The quick, colorful little surfboards with sails shown on these pages cavorting around the stormy waters of Pine Lake, Wisconsin are fast becoming America's most popular sailing craft. Wild, wet and yet wonderfully safe, they make a perfect plaything for young families who want to sail without the headaches and bent budgets of big-time racing or cruising.
The Sailfish was born in 1948 when Alex Bryan, of Waterbury, Conn., was looking around for a new product to add to his iceboat and surfboard business. Purely as an experiment, he attached a fin and rudder to one of his surfboards, hoisted an old canoe sail on a handy pole, and shoved off. This was the beginning of the Sailfish. Now, 10 years later, there are 9,000 Sailfish scattered across the world, from the U.S. Pavilion at the Brussels Fair to the shores of Burma, where the Burmese navy just took delivery on an order of five.
Everyone who tries the Sailfish seems to like it, for a variety of good reasons. First, it is about the cheapest sailing craft on the market—$168 for a plywood kit to $392 for a finished fiberglass model. Second, it can be stored in the cellar and hauled around on the top of a station wagon. Third, it is unsinkable. And, finally, as the pictures on the following pages show, the Sailfish provides as much pure excitement and plain sailing fun as any boat 10 times the size.
Family skippers of the Pine Lake Sailfish fleet gather on the dock during short lull in their afternoon race program.
Bright sails bellying out against an ominous gray sky, rakish little Sailfisk bowl along before a rising squall as they head toward leeward marker under west shore of Wisconsin's Pine Lake
Scrambling Sailfish steered by Herb Brumder skids by capsized Pine Lake skippers Hester Holbrook (in water) and Nancy Kyle (righting her hull)