Trapeze wires are used to hang the crew weight outside of the boats rail for more righting lever. This is high performance hiking. Crews stand on the boats rail and their bodies are straight out from the boat.
A trapeze harness is worn by the crew. The harness has a hook mounted at about the crews waist. A ring or “dogbone” is hung from the trapeze wire. The dogbone normally has a line and bunjee system that allows you to set the height of the crew while trapezed. You would sit on the boat, reach up to the dogbone and pull it down to hook onto the harnes hook. The bungee system pulls back and keeps the dogbone seated on the hook. The trapeze wire has a fixed-height handle to allow the crew to hang by a hand while getting out onto the wire or lifting back onto the boat.
Hook up (that will always get you if you forget that step). I turn a bit forward and place my forward foot on the rail. I brace myself with my aft hand on the rail behind me and forward hand on the trap handle. I ease out and over the rail till the trap wire supports my weight. I push out with my aft hand till I can get my aft foot on the rail and then extend the aft leg. Keep the forward leg more rigid and keep the aft leg bent a bit, so you don’t fall forward. A wider stance is most stable. Keep your feet seperated by at least 1 1/2 your shoulder width. You get more hiking weight out further if your feet are together, but that is most unstable and more of an advanced hiking position. Try wider stances first and work your feet closer together as you get more comfortable and confident. Rougher seas and fast reaches normally require a wider stance.
How do I do it with the main and tiller? I sheet the main to power up and hold the helm on a course. Check that you are stable both on a safe course and not starting to fly the hull too much. Check for any approaching gusts!
I place the tiller on the rail just to aft of my sitting position and hold with my thumb on the rail and palm over the tiller. I turn forward and I get the forward foot on the rail, uncleat the main and place it in my aft hand on top of the tiller, on the rail (main held and course held steady) Reach for the trap handle with the forward hand then push out with the aft hand. Once my butt is over the side I grab the mainsheet again with my forward hand then push out with my aft hand I then extend the aft leg as I slide my aft hand out along the tiller. I also have to slip the mainsheet through my forward hand as I extend out.
I don’t like to keep the sheet in the cleat, but will do that when the conditions are stable. Best to learn how to do it with the cleat un-done. I have been hit by puffs when in mid transition. Having the sheet uncleated and held in my hand allows me to slip the sheet out if I have to.
You get back off the trapeze by bending your legs at the knees. You slide your aft leg onto the boat while supporting your weight from the trapeze handle with the forward hand and the aft hand on the boat’s rail. Then lift your weight by the trap handle and slide the rest of the way back onto the rail.
For best stability while trapezeing, keep your forward leg nearly rigid and straight. Keep the aft leg slightly bent. If you begin to fall forward, bend your aft leg a bit. Keeping both legs straight can cause you to loose your balance and fall fore or aft.