a bit of Sunfish history

I saw this article posted a little while back over at the Yahoo Sunfish Sailor Group, and thought I’d share it: written September 20, 1982, so less than a month shy of 28 years ago in Sports Illustrated magazine.


the article was titled: “Here She Is, The True Love Boat.”  it’s an interesting read, and neat to see how some things have changed in the last couple decades since the article was written, as well as how some things have more or less stayed the same.  here are a few of my favorite quotes from the article:

World class racers such as Dennis Conner, of America’s Cup fame, and Gary Hoyt, who developed the Freedom class and won the first Sunfish worlds in 1972, learned to sail at the slim wooden tiller of the Sunfish.

…but when FORTUNE came up with a new list, in 1977, of the 25 best-designed contemporary products, the Sunfish was right there along with the Trimline Touch-Tone telephone, the Porsche 911 S Targa and Adidas running shoes.

on the explanation for the Sunfish symbol:

I drew a circle with a nickel and added the fins and the tail and the eye. Nothing we did was ever really accomplished with too much forethought, you know.

another quote, this one from Will White (quoted in the article),  who says:

The Sunfish is pure sailing—the sail in the wind, the board in the water, and you in the hull in between—one hand on the tiller, the other on the sheet and the wind in your hair. Pure sailboat racing, too. For the racing sailor, it is the essence of yacht racing. It was the first truly one-design boat, rigidly controlled by the manufacturer, with even the sails limited to one loft and very little that could be done in the way of adding expensive go-fasts. No need for a new set of sails every year. No need to keep buying or changing expensive hardware to keep up with the latest sailing theory…

they received some very good publicity at a boat show in New York in 1948:

But they were beginning to think a little bigger and they contacted an ad man, who wangled a very small patch of space for their very small boat on the floor of New York City’s Grand Central Palace, where the 1948 New York National Boat Show was being held. Fortuitously, the Sailfish—that cute little wood chip with its perky lateen sail—wound up sitting right next to a 57-foot Wheeler yacht, the largest boat in the show. The glorious contrast between the two made the Sailfish the talk of the town.

the biggest moment, though, came when LIFE magazine published a story on the sailboats, including some great photos of them being sailed out on the water.  (here is a link to the article.)  if you haven’t joined the Yahoo Sunfish Sailor Group yet, you definitely should, and then search through the “Photo” section there – there is a scanned copy of the LIFE magazine article, in a little bit better quality than the Google Books link. the two magazine articles give a pretty good glimpse into the past, and some good information on how the Sunfish came to be.


2 Responses to “a bit of Sunfish history”

  1. 1 luis de block February 4, 2011 at 7:31 pm

    soy un aficionado de la vela sunfih y me parece muy oportuno felicitarlos por la descripción e historia del dibujo sunfich

  2. 2 my2fish February 4, 2011 at 9:06 pm

    I’m used Google Translate to try to understand you there. thanks for the kind words and for stopping by!


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