boats & equipment
The sunbird is a first generation mixed ability boat. Used by people like Mike Parkin, Terry Willett, Ken James, Steve Gregg, Ian Harrison and others who were responsible for the formation of Sailability in the late eighties, the forerunner of RYA Sailability.
The Sunbird was born in the industrial North East of England a craft which is eminently suitable for use by the novice but with exciting racing performance ideal for competition. Conceived originally by industrialist Peter Heron, the design was taken on by Peter Atkinson and George Mitchell at the Newcastle upon Tyneâ€™s Department of Naval Architecture. Fitted originally with foot pedal steering, it was easy to convert to hand control by routing control cables through turning blocks to a tiller mounted on the aft end of the keel box. If foot pedals are fitted, the boat is ideal for use by upper limb amputees or sailors with limited arm movement. Mk I and II versions were made but with only slight differences, some models were fitted out with tubes for spinnaker use and this was rigged using twin poles stowed alongside the boom when not in use. The keel consists of a lead filled â€˜torpedoâ€™ at the bottom of a steel or GRP fin. This is lowered by a full length screw turned by a standard winch handle. The ability to lift the keel enables the boat to be launched in relatively shallow water. Full and half â€˜skirtsâ€™ can be fitted to the cockpit coaming, helping prevent the ingress of water when sailed in heavy weather or excessively heeled. Originally manufactured by Belway Marine it is no longer in production, however the moulds are held by Steve Sawford Marine and it would be possible to revive the class if there was a revival of the class.