upgrading Sunfish lines

if you are in the market for new lines for your Sunfish, there are a plethora of options to choose from at the various Sunfish parts suppliers, as well as by calling your local sail shop, or even going down to the nearest hardware store to find some cheap line.

while the hardware store line is probably your cheapest option, the difficulty is usually that any line you find there will most likely not be low-stretch line, and the line could also absorb water when you are sailing – making it heavier and harder to handle.  neither of those things are deal-breakers for a recreational sailor, but your time of the water will probably be improved by getting sailing line instead.

the Sunfish halyard in a Flemish coil for O’Docker

the Sunfish manufacturer, Laser Performance, has some “official” line kits available at Sunfish dealers.  there is both a recreational ($83) and pro level ($134!) line kits that come with all the lines you could want and need, all pre-cut to the proper length and with the optimized line type for each line use on the Sunfish.  these “official” line kits are rather expensive, though, and there are some better and cheaper options out there.

there is also the Sunfish “Tune-a-Fish Kit“, which includes the standard lines for your Sunfish, but also a hiking strap, plastic sail clips, and a tiller extension universal… all packaged in a cute little cooler with a Sunfish logo.  the kit comes in at a pretty steep $130, though.

Sunfish Tune-A-Fish kit

Annapolis Performance Sailing (APS) also has their own custom line kits: a pro/racing line kit ($~95) and a recreational line kit ($~45).  the recreational line package is a pretty good deal — I actually bought this line kit last year – and have been very happy with it.  the APS website also shows the approximate line lengths, diameters, and types of line you might consider for each line if you want to buy them individually.

if you are a purely recreational sailor, though, and have found an older Sunfish to start sailing, you might be better off just buying the line individually.  there are the (2) basic control lines – the mainsheet for adjusting sail trim, and the halyard to raise and lower the sail.  a 3rd line to consider is a piece of shock cord, sometimes called a JC strap – to act as a daggerboard retainer.  this shock cord, if long enough, can also be run from the daggerboard up to the tack of the sail (where the 2 booms meet) and back – this will then double as both a daggerboard retainer, and will also help to hold your sail out when sailing downwind in light air.

Intensity Sails has some pretty inexpensive choices for these lines: the mainsheet is Bzzz Line available in 7mm or 8mm diameters ($25) and the halyard is 24 feet of 5mm line ($20).

a final line choice is if you want to switch away from the plastic sail clips to sail ties.  I bought a small pre-cut kit last year and switched my new Sunfish sail to the sail ties. the colored line on the right-hand side is the outhaul line that connects to the boom end-cap.

for the future, though, for probably both the sail ties and maybe even the outhauls, I am planning to buy this spool of 1.8mm line from Intensity Sails.  at 100-ft of line, it’s probably more than a typical sailor might need, but I don’t mind having enough to switch over several sails to the sail ties. the 100-ft spool should be enough for 3 full Sunfish sails.

for more information on Sunfish rigging, check out my list of Sunfish rigging guides.

I also went into detail on how I set up my new Sunfish sail (w/pictures).

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2 Responses to “upgrading Sunfish lines”


  1. 1 Baydog February 18, 2012 at 12:06 am

    I send my daughter to school sometimes with a Tuna Fish Kit. It’s got tuna salad in a can and some crackers to spread it on. Made by Bumble Bee.
    That’s not what you were talking about?

    Speaking of Sunfishes, This following post of Tillerman’s is one of my favorites, because when I read this I immediately knew who he was writing about when he said who is that guy?


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