Traveling can be very hard for some people and very easy for others. Some just do not get it and are too scared of the water to be able to do it properly and so either sit on the side or even worse, on the bench! Some people are a little too enthusiastic about hiking and so end up dunking their heads into the water when the boat crashes to windward or just get splashed by every passing wave. Hiking is a very important part of sailing in both very light and very strong winds.
Firstly in light winds, the lighter of the crew or helm will be hiking out to support the weight of the other for pretty much the entire race. In stronger winds, you will both be hiking out and trying to get as much power out of your mainsail by keeping the boat flat.
So anyway in both cases both of you or one of will be hiking out for the majority of the race. However hiking is uncomfortable and it requires strong abs to support you large body.
I was having problems with this, having not yet fully developed into an adult yet. Mark came up with an ingenious idea in order to hike at the same time as staying reliably comfortable. It works for both crew and helm.
- 1. Loosen the Toe Straps – In order to do this technique properly, you will have to predetermine the wind and so if it looks like it is going to be strong and you know you will be hiking for most of the race, you will have to loosen the toe straps a little.
- 2. Put Your Feet Under The Toe Straps – Now I do not know about you, but I am not very comfortable when I take the toe strap literally and put my toes under the straps. So instead put your ankle under the toe strap (the reason for loosing them)
- 3. Put Your Bum Over The Side – This looks obvious, but the way to do this technique is to act as if you are sitting. So once your ankles are under the toe straps, bend your knees and place your bum over the side and bring you body up. Your entire body should be over the side while staying comfortable.
- 4. Twist The Genoa sheet / Mainsheet Around Your Hand – I know your not meant to, but it is the only way for people with weaker abs to be able to hold their upper body up and not flop over the side. It also means you can easily pull yourself out of the position if you need to tack or you get headed.
So you are now in a position where your entire body weight is over the side whilst keeping yourself comfortable and being able to get out of it easily. You can also reach the kicker, cunningham and outhaul easily and if you are both doing the technique, the boat will be able to stay level in stronger winds whilst everyone else lets out mainsheet / increicks kicker or cunningham, thereby going faster.
Everyone should be able to do it and I thoroughly recommend it for when you are hiking out for long periods of time!