I crewed on a friend's 37 foot J boat for years, but got away from racing after a back injury had me laid up for several seasons. I'm recovered, and started crewing again a couple of weeks ago (but I'm a lot more careful and sensitive about the potential for re-injury. On the first sail this season, it was obvious that the ergonomics of the main traveler set up are a challenge for me. Here are a couple of photos to illustrate the set up.
It's a 3:1 purchase which is on the heavy side. It's manageable for cruising, but challenging for racing. The main issue is getting the line into the cam cleat quickly while trimming the traveler after tacking. Because the crew member's body is well above the deck, the line naturally lifts up away from the cam cleat, while trimming. The problem is it's difficult to get the line into the cam under load once the traveler is trimmed going to windward. In order to secure the line after a tack, the trimmer must draw the line down through the cam cleat at an angle that is essentially parallel with the deck, which requires extending your forearms down to the deck, or bringing your body down very close to the deck keeping your arms close to your body to minimize the leverage you are working against.
I'm not the strongest crew that ever sailed, but I'm not a 98 lb. weakling either. (windsurfing and indoor rowing keep my upper body reasonably fit.) I'm looking for cost effective (read inexpensive
) ideas to improve this set up.
I was wondering if it is possible to flip the plate on which the cam cleat is mounted from facing up, to facing down and mounting the plate that holds the cam cleat on the top of the control block instead of underneath it? I'm thinking that would help because, when the traveler is trimmed, it would be pulling the line up into the cam cleat instead of away from the cam's jaws. Has anyone done something like this? I did see the other active thread here about frozen screws on a traveler, and I'm concerned about that also. This is a late 80's boat, and iI suspect it won't be that easy to disassemble the hardware. Would a remote cam cleat be a much simpler solution?
Or maybe someone can recommend a better technique to trim the traveler that I should be aware off?
I did find this on Harken's on-line compu-spec. The image below is one of their recommendations for this boat, which can be set up for 5:1 or 6:1 purchase, but is otherwise similar to what is installed on the boat now.
But it doesn't meet my "cost effective" criterion at $557 list price (per side)
P.S. Just for the record, my back injury flared up at the office during the off-season, not on the boat.