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Grapefruit SBS Competition

Remove AFTER Flight!

by John Curnow, Editor, Sail World AUS 30 Jul 2023 07:00 BST

Normally that instruction reads Remove BEFORE Flight. It's always written all in bold white capitals off a red background so you simply cannot miss or ignore it. Now I got to pondering this whole notion after looking at Vaikobi's new Quick Release Torque Trapeze Harness, and said to myself, 'this is the complete opposite of what occurs with items like the jet intake or the pitot tube'. Interesting, to say the least...

So then the question remains, just what do you need in trapeze harness, and why is this such a paradigm shift?

Supportive. You'd have to say it's the primary mission, wouldn't you?

Comfort. Not so much a subset of the first, but a mandatory consideration. After all, titanium would work, as it has high tensile strength, and it is very light. Alas it is not so pliable, and a suit of armour means you're either on a horse, or in a tank!

Durable. It has to work, and do so reliably mind you, time and time again. Sand, salt water, and massive amounts of UV just have to be shrugged off.

Design. In built, not an afterthought. Nothing protruding to catch sheets or halyards, or somebody else as you run through during a gybe. Elements you need to be handy are ergonomically placed, and all your fastenings are tight and secure, and out of mind, if not out of sight.

Safety. An important element, and maybe not so much talked about, either. If you go down the mine, or get flung off at tangential speeds, you want to be able to get out, and also help your crew if needs be.

Now, a reliable and fail proof quick release system would be the master stroke. This places performance and safety in the one package. Well, that's certainly the right plan, and Vaikobi have just made it so.

Yes. All of the above are the statements reflective of a good harness. No. A brilliant harness. So possibly the key statement in all of this is the quick release aspect. It has been done before, and maybe not so successfully.

All of which simply means the next statement just has to be - Confidence. Do all of the above, and deliver the assurance that you have a fail-proof, class defining, and incomparable product.

Time to go and talk with Pat Langley, CEO and Founder of THE boat park brand - Vaikobi - for the low down on the up, up, and away, as it were. "We feel very strongly about quick release. So much so that we decided to take it on, irrespective of what the rule makers may be doing. We're OK with becoming synonymous with the movement, and have applied all our thinking into this to deliver the best outcome for our sport. After all, we're sailors too!"

Pat and Vaikobi's Head of Design Bart Milczarczyk have a history together, and not just from back in November 2019 when Milczarczyk came to Vaikobi, either. The duo had a long history in a previous life in the same field, which Langley left in 2012 to create Vaikobi. So these two not only know each other, they know their stuff, too.

It is also part of the reason why so many highly respected names are part of the R&D process, which in this particular case includes Jim Colley, the helmer on the Shaw and Partners 18-footer.

"Over the last two years in many of the skiff classes we support we started to look at what we could do. The main criteria was that the harness had to be high performance. We looked at what was out there already, and garnered feedback from a huge number of sailors across a large number of classes across a wide range of countries as we determined what was important."

In the end, high performance really meant having confidence in your product to perform and not let you down. It also has to be comfortable, have a lot of adjustability, and be durable. Ultimately it all comes down to reliability."

"Some of the feedback we heard was that some products were failing at certain times in different areas. Not only from a quick release perspective, but just in, in the way that they functioned. We think having to worry about your harness when you're trying to do everything else in a trapezing boat is just not a great position to be in. This is what we mean when we talk about performance!"

"It's about its ability to withstand the loads and how the harness is constructed. We believe that sailors should have a proper quick release system now, and not wait a few more years until it is mandated."

There are definitely sailors out there, particularly older ones, who might have tried quick release harnesses back in the day. For various reasons they might not have worked, and the notion of a speedy extraction fell, well somewhat short. What Vaikobi wanted to do was deliver the performance sailors need, and the safety they deserve.

"I like to sleep at night, and the thought of ever producing something that is not safe is something that we just can't really contemplate", said Langley adding emphasis. Once more sailors try it, I think Vaikobi's new Quick Release Torque Trapeze Harness will become synonymous with all manner of quick boats. This is the new standard, right here!

Safety can be cool. Padding and helmets were not part of a sailors arsenal not that long ago, now look... Many an Olympic team is already looking at these harnesses, so we're probably not that far off generational change, anyway. Of course, it also helps that the stuff looks good, too, but in Vaikobi you always know that job is first, and style will be not so much second fiddle, as it is servant.

In terms of the development of the quick release system, Langley stated, "The sailing world is one big family. Everyone's almost like our own kids. If we can save lives, well then that's fantastic. That's obviously what we're here for. However, we also understand that our sport is about taking risks and being out there. It's about just making sure that everyone has at least that opportunity to be wearing a product that makes it all safer."

Certainly, the early adopters are already onto it with the French 49er skipper wearing it whilst they collected Silver at the Olympic Test Event in Marseille, and the Nacra 17 driver was also to be seen in the new Vaikobi harness, as well.

Now normally the next thing you hear after someone pulls the pin is, 'Fire in the hole!' In the case of Vaikobi's Quick Release Torque Trapeze Harness, the pin comes out and the hook drops away. Best of all, and something I really liked, is the cleaver cutting tool secreted away in a neoprene pocket on the chest strap. If you have to go the aid of someone else this could become a real bonus so very, very quickly.

"We had to come up with something that was simple and effective. We identified the pin and hook system as being a pretty good starting point and then we've re-engineered it so that it wouldn't fail unwillingly, which is the biggest concern you get from the top sailors about quick release harnesses."

"We also spent a lot of time making these harness feel really firm, and they don't feel like there's any wiggle between the hook and the spreader bar. Basically it's about making sure that this thing's only going to fire when you absolutely want it to."

And the whole thing is just under two kilos when dripping wet, so take that on. Watch the introductory video here.

Now when it comes to sailing and flying, do so on top or just above the water, and for everything else use a kerosene canary. However, should it come to pass that you are airborne for a tad whilst still tethered to your craft, then go with the new standard, which comes in the form of Vaikobi's Quick Release Torque Trapeze Harness. It'll be a lot easier to remove after flight...

Finally, it was not missed on me that it was a bit hilarious that at the same time the harness came about, Vaikobi also introduced a brilliant new durable, comfortable and supportive hikers for the low-rider craft. Accordingly, when it comes to selection time, don't just buy good, attain brilliance. It's your gig after all.

OK. There it is. There is so much more on the group's sites for you. Simply use the search field, or 'edition' pull-down menu up the top on the right of the masthead to find it all. Please enjoy your yachting, stay safe, and thanks for tuning into

John Curnow
Editor, Sail World AUS

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