Sunfish History

General Information about the history of the Sunfish Sailboat.

  1. Bradley
    In the 1940s, Cortlandt Heyniger and Alex Byran created a company. They used their names to form Alcort, the company name.

    Alcort's first sailboat was the Sailfish. Introduced in 1945 according to The Sunfish Bible by Will White, it was similar to a large wooden surfboard with a sail, a rudder and a daggerboard. It was available in either finished or kit form.

    Carl Meinelt - one of Alcort's first employees - created the classic shape of the Sunfish in 1951 as a wooden kit boat. By 1959, hulls were being commercially produced in molded fiberglass composite. Over the years, rights to produce Sunfish have been held successively by Alcort, Inc. (1951-1969), AMF/Alcort division (1969-1986), Alcort Sailboats, Inc.*, (1986-1988), Pearson Sailing Yachts (1988-1991), Sunfish/Laser, Inc. (1991-1997), Vanguard (1997-2007), and LaserPerformance (2007-Present).
    • Alcort Sailboats, Inc. was not affiliated with the founding company, Alcort, Inc.
    The class became popular for racing in the 1960s and 1970s. A Class Association was established by AMF/Alcort in 1969 and it became the International Sunfish Class Association (ISCA) in 1984 with official recognition by the International Yacht Racing Union (now the International Sailing Federation).

    Rudder Change
    The boat changed in 1972 with the change to the current rudder attachment, switching to a design that would not release under sailing strain. This change identifies more modern boats.

    Manufacturer History

    For a look at the history of Sunfish Manufacturers and models open this PDF.