanted to keep using my old sail and current wooden daggerboard for a while racing in the club, that would be even less expensive.

being mostly self-taught at this point, not really up to speed on the rules of racing, and skippering a 40-yr old overweight beast of a Sunfish, I think I’d be a bit foolish at this point to dive right into the class-legal side of things.  I think that this next summer will be a good gauge, as I continue to try to improve my current Sunfish (drying it out, leak test, maybe new lines & a new practice race sail?), as well as get a better handle on how often I can squeeze in sailing days with my 3 boys constantly craving a master Lego craftsmen and wrestling partner to keep them occupied!

and I think that over time, as I hopefully sail more and more, and get my boys sailing more and more as they grow older – when the time comes to switch to class-legal sailing, at that point, it will probably be in our best interest to upgrade to a new(er) boat that is already class-legal, and not a dinosaur like I currently have!

for now, I get to just dream of these things – we have a few inches of snow on the ground, and I just saw that the weather man says a “major freeze” is coming our way.  it makes is so difficult to read the blogs of other sailors in warmer climates as they enjoy the sun, the surf, the wind – all while my wife throws on our giant down comforter and keeps sneaking to nudge the thermostat up a notch or two.

ps. sorry about the long delay between posts – been busy with the usual hectic life around the holiday season, and am spending a lot of my free time down in my workshop, crafting a wine cabinet/sideboard out of cherry – a gift for my wife.

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8 Responses to “racing vs. recreational sailing”


  1. 1 oldsalt1942 January 9, 2010 at 11:20 pm

    Time for you to check out the Puddle Duck Racers

    http://www.pdracer.com/

    * Sunfish Class: $35 yearly
    * Sunfish racing sail (class-legal, Laser Performance): $439.25
    * FRP Sunfish rudder blade (supposed to be amazing): $222.60

    PDR — COST OF BOAT which can be built for half the cost of your class-legal, Laser Performance.

    And these people who build and race them have more fun than any class of boats should be allowed to have.

    • 2 my2fish January 10, 2010 at 11:43 am

      oldsalt1942,
      I’ve seen the pdracer before… I just can’t imagine it’s too fast out on the water, though! I imagine it’d be fun to tinker with building one, but even though my ‘Fish is overweight, it can still FLY across the water.

      and, it’s not just the amount of the cost, it’s more whether it is appropriate – and right now, I just don’t think it is.

      thanks for the thoughts.
      my2fish

  2. 3 johne January 11, 2010 at 12:26 pm

    Try the racing thing out with your current boat. You probably won’t be as bad off as you think. If you like it, then think about the upgrade. The nice thing about the Sunfish class is that the boats are not really high performance, so the small differences will not hurt that badly unless you are looking to win the regatts. There will be many others in the fleet that are in the same situation as you. The boat I sail is the one I got when I was 11 years old (over 40 years ago).

    Good luck, have fun, see you out there.

  3. 4 Edith January 20, 2010 at 12:26 pm

    GDSC has several boats in the fleet that are not the newest. Mine was built in 1985 and still needs to be dried out a bit. I sailed with the club for most of a year before I got around to buying a racing sail but I would recommend that addition just because it is so much nicer to sail with a window. No need to get the expensive one until you want to go to regionals. I plan to upgrade my tiller assembly this year. One thing at a time as I learn more about sailing. There is SO much difference between racing with a group and sailing on your own IMHO. I have learned a lot in 1 1/2 years with the group. They are most generous in helping out new members.

    • 5 my2fish January 20, 2010 at 8:43 pm

      Edith, thanks for the comments about GDSC. I’ve heard good things about it, but as I mentioned on your blog, haven’t had a chance to meet up with you all yet. I look forward to it, though, and hope to have a great summer of sailing.

      my2fish

  4. 6 mycsunfish March 3, 2013 at 10:13 am

    I started racing at the club level a few years ago. What I found is that unless you’re going to compete in the regionals or the North Americans, nobody cares if you have the “official” parts. the Intensity equivalents are good enough. I have an LP racing sail and the Intensity daggerboard. I’ve raced at seval clubs and several series, with no issues. If you show up at a class sanctioned event with non class approved gear, i’ve heard that they will let you race, but they won’t score you. I’m nowhere near good enough to sail in the sanctioned events, so I’ve got no worries there. Ratchets and lines from any source are allowed, so you can pick them up cheap online or at a local marine supply store.

    • 7 my2fish March 3, 2013 at 10:29 am

      MYCSunfish, that seems to be what I hear a lot. there is a local club here in the Detroit area, supposed to be very family friendly too, but I just haven’t been able to meet up with them yet.


  1. 1 racing vs. recreational sailing « my2fish: a blog about sunfish … « Sail Boating Trackback on January 9, 2010 at 11:15 pm

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