Dear Sunfish Sailors,
The World Council met on Wednesday October 21st, 2009 to discuss a long agenda that
included, among other issues, the project of the new rudder developed by Tom
The World Council members appreciate the time and efforts Tom has put into this project
for several years, driven by the belief that it would help to make the Sunfish Class more
attractive, particularly for the youth, complementing the current Class’s strategies.
A discussion forum and a survey were authorized by the Class to understand how clear
the members were about this idea and how many were supporting it. The results showed
that only 23% of the total ISCA members replied the survey, which was felt to be a very
small sample to consider, and reflecting low interest and/or no understanding of this
project by the membership. Further, only 13% of the total ISCA members replied in favor
of the new blade (they were 55% of the sample but a very small portion of the whole
membership) which is a small number to make such a big change.
It is a fact that only a few sailors actually had the chance to test the rudder, so the WC
members believe almost all of the members replied the survey based on theory or the
opinions from those that are in favor or against the new blade.
The following points were discussed and debated by the WC and as a result of the
discussion, the sense of the WC was that there are a number of counter productive flaws
in moving forward with either the modification of the current rudder or to permit a new
1. Whether the new blade is approved, or the rule is changed to permit the current
rudder to be made more vertical, the class will be less One Design as a result.
2. This change may generate division, ambiguity, diversion and anxiety to the
members, in moments where unification is a key element.
3. The One-Design status of the Class will be at risk and also ISAF may object the
change, questioning our judgment.
4. The Class is getting stronger at the international level, especially with new
5. The US seems to be experiencing a decrease in membership primarily due to
aging of its members who are staying active in racing.
6. The US Sailing and the majority of the Yacht Clubs in the US are focusing their
strategies on preparing young sailors for the Olympic Classes. The WC does not
believe they will support the Sunfish Class just for having a new rudder and
conversely the perception or actual sense of being less one-design would make
marketing of the Class worse. The WC believes the Class needs to experiment
with other approaches to allow the sailing community to realize that the majority
of the young sailors do not meet the profile required for the Olympics and much
talent and enthusiasm is being left behind or lost in the “top down” or result
oriented approach. The WC favors the traditions and strengths of the Sunfish
Class and supports the process oriented approach currently envisioned by the
7. Brent Richards said Laser Performance would continue delivering all the boats
with the current rudder and the new “racing rudder” would have to be bought in
addition to the current rudder. They would have to study if the “Pro” version of
the boat can be delivered with the new racing version of the rudder.
8. Regarding modification or the alternate idea of making holes to the current rudder
in a different position, Brent Richards, from Laser Performance, warned it would
void the warranty. Also, they would need to carefully study the structural effects
of the new positioning of the holes before changing the mold and/or developing a
solution to facilitate the making of the new holes in the current rudders for the
9. Brent Richards said Laser Performance will not invest any time or resources to
calculate costs or experiment with prototypes unless the Class formally decides to
go ahead with this project.
10. The Class would have to negotiate with Laser Performance to get the best
possible deal, but there is no way to anticipate the results.
Based on all the above, the WC decided that the process of changing our current rudder is
not recommended to continue so as to not to risk the unification of the Class and divert
our energies in that direction anymore and recommends to concentrate on implementing
strategies to market the Sunfish Class with our current boat as it is.
Let’s highlight the reasons we have to feel proud of our boat, our people and our
On behalf of the World Council,