What exercises for winching?

MissFitz

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I seem to have ended up as a trimmer for Cowes Week & am not convinced my muscles are really up to the job. I know time is getting a bit short for serious training but want to do as much as I can, so what would be the best upper body exercises for winching? (And please don't say that sailing is the best training - I know it is, but I can't do it every day!)
 

RobbieW

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I seem to have ended up as a trimmer for Cowes Week & am not convinced my muscles are really up to the job. I know time is getting a bit short for serious training but want to do as much as I can, so what would be the best upper body exercises for winching? (And please don't say that sailing is the best training - I know it is, but I can't do it every day!)

Probably anything that promotes full upper body strength, including stomach etc. How's your technique ? You know that arms length is going to be hard work so work on positioning torso over the winch and exercise whatever muscles hurt afterwards :)
 

Resolution

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I'm neither a gorilla nor young and often end up winching in the big genoa on my 42 footer. I reckon the key points are:

1. Timing - the majority of the sheet must come in before it is heavily loaded. This means having taken up the slack immediately the helm calls "lee ho". Then comes the important few seconds after the boat has passed through head to wind. During this time whoever is pulling in the sheet must go full speed and some. The fastest way to haul in a line is with an overhand (palm down) grip with the whole arm swinging in to grasp the rope, thumb towards your chest and then a whole arm and chest movement to pull back and outwards. The next hand pulls back to the other side.
2. All this should be done with no more than two turns on the winch, and NOT in the self tailer, or else you will have too much friction to be fast.
3. Then wrap two or three more turns around the winch, INTO the self tailer if you have one, slam in the handle and wind.
4. The position you take will be dictated by the boat, but as RobbieW suggests, standing with your torso above the winch so you can use both arms on the winch handle will enable you to use more, bigger muscles than if you sit alongside the winch and wind with one arm only.
5. Assuming you are doing all this by yourself, don't forget to watch the shape of the genoa as you winch. one advantage of standing above the winch facing forwards is that you can easily look up at the sail to tell when it is nicely trimmed. Usually on a beat the helm or skipper will tell you how far in to take it ("leech 6 inches off the shroud" is a common cry). Some boats need to build up speed before bringing in the last few inches, so do keep listening to the helm.
Lastly, if the grinding is excessive and is all becoming too hard and there is no-one else to spell you, you might just ask the helm to take the tack through the wind a little slower. In heavier boats this can actually be faster to windward than a series of slam bam fast tacks.
 

lpdsn

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I seem to have ended up as a trimmer for Cowes Week & am not convinced my muscles are really up to the job. I know time is getting a bit short for serious training but want to do as much as I can, so what would be the best upper body exercises for winching? (And please don't say that sailing is the best training - I know it is, but I can't do it every day!)

No. 1 or 2 trimmer? If you're No.1 then get the No.2 trimmer to continue to tail from the rail until you've pretty much got the sail trimmed correctly for coming out of the tack. Gives you two hands to use the winch handle and you can position yourself better without having to think about tailing. It just means you'll only have to trim on your own for the fine tuning as the boat accelerates.

If No.2, it's all about timing.

In terms of exercise, I guess the second best training is to go to the gym. If you imagine yourself trimming the morning after and go through the motions, if the muscles don't all ache, think of what you need to do in the gym to make the rest of them ache.
 

Ingwe

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It may be a bit late to practice with one now but the best specific winching exercise I have come across is using a Powerball - https://powerballs.com/ they take a bit of practice but at high speed they exert a lot of force so they really improve your grip as well as your arm speed.
 

Birdseye

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I seem to have ended up as a trimmer for Cowes Week & am not convinced my muscles are really up to the job. I know time is getting a bit short for serious training but want to do as much as I can, so what would be the best upper body exercises for winching? (And please don't say that sailing is the best training - I know it is, but I can't do it every day!)

The best help I have found is buying one of those 12 inch fancy handles that you can get two hands on and which allow you to stand over the winch. The Lewmar One touch double grip ones - silly money but they really are worth it.

As for exercise when I asked on a visit to the gym the yoof there suggested holding a heavy medicine ball at arms length and moving it horizontally in a circle.
 

jac

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And don't forget your cardio vascular fitness. No point having muscles like arnie if you run out of puff after 2 or 3 quick tacks. Some gyms have machines like bikes that you peddle with your arms - think coffee grinder winches. If yours does then suggest using that for your cardiovascular workout rather than a bike or treadmill.
 
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