Pulling on the downhaul to trim the sail can be most annoying part of rigging the sail. The two main factors that make this part of windsurfing unpleasant are the strain on the back and the trouble pulling the downhaul rope easily.
For the back we need to consider technique. Ideally the lower back is kept straight and leant back at an angle slightly over 90° with respect to the mast. Also we want to pull increasing the force we apply gradually rather than in a burst.
Now to the techniques with getting a proper grip on the rope.
Coil around the fist
The most simple of all but it provides de natural disadvantage that the rope cuts into the hand. This technique may work well for the outhaul since there we need less power. The downhaul however offers more resistance and so using nothing but our hands will only let us pull as far as our pain threshold.
This takes a second longer to set up, simple passing the rope through the holes and trapping the loose end under the middle section. This device is better than the rope-bite grip in the sense that it will not cause wear on the rope. A slight discomfort is caused due to the handle being a little thin but otherwise this method is great.
This is the most practical solution as we will always have our harness with us when rigging our sail. A simple bowline knot is used and the noose passed over the hook. The only two minor disadvantages with this is that the bowline knot needs a considerable length of rope and that the test of the harness is a little cumbersome when setting up this method.
We have two knots that we can apply to be able to use nothing but a thick stick to tense the downhaul.
1. Prepare the knot for the bar
2. Tie the knot around the bar
You can also finish off the knot like this to make it easier to undo afterwards
Step-winch Mast Base
If you have any back problems, you should definitely get one of these bad boys. Since all you do is plug it into the mast base and turn the winch, all you need is arm strength and don’t need to use your back at all. It might need somewhat more energy input than the step-winch mast base (maybe someday they will come out with a version with gears 🙂 ) but it is completely harmless for the rope.