Any top racer will tell you that just one boat length could make as many as 5 places difference in a race. 1 point let alone 5 could make the difference between winning and losing, whether that be your local club series or the National Championships you have been training all year for. When sailing Toppers one of my biggest annoyances was people who let their painters drag in the water (for safety reason the Topper Class rules state that boats must have a painter). Why would you do it!!! Throughout the fleet I saw sailors throwing away places as a result of carelessness. A more conscientious sailor might have wrapped it around their mast a few times, however this is perhaps even worse as it stops the mast rotating properly which ruins your sail shape and, depending on how it was secured, breaks the class rules. As a result of these problems the need for a better system arose. Although I cannot take full credit for the conception of the idea, I have spent quite some time refining my own system.
To the uninformed eye the system seems like witchcraft however the concept is in fact quite simple, once you get your head round it. The system has 3 parts to it: the painter, the elastic take up and the locking shackles. As shown in the video when you pull the painter out all the way the two shackles interlock which stops the painter going back out. This is what makes the painter class legal as it means, for example, you would be able to pass the painter to the safety boat without it retracting. Once the two shackles are released the painter retracts and is stored neatly on the deck. The system is not too difficult to make yourself however it may require some experimentation. It passed measurement at this years Worlds however this does not guarantee it will pass for you.
- To create the painter take a length of line that is AT LEAST 1500mm long plus a bit extra for the loop (better to be on the safe side) and 6mm in diameter and put it through the bow eye, securing on the underside with an overhand knot.
- Tie 3 loops through the same hole in 2mm dyneema. It will be a tight fit so a wire splicing fid can help to pull the parts through. The first loop (port side) should be the longest - this to clip the dagger board elastic on to. The second loop (middle) should be reasonably short to hold the larger shackle close to the bow however long enough that you can cow splice it to the shackle (this makes the shackle more stable rather than just once piece of line). The third loop (starboard) is where the shock cord will attach to. I have kept mine short for neatness.
- Select your shackles for the locking mechanism. I have found 6mm and 4mm to be a good combination however you may need to play around with sizes a little. The shackles should be forged to reduce friction. Cow splice the larger of the two shackle to the middle loop we created earlier via the pin of the shackle.
- Take a piece of shock cord and attach it to starboard hand loop we created earlier. I whipped the elastic for neatness but a bowline would do the job.
- For this step you need a block for the elastic to turn through. I have tried with a plastic ring however this had too much friction. I just used an old block from my tool box however I would recommend a light soft attach block such as the Ronstan Orbit 20. Use a length of dyneema to fasten one end to the block and then put the other end under the toe strap clamp. Then take the shock cord and pass the free end through the block.
- Fasten the free end of the shock cord to the smaller shackle via the pin.
- Take the free end of the painter and pass through the small shackle then the larger shackle and tie a bowline in the end.
Please see below for some more picture and feel free to leave any questions in comments.