|Everyone has seen this picture. |
Nobody knows that it's part of a collection.
There are a lot of places on the web, and in books about Sunfish rigging, racing and repair. But nowhere on the web is there any information about how a Sunfish is actually made. A couple of years ago, LaserPerformance opened up their factory in Portsmouth, Rhode Island for tours. The photo above was taken on that tour and has been making the rounds on the web for years. The dirty little secret is that it has a bunch of siblings that have never seen the light of day and it's time they saw the light.
|The LaserPerformance sales office. |
You can see Sunfish stacked against the window on the right.
The factory floor is large enough to accomodate multiple boat lines simultaneously. The day of the tour, the Sunfish, and Laser production lines were active and boats in various stages of construction occupied places on the production line.
|Empty Sunfish hull mold |
Sunfish construction takes place on two parallel production lines. The first is for the deck and the second is for the hull. The production lines merge at the end, where the deck is joined to the hull. The molds are held in large steel frames that make it easy to move the components around the factory floor and to join the two halves together .
Sunfish are built from the outside in. The deck stripes and decals are applied first, before there is even any fiberglass to attach them to. Then the primary gelcoat is applied.
|When building a Sunfish, |
always remember to paint it first,
then add the fiberglass!
|The mast step at this point is only a plug that is used to|
align the deck and the hull.
|Cockpits awaiting installation.|
|Notice that there is no drain plug hole in the cockpit. That comes later.|
Meanwhile, the hull is going through its own building process. Once the fiberglass base is laid into the mold, extra fiberglass mat is added in the locations where the cockpit will contact the hull, and the daggerboard trunk and mast step are added.
The addition of extra mat is a relatively new feature. Older Sunfish do not have that padding.
|Extra mat to protect the hull from abrasion by the cockpit|
The last part of the hull structure to be added are the styrofoam blocks which add buoyancy and stability to the hull. The foam blocks are held in place with a jig until they are secured with expanding foam.
|Foam blocks held in place by a jig|
while expanding foam is applied to
hold them in place
|The world famous Sunfish innards picture |
of the finished hull waiting to be joined to the deck!
|A flipped Sunfish deck mold |
next to the boat that shall not be named.
|The finished hull awaiting deck fittings.|
|A finished Sunfish next to one that is fresh off the assembly line.|
|A finished Sunfish in the showroom awaiting a skipper|
|Finished Sunfish in their natural environment.|