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Re: Cam or Clam Cleats, re: Jib sheets
On a smaller boat, below about 30', I think most serious sail trimmers would prefer clam cleats - not the cheap plastic ones that wear out quickly, but the aluminum ones. A serious sail trimmer is constantly re-trimming the jib in the puffs and lulls. What is important to him is that it be easy to cleat and uncleat the line.
If you have cam cleats, you have to lay the line on top of the cleat and pull it back far enough to open the jaws so that they can grip the line. When the line is under a heavy load, such as on a very gusty day, it becomes difficult to pull it that extra little amount, to get it to open the jaws of the cleat. With a clam cleat, all you have to do is lay the line in the Vee of the cleat, and it will grip the line. Likewise, when you want to release the sheet from a cam cleat, you have to first pull in on the line a bit, in order to open the jaws of the cleat. Then they will release their grip on the line, and you can lift it out of the cleat and then you can adjust the sheet. With a clam cleat, all you need to do to release it is to lift it out of the Vee. These are small differences, but when you do them over and over during a race, a hundred or more times, it matters a great deal that you can do them easily. The advantage of clam cleats is also their disadvantage. Because they are so easy to cleat and uncleat, they can occasionally become uncleated accidentally, just by bumping the line, but you quickly learn how to avoid such things, and, since the line is constantly being attended while racing, it just isn't a problem. On my 25' boat, I used mine for both racing and cruising, and almost never had them release unintentionally, after I learned how to avoid it happening.
My 35' boat has cam cleats and jam cleats. I usually use the jam cleats when singlehanding, because I don't adjust the sail trim nearly as often, but when I do, it is easy to just wrap the line around the jam cleat and, with a slight tug, the line is held securely. Likewise, another small tug will release the line. I wouldn't like jam cleats very much for serious racing, because wrapping and unwrapping the line around the cleat a hundred or so times during a race would require too much motion, and would be inefficient.
I'm trying hard to think of a use for which cam cleats would be more efficient, but nothing comes to mind at the moment. I'm not a fan of cam cleats.
Last edited by Sailormon6; 03-12-2014 at 06:09 PM.