|The name ALCORT derived from the nick names of it's founders, Alex Bryan and Cortland Heyniger, both of Waterbury, Connecticut. They started in around 1941 building and selling SKEETER class iceboats. To provide year round work they decided to design and build a sailboat. This became the SAILFISH. (One story is that it was originally intended as a rescue surfboard for lifeguards, but did not achieve Red Cross approval.) |
Production began about June of 1945 for both kits and completed boats. After the boat was featured in a 'Life' Magazine article, production increased from a few boats a year to a point where a factory was needed to keep up with the orders. Neither the SAILFISH, or the later SUPER SAILFISH had a cockpit which was the impetus for the SUNFISH design and development. It was the company’s first employee, Carl Meinert, who drew his idea for the SUNFISH on the shop floor and a cockpit was added. The sails, transom, rudder and spars were the same as those made for the SUPER SAILFISH.
By 1958 Alcort had out grown it's third plant, so a new plant was built to their own specifications. At this time, the hulls were still made of wood. In 1959 Joe Schmit of Naugatuck Chemical Company convinced Alcort to try fiberglass. The SUPER SAILFISH was produced in fiberglass in 1959 and the SUNFISH manufacturing process was changed over to fiberglass in 1960. The SAILFISH was phased out in 1962, and the SUPER SAILFISH a few years later. Alcort stopped selling kits in the mid-60s.
By 1982 over 200,000 SUNFISH had been sold. Despite the numbers, producing a single Sunfish hull was a labor intensive task. All the layup in the female mold was done by hand. Chopper guns were never used. By 1969 Alcort was overwhelmed by the ever increasing demand and the company was sold to AMF. Licenses were granted for construction in Holland, Canada, Chile and Uraguay. Vanguard took over the SUNFISH from AMF for several years. As of 2012, the SUNFISH was still in production.