Small Sailboat Racing Books

With our class, when it comes to buoy racing, you would think the name of the game is to build a bigger better sail and then zip away from your competition. But it isn't that easy. I have an essay covering a lot of factors involved with making your duck sail faster, but after you get better at those things, you need to go further and study how to get through traffic and move up the race course.

The Sunfish Bible

Yes, I know, the Sunfish looks way different than the Puddle Duck. However, there are a lot of interesting similarities between them that make sunfish books excellent to read and pickup techniques that are directly applicable to the PDRacer.

The Sunfish started off as a set of plans you purchased and then built your own hull. Then precut kits became available, and soon after complete plywood hulls were available from builders. Then came the fiberglass hulls just in time for the explosion of small sailboats being a popular hobby. The Sunfish quickly rose to the top of the hull number count, and (not including the sunfish clones) was for a long time the most popular boat in the world. When the olympic games were searching for a small simple hull to add to their games, the Laser was adopted and soon after production exceeded the sunfish.

If you look carefully at the shape of the Sunfish hull, and then look at just about any other conventional sailboat hull, you will notice the Sunfish is a bit wierd looking. She has what is called a "Cod's head and Mackarel tail" hull shape, which basically means it has a bump up front and a flat skinny run to the stern. This is one type of hybrid (semi-displacement) type of hull shape which if driven hard, the hull will climb up on a plane and go much faster than hull speed. I have done it in the sunfish that I owned, its really neat -- as you start to press hard you can feel the hull build it's bow wave and the effort in pushing it, and then after you apply enough force, the bow will rise above the wave as if mother nature had been holding onto her stern and just let go. Right after you transition that point, the hull will sort of skim over the water and you can even see the spray that was coming from the bow, move further back to the point of the forward hump.

The PDRacer also has a hybrid hull shape and hard chines like the Sunfish does, and both of them sail faster and generally benefit from being sailed "flat", as in keeping the boat upright as much as possible, and paying attention to fore & aft weight placement of the skipper to balance the hull properly in the water. There is an entire book about this subject called "Sail It Flat" which is included in the Sunfish Bible.

Sunfish uses a very simple lateen sail (in the South sometimes called lanteen sail) which many PDRacers also use, and is one of the best performing sails on a duck. Since the Sunfish lacks most of the conventional controls, the book has all sorts of tips like tighten here, loosen there, use a little piece of line between this gromet and that one to shape the sail in specific ways for taking advantage of various wind conditions. All of those tips directly apply to the duck, not only to lateen sails, but also to other types of sails that we use.

The Sunfish Bible also has within it the complete book Successful Sunfish Racing, which covers strategies, manuvering through the pack, taking advantage of wind changes etc.
The Sunfish Bible at Amazon

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