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@Dave Mac wrote:

I seem to remember Bob recommending 5mm as kinder to the hands and that it was I use. However I struggle to keep the tension as I wrap (belay)it round the horn cleat. Hi John ! You seem to be suggesting a jamming cleat on the way up to the horn cleat which to me sounds a good solution to my problem. As a day sailor/cruiser I removed my racing wire halyard.
Regards Dave

The system I have is the halyard exits from the mast sheave, then goes up through a side entry clam cleat, which is mounted slightly to one side of the line of the pulley. Thus you can hook it around the cleat to pull it up, but when you unhook it to lower it there is no chance of it dropping back into the cleat and jamming.

Then about 6″ above the cleat I have a small plastic horn cleat, so when the sail is nearly up I can lead the halyard round this too and sweat it up the last part before belaying it around the horn cleat.

This way the clam cleat merely acts as a temporary “non return valve” while you haul the sail up, but once raised the horn cleat takes the majority of the load, which is much easier on the rope, as well as being easier to release again.

In fact, I’m actually wondering whether a simple horn cleat might be the best answer of all – just pulling the sail up hand over hand direct from the mast heel sheave, then hooking it round the cleat to sweat up the last foot or so.

In the past I’ve used just a simple clam cleat alone and found that it very occasionally slips a couple of inches, which is a real pain halfway up the first beat of a race when everything’s loaded up; and also it can be quite difficult to get the halyard back out of the cleat, especially when it’s windy and it has been pulled deep into the cleat by the cunningham / kicker loads.