I would like to respond to David’s Solo forum posting I have been sailing a Solo for a while (well not that long really!) and a number of other classes that use halyard locks and have also been involved in the development of the improvement of the halyard locks over the past 7-8 years.
"At any venue where recovery is from a lee shore, the present arrangement is to unhook the main halyard from the rack, let go of the halyard at the opportune moment, pull down the main and approach the shore/slipway/beach in a controlled manner ... easy peasy.
With a halyard lock, at some stage you will have to head up, let go of the helm, lean forward of the mast, tug the halyard," …
So with the halyard lock its EXACTLY the same process as you tug the halyard keep hold of it and do what you want from there. Unhooking it from the front of the mast, above deck is arguably less onerous than delving down below the deck to grab the halyard.
"This is before we consider the quite hefty and unnecessary cost"….
Its £60 on a £10,000 boat. ½ % increase if you decide to have it. It costs the same as a carbon tiller extension. which you can argue has a performance advantage over an alloy one but the choice is with the customer and is less than having a different colour Solo...Customer choice again.
And lets' not even start on the new rope upgrades (that reduce stretch, at a £ cost), Inhaul systems or XTR fairleads, self tacking traveller system or the super expensive carbon battens over £200 quid a pop etc etc.)
My point is that one of the beauties of the Solo has always been about choice, even within a one design class such as the Solo. It can be dependent on budget or personal taste but the most important element is that the owner can personalise his/her Solo.
"As a user of a halyard lock in another class, I can assure you that they are a pain in the neck both to engage and to unlock, even in a two handed boat ... in a single handed boat they will be a liability and if widely used darn right dangerous."
I have to totally disagree with that statement. My experience is positive in the last decade…. and these locks are widely used in the Fireball/ 505 /470/ 420 and RS Aero, (the junior category use them and surely safety is paramount in that class?) Etchells/Devoti RS (lots) I could go on… if they were dangerous they wouldn’t have been used over the past couple of decades. The problem has been that they do take maintaining (washing out cleaning out the salt deposits etc)...
Recent Halyard Lock Developments
David is right however they were "a pain in the backside" and were not used widely because the equipment wasn’t up to standard... a number of years ago.
When I was at P&B we spent a lot of time machining our own and perfecting them to go in the 505’s because the standard Superspar examples were not good enough but that was 7 – 8 years ago.
Since then Superspar have developed the locks into a far superior mechanism (though it is actually a very simple piece of engineering) and the 470 class and in particular Luke Patience worked hard with Superspars to ensure they hold firm with loads that are far higher than most classes and yet are easily unlocked. They are now widely used in other classes and are an accepted norm across classes spanning the junior (children under 12 sailing alone) to the Olympic classes and everything in between.
"The potential benefit of the mast lock is that it eliminates the effects of a halyard stretch, and reduces compression in the mast ... this theoretically could result in a straighter mast downwind and therefore increase power and performance. It might also improve gust response and improve the effective stiffness for the weight of section."
Carbon battens have a potential benefit, a 10k FRP Solo has a potential benefit over a 20 year old wooden example, a £60 mast lock will not provide any discernible advantage on the water, it is just easier to use, reduces the wear in the bulkhead from rope burn to zero and is a bit sexy IMO. There are already different tools for setting up your mast stiffness and even different sections for different weight sailors.
We use chocks/ different sections with different stiffnesses / different forestay tension/shroud tension/de-rakers already, all to achieve what we think is our own optimum set up. Its personal choice very much like we have seen a recent trend to stop bothering to rake and have a fixed forestay and work around it.
“…Improved gust response… “
As above, changing your mast section, adjusting your rigging, reducing the sleeve in your D+/Superspar, changing your battens /inhaul systems / flexi tip C/B’s are all far more advantageous than how you hold your sail up.
They are not dangerous or prohibitively expensive.
Recovery from a lee shore is exactly the same as with a tooth rack. EXACTLY the same.
People have been using them for years. Across a wide range of classes and in the SOLO.
I hope I have properly conveyed how the mast lock is a benefit and should be a choice of fixation of the mainsail halyard as are racks, cleats and even highfield levers (back in the day).
It's not a dark art, it holds the sail up and lets it down. Simples.