Side Cleat Debate

Following discussion at the 2021 AGM, Pete Coop (Comet 610, Winsford Flash Sailing Club) has sought the Association Committee’s support for the following proposal to conduct a trial of a mainsheet jamming cleat mounted on each side deck of Comets rigged with a centre main.

Pete Coop’s Proposal

Background

The Comet dinghy has a loyal following and has adopted various changes to modernize the boat in the last 10 years e.g., the white Xtra sail etc.

This has kept the boat modern, fresh and relevant to the ever-growing market of singlehanded sailing.

The majority of single handers have now moved to centre main with side jammer options. Many of our junior sailors are experiencing dinghies with this set up and some of them (one day), will be the next generation of Comet sailors.

As the demographic of the Comet is mainly the older generation anything that offers an option of more comfort, and less strain will be attractive to some sailors.

Benefits

  1. On a longer beat in stronger winds it gives the helm some respite – 2 sailors have already given me feedback that they have mild arthritis and would welcome this option. Some of our WFSC  lady helms have said they also find it very tiring on the arms.
  2. Cleating the main for short periods allows you to adjust the kicker, outhaul and downhaul.
  3. Gybing – before each gybe you can transfer the mainsheet over and cleat it – this means that when you complete the gybe the main is where you need it to be. This technique also prevents the main flying out of your hand and extending to its full range on a windy gybe. If the main were to go out fully it could result in a capsize.

Downside

  1. If you move forward (beyond the 90 degree line from the ratchet block) you will be sat on a cleat – not the most comfortable experience.
  2. For those who wanted to adopt this option – there would be an approx. cost of £50.00 (2 cleats, 2 self-tappers and some epoxy)
  3. If the winds were very shifty it would not be advisable to cleat the main – you could get caught with an adverse gust or big shift which would potentially cause a capsize.
  4. Should the trial result in cleats not being accepted by the class the deck cleats would need to be removed and holes filled with epoxy then gelcoat in order to make your boat class compliant.

Andy having seen, listened to and considered the proposal has provided the following responce.

Technically speaking, the position for them is bound to be a compromise but we agree they should be positioned square with the dinghy at the front end of the non-slip area (see photo). As for fixing, we think they will be ok with self-tapper screws of the right type and drill size, but I discovered a clever rubber plug with a threaded insert which also looks good. Obviously, if your Comet has a hatch, large washers and nuts should be used.

Cost-wise, our suppliers are already warning of big rises for next year but for the Allen cleats with the necessary wedges and fixings the cost would be about £60.

Sticking with centre mainsheet, I would like to try a swivelling jammer as an option on new Comets, this would also require a rule change.

I’ve looked at a few different types and found only one which looks suitable. This one is from Selden and uses an arm that is adjustable for angle up and down which is quite critical in a small dinghy. These require a bracket to fit them to a Comet which will be black anodized. (Not bare as in the photo). These are going to be quite pricey, £150 + without the ratchet block, £210 + with. On a new Comet with the new rig, I have to compete with the looks and spec of new dinghies like the Streaker, Lightning, Solo and even RS Aero, but still offer good value for money, so this addition would help.

Changing tack to rear mainsheet, I had always considered a cleat on the mainsheet block to be the preserve of a cruising Wayfarer, but I have investigated different blocks and actual sailing trials might start early next year. It’s critical that the mainsheet doesn’t jam accidently but playing around with a rigged-up Comet here at work it looked half promising.

As I’ve mentioned before automatic ratchet blocks with a becket aren’t made anymore so new Comets have the ratchet block on the boom so this is what you would have to do if you wanted a cleat on the lower block.

The Trial

The Association Committee has voted in favour of the trial of side deck jamming cleats going ahead, as laid out in the above proposal, with the following conditions:-

  1. The trial will be open to any owner of a Centre Main Comet to join.
  2. Dispensation will be given to anyone participating in the trial to sail a Comet which, in respect to these jamming cleats, does not comply with the Class Measurement Rules, in any event in the CCA calendar (Open Meeting, Championships) from the start of next season (2022) up to the end of the National Championships.
  3. Anyone wishing to participate must submit their name and sail number to the Association Secretary, Liz Hossell (secretary@cometsailing.org.uk) and they must contact the Comet builder, Andy Simmons, for instructions about installing the cleats on their side decks in order to comply with the corresponding changes to the measurement rules should the motion mentioned in part 5 below be passed.
  4. All those participating in the trial are asked to provide feedback on their experiences of sailing with the jamming cleats; by completing the questionaire returned to them upon registration . This should be returned to the NewsEditor (newseditor@cometsailing.org.uk) who will transfer the data to the website before the 31st of July.
  5. Pete Coop will agree with Andy Simmons the exact details of the motion and changes to the Class Measurement Rules to accommodate these side deck jamming cleats and he will submit this motion by the 31st July 2022 in time for it to be included in the agenda for the 2022 AGM.
  6. If the motion is defeated at the AGM, then the cleats must be removed immediately after the end of the National Championships.

It is stressed that any member can participate in the trial which will last from the start of next season up to the end of the National Championships, but it must be understood that if their cleats are not installed according to Andy Simmons’ specification and the installation does not comply with the proposed changes to the measurement rules, then they will be required to alter the installation if the motion is passed at the 2022 AGM.

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