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trapeze harness

bad dog

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Don't think you can legally combine a harness and PFD.

I have owned the following.

Gill (with quick release) - Very comfortable with a great range of back movement from side to side. Have had one quick release unit fail though.

Magic Marine (without quick release) - Comfortable but not quite the same freedom of movement down low. Still good though.

I have now put my Magic Marine spreader bar without the quick release on my Gill harness and love it.

Ronstan are now distributing harnesses that are identical to Magic Marine (without quick release) but with Ronstan logos on them. Saw them at the boat show and I beleive they were a little cheaper.

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Following the ISAF Annual Conference in Singapore there has been a change to the ISAF Racing Rules of Sailing 2005-2008, meaning Rule 40.2 relating to quick release trapeze harnesses will not take effect until 1 January 2009.

The change approved by the ISAF Council on 12 November in Singapore is as follows. 40.2 A trapeze or hiking harness shall have a device that can quickly release the competitor from the boat at any time while in use.

Note: This rule takes effect on 1 January 2009.

This change to Rule 40.2 will apply immediately and effectively means that Rule 40.2 will not take effect before the new edition of the Racing Rules of Sailing (2009-2012) will be published.

ISAF continues to work on safety improvements and will publish further information about safety issues in January 2006 on www.sailing.org.

Bloody hell three years came around fast!

[This message has been edited by HooD (edited 17 September 2008).]

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When flag Y is displayed with one sound before or with the warning signal, competitors shall wear personal flotation devices, except

briefly while changing or adjusting clothing or personal equipment. Wet suits and dry suits are not personal flotation devices.

40.2 never made it into the 2009 RRS.

quick release are not mandatory but still not a bad idea.

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Quick release can mean accidental release too.... this is the debate that has been going on with ISAF.

Myself and quiet a few other sailors I know have had these units fail or release, resulting in man overboard, boat breakages and sometimes complete seperation from the boat. I will never use a quick release system again. The risk they pose to sailors far outweights the benifits. i believe a good knife is more important. Strap one on the underside of your rear beam and one on your harness.

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This changed my mind a while ago.

to date, I have been on magic marine and gill QR systems without issue. (3+ years)

A safer trapeze harness

Five years ago, I flew into Helsinki, Finland for a meeting which coincided with the running of the 49er European Championship. On my arrival at the airport, I was met by an utterly distraught young woman named Lotta. We drove straight to the hospital to find my friend, Magnus, on oxygen. Miraculously, he was OK given the ordeal he had just been through.

Lotta and Magnus had been sailing my boat in the European's; the wind was very fluky but they were having fun. One particular gust seemed to disappear but then hit them unexpectedly. After almost rolling to windward and re-gaining their footing, they capsized to leeward. Lotta was thrown beyond the jib and Magnus found himself lying across the shrouds. Apparently they laughed a bit about it as the boat did what most boats do when there is a large weight on the shrouds and started to 'turn turtle'. This was nothing out of the ordinary but what neither of them knew was that Magnus's hook was around the shrouds and as the boat rolled very slowly, the hook slid down the wire until it was too late. Magnus could not get un-hooked and was pulled under the water.

Lotta struggled unsuccessfully to keep his head above water and to untangle the hook. Gradually Magnus began to close down. If not for the quick thinking of some Spanish sailors who literally reefed him out followed by some diligent resuscitation work by Lotta and the Spanish, who were able to kick start him again, this tale would have had a tragic ending. Magnus survived, for all intents and purposes, unscathed by his ordeal and is still actively involved in the sport of sailing both on 49ers and America's Cup yachts.

We have all had near escapes and sailing is probably one of the safer sports, but it was the visible impact of that event on Lotta that kick started me into trying to 'build a better mouse trap.'

Less than a week later I was in Canada with Ian Bruce, one of the more progressive minds of our sport and between us we brainstormed a whole series of options. Within two months I had discarded all but 5 of those ideas and had gone about building working prototypes of the better ones. Within six months I had narrowed it down to one unit that was based on a pull pin, quick release system where, if you got into trouble, you reached down, yanked a string and the whole hook simply came away from the harness.

That unit was used for about a year and worked faultlessly both in simulated operation and also in race practice. It was used in the very first 29er Worlds in Italy, and also in the demanding arena of Eighteens and 49ers. I felt that it fulfilled all the requirements and was a product that could be taken further. By incorporating another couple of ideas to get in and out of the harness and

modifying it so that, if you were in trouble, you hit one of three purpose-made alloy extrusions in a particular manner, not only would the hook come off, the whole buckle would come apart and you would simply step out of the entire belt. Dies where ordered and a provisional patent process started.

Then, fortuitously, I loaned the harness to a friend. It came back a week later with the entire mechanism taped up to render it completely inoperative! In much the same way some sailors tape up their hobbles on a Soling, even though it is a patently stupid thing to do, this sailor had rendered the whole purpose of the buckle completely pointless. It was back to the drawing board!

Pinning down the evolution of the keyball system is more difficult but it developed quite quickly feeding off the design of the previous 'pull pin system', although it is obviously fundamentally different. The first buckles were made from a rough mould in chop strand matt and the ball was simply on a loose bit of line. The refinements from there to the present design have come about

in real-life sailing conditions. I have learned not to do the testing myself as I tend to accommodate the imperfections, especially in my own designs! Other sailors can be far more critical of something that is 'not quite right'. Certainly Tai Elliott has been, by far, the most long-suffering test pilot.

The system has now been in operation for well over two years. Although it has evolved and there have been refinements, the purity of the original concept is such that the original carbon buckle, which was made in South Africa 18 months ago, is still being used. The defining point was in May 2001 when I took one of the original carbon buckles around the world, showing the idea to people in Italy, Switzerland, Germany, France and ending up in Canada with Ian. The system has now been in the patent process for over 2 years.

Unfortunately we are seeing a rash of accidents in which a conventional harness is in some way implicated. In Australia it was a sailor who drowned in Adelaide. Last year we had three serious accidents, unfortunately one of which ended in a fatality when the trapeze hook snagged and the sailor did not survive. This year we have had the Tornado sailor in Spain, the Topaz sailor in Hong Kong and the very unfortunate young English girl sailing a Laser 4000 - all very tragic

accidents where trapeze hooks have done exactly what they are designed to do, hook on and hang on.

It is impossible for anyone to suggest that any system is fool proof but it is fair to say that if you dramatically reduce the likelihood and the opportunity of becoming snared or entangled, then the risk is reduced. The keyball system

attempts to do this.

While the hook is the obvious culprit, large buckles and other protrusions on the harness pose almost the same threat. Other than the quick-release sash buckle on the chest to fasten the harness, there are no buckles on the sides or on the legs to snag or foul lines in tacks or while swimming around in the water. The buckle itself replaces the traditional hook with a smooth mound that is designed to be hard to snag with anything other than the keyball. If a rope happens

to get in there, all the wedges face outwards so there is nothing stopping the rope or anything other than the specific Keyball from disengaging.

Sailing is, on the whole, a healthy and relatively safe sport and the old adage that 'the worst that can happen to you is you get wet' is not far from the truth. Skiff sailors have been sailing some of the most potentially dangerous boats for years and, yes, there have been ensnarements and plenty of close calls. But skiff sailors have routinely taken considerable care when dressing for a race and in the preparation of their boats.

You never see a skiff sailor with buckles hanging off trapeze belts, as the belt of choice is affectionately called a 'tailor made nappy' and is made to fit the individual and has no adjustments. They wear Lycra tops over everything including the harness, and never wear boots with laces. Also ropes are always as short as practical and, in most cases, have shock cord or bungee returns pulling them out of the way or keeping them tight and neat.

It is hoped that the Keyball system will also become another facet of the way we all prepare ourselves to enjoy our sport as safely as possible and to minimize the risk of tragic accidents.

The Bethwaite Trapeze Harness is now in production and will be represented around the world by the following licensees.

Bethwaite Design, Australia, www.bethwaite.com

Performance Sailcraft 2000 Inc, North America, www.ps2000.ca

Ovington Boats, UK, www.ovingtonboats.co.uk

Takao Otani, Japan Asia, otani@cityfujisawa.ne.jp

Corsin Camenisch, Switzerland, corsin.camenisch@guma.ch

Joe Chan, China, joenmaria@i-cable.com

Brian Lion-Cachet, South Africa, blion@iafrica.com

Martin Billoch in South America, mabilloch@hotmail.com

by Julian Bethwaite 9:45 PM Tue 27 Aug 2002 GMT

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Thanks for that detailed explanation. When will the harness be on your webshop?

I'm also intrigued that it is apparently illegal under ISAF rules to have bouyancy combined with a harness - what is the logic behind this? - especially if there is no hook to foul on shrouds etc?


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