Before the Nationals last fall I wrote down a few notes for Tim because he hadn't sailed a wabbit before (or any trapeze boat for that matter). He read them carefully and it was a big help that we didn't have to be explaining the plan as we went around the course. I found those notes recently and thought they might be useful for others with a new trapeze person aboard. They are included below. Incidentally, the list led to a moment of levity when I rolled the boat in during the last course race of the nationals. With Jonathan overboard, water pouring below, and the boom way way overhead, Tim looked over at me and calmly asked "What now? this wasn't on the list" It made me laugh at the time.
The trapeze man's role while racing is largely boat balance, with a few additional duties thrown in at mark roundings and during reaching legs. Additionally, the extended position provides a good view of the race course and other boats. Particularly, a boat to leeward and ahead is visible for the trap man but out of sight behind the jib for the crewman and helmsman.
Here weight on the wire is the job. At the start the trap-man is often in a good position to judge the distance to the line. Tacking requires the trap-man to pass through the 'cabin' of the boat. The cooler is well secured and the best place to step/stand as the turn is made. Hooking/Unhooking from the wire is a matter of personal preference although weight out on the new side in a timely manner is important so hooking in after extending out probably speeds the process, at the expense of security.
Most of the time we will probably be doing a bear away set in which we can set the pole up before arriving at the windward mark. The crewman sets the pole on the mast, allowing the trap-man to stay out on the wire.
In the case of a downwind leg, the trap-man comes into the cabin and hoists the chute, the halyard is located directly behind the mast. Usually the middle guy can get the guy back and sheet under control with no problem.
Occasionally there is difficulty getting the pole back so this is a good thing for the trap-man to check and help with after hoisting. For a downwind leg the trap-man can remain in the cabin, sitting on the cooler. Bailing and flaking out the spinnaker halyard and spinnaker guy for the take-down are good things to do also.
In the case of a reaching leg, if it's windy it is helpful to keep the trap-man out during the turn and during the set. In this case, it seems to work best to have the trap-man pull the spinnaker halyard up from the trapeze position. A nearly squatting position in the trapeze harness seems quite stable for this procedure. When this is done, the crewman is free to concentrate on getting the pole guy back, and then trim the spinnaker sheet in after all of that is set. The down side to this is that the spinnaker halyard invariably ends up dragging in the water behind the boat.
While reaching in wind, things get pretty fast. It's best for the trap-man to trim the spinnaker, freeing the crewman to keep a hand on the boom-vang. Also, pulling on the spinnaker sheet adds stability to the wire guy. If it gets fast, the weight needs to move aft a bit, so the trap-man traps right ahead of the middle guy. During a tight reach, the chance of a spin-out is present so the spinnaker may need to be eased quickly at times.
Jibes always start the same way with a squaring back and the trap-man coming off the wire. It works best if both twings get set about 2-3 feet off the deck, choking the spinnaker down a bit. There are two options for the division of labor and usually both get used at some point.