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The BigFish: A Two-Person Sailboard from Island Packet By Dave Ellis


sland Packet is known for quality yachts that will take you anywhere you may wish to sail. Imagine a small sailing craft built to those high standards. The BigFish is the product of a brainstorming session by Island Packet guys in a Newport bar. The idea was to expand on the best of small boats. A BigFish was on the mantle, hence the name. And, yes, they really did draw it up


May 2005


on a napkin on the table with the drinks. The result was a craft that looks like a Sunfish on steroids. A lateen rig allows the sail to be laid on the deck, unlike the Laser. And, unlike the Sunfish, this craft easily takes two grown passengers. A 200-pounder can walk around the mast to the bow and step off onto a dock. Try that with most small boats and you will get very wet. I sailed a BigFish in Clearwater Bay on a windy March day. The first thing I noticed is that when there was a big black puff on the way, I got ready to hike out and ease the mainsail. Well, hiking helped a bit, but the boat just didn’t heel very much. Twelve roll-tacks in succession did not slow the boat. This thing has power steering compared to the Sunfish and Lasers I’ve owned. Oh, and roll-tacking was a relative maneuver. The boat didn’t roll like other dinghies. The beam, at five feet, is taken all the way out to the shear at the waterline. The stern does not have the radical pinching-in of the stern area, giving it more volume than the Sunfish. The bottom is slightly rounded, not flat, for seakindliness and strength. Don’t expect a lightweight boat from Island Packet. The hull weighs about 225 pounds. The rig is just a bit more robust than the Sunfish, and the rudder and dagger board are shaped mahogany. I capsized the boat, with some effort I must say, and was able to place my ample bulk on the board to right the boat without a noticeable bend in the board. Yes, I stayed dry in the maneuver. The cockpit scooped a bit of water, but the drain works even when the boat is not under way. This boat would be ideal for resorts that must have the colorful lateen sails on the beach, but are tired of rescuing capsized Sunfish. A significant other would be much happier with the room in the cockpit of the BigFish. Karsten Johnson is the contact. The Web site is The boats are built on a line at the Island Packet plant in Largo, Florida. (727) 535-6432.


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