After hearing fellow Team Rooster member Russell Clark’s feedback on the imminent Rooster trapeze harness following our Musto Skiff training at Palma last year I finally got my hands on one last weekend to take it for a test sail from Stokes Bay. Naturally conditions for our relative tests were completely different. Russ in Palma...myself in Solent chop, generally 7 – 15 knots (with a disconcerting 20 minute spell gusting up to 37 knots complete with rain, thunder and lightening). Having trapezed off a door in the office it was decided that the best strap combination was to attach the upper support strap to the leg buckle leaving the hip strap independent. With this arrangement it was possible to provide sufficient support to the upper body without cutting off the blood supply to the legs, whilst keeping the spreader bar straps tight for a snug fit.
Sailing upwind the harness felt incredibly stable through the spreader bar when flat wiring. With the additional support provided by the upper body straps it almost felt like you could do without the shoulder straps (although this theory is yet to be tested!) and as a result I felt confident working the boat through the chop and gusts, and retained the flexibility necessary for tacks, gybes, hoists and drops which was great as I was slightly worried I might lose some of the freedom of the nappy harness. Downwind equally so, with the harness providing excellent support flat wiring and also when ‘sitting up’ to get some weight off the wire, have a look around or when popping in to adjust controls. After an hours sailing I had a quick break to tighten the straps which had stretched slightly and tucked them back into the retaining pockets which kept things neat and tidy. As with all harnesses it would be worth investing in a Race Bib
to prevent the embarrassing situation of tiller extensions inserting themselves inside shoulder straps or bouyancy aids.
So...all pretty positive. Another little feature available that I did’nt actually feel I needed are small pads to provide comfort to those of us with more bony hips. Thanks to James McIntosh for being the ideal training partner for the day and further strengthening the quality of the Stokes Bay Musto Skiff fleet to the extent that another anonymous Team Rooster member was recently heard to comment "...I can't even win a club race anymore!"