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17th Sept 2011: My first trapeze experience and 3 capsizes and 2 turtles

Winds were around 15knots, gusting to around 24 knots. It wasn't a race day, so a good opportunity to try out the gennaker in higher winds than I've been out in for a while. Also a good chance to get the trapeze 'nappy' on and see how it goes...and at least if we go in, we won't lose a position!

Gennaker running

Dad has got the packing of the Gennaker down to a fine art, so read up on his section on the gennaker! Launching in the higher winds meant it was pretty important to head downwind at the point of launch, then turn slightly into the wind to show some wind to the gennaker to inflate, then away we go! It was good fun until I decided that a gybe would be needed! Lesson of the day for me was when gybing with the gennaker in high winds, pull the main sheets across from close to the boom. This takes the stress off of the boat in the gybe, but more importantly you don't have to turn as far to get your sails to swing across- what I found was that if I didn't aid the gybe I was having to turn quite far in order to get the main sail to swing across; the down side of this was that by the time I had turned this far the gennaker had inflated and was dragging the boat around further and down! Sometimes you can get away with this by just correcting after the gybe point, but in the stronger winds, aiding the sails swing across the boat is a much safer way to go. Needless to say this accounted for perhaps 2 of the capsizes.

Trapeze fun!

We've had the trapeze for two seasons now but I've not used it until today! If you've not got one- get one! It was awesome. What would have been good fun in the high winds was fantastic fun. Climbing out and extending all the way out from the boat made boat balancing more exciting than it was before!

There are a few things to consider when trapezing: tension on the wire when extending, tension when sitting in the boat and how the unhook is going to work in a capsize! This is what I learnt today:

  • Once hooked on sit on the bench and give slight tension on the wire. This should still enable enough stretch to unhook with ease, but should give just enough tension to move to the side of the boat without it unhooking itself.
  • In high winds it is best to leave the tension fairly loose as this will enable you to extend further from the boat. Although I would add that it is quite simple to tighten the wire even when extended (harder to loosen it with much control)
  • I am right footed so my technique on either side of the boat meant that I would plant my right foot on the lip where the centreboard is, then put my left foot on the side, then finally bring my right foot up to the side and sit in a crouch ready to extend as necessary. In theory I should change the foot I push off with, but my legs just don't want to do that...odd!
  • Once up, make sure that your front foot is firm, with your back leg slightly bent; this will give you control over which direction you will swing in (if you don't do this you will swing out to the front of the boat, which Dad assures me isn't a pleasant experience)!
  • Be quick! If the wind suddenly drops let the swing of the trapeze take you back in- at this point if you have tightened the trapeze you will need to immediately loosen it otherwise you will struggle to get back to the middle off the boat if required. I spent a good deal of time just adjusting to the tension to allow for hiking out, then being back in the centre of the boat.
  • If the helm shouts "Ready about"- you want to make damn sure that you have unhooked before you say yes! It can be a bit of a bind if you're hooked on to one side of the boat and you need to be on the other side!
  • If the boat is going to capsize, get the hoook off ASAP!!! If you remained hooked you'll get pulled on to the boom or there abouts and you'll almost certainly be under tension and that could make it difficult to unhook. Our 'nappy' isn't a quick release so for that reason it's more important. Also if your boat is going to turtle the last thing you want is to be hooked onto the boat.
  • As the helm, keeping the power up is a new challenge- gusts and stronger winds that woould usually invove spilling wind to remain flat no longer need the main to be let out.

Great fun! As I say, if you haven't got a trapeze you don't know what you're missing out on- also the amount of power you can keep up is fantastic!! I should point out it was my Dad's nappy I was wearing, but I shall be getting one of my own!!