Im responding to an article (When a rule is not a Rule) you posted this morning referencing the new bicycle powered system being used aboard Groupama 3 in which the driver/solo skipper can help to trim major sheets using his legs rather than his arms. The article asserts that manual power is only that power than can be derived from ones hands. Thus, he argues that this innovative and ingenious appendage is in violation of rule 52.
As an exercise science student and a competitive sailor I found this to be just about the most amusing I’ve seen on the site lately (even including the silly halloween costumes and the poor guy with his 505 stuck under the RC!) If you examine that actual muscle groups used in sailing you will see that essentially every act of sailing involves the legs and feet in an extremely powerful way. Using a grinder requires the user to stand in a powerful leg stance using numerous muscle groups that start at the lower back and end at the hands using the entire back and shoulder. If you tried sitting and grinding you would find that you would achieve far less power without the powerful bracing stance acquired by standing. Similarly sailors the world over use their legs to brace themselves against bulkheads to pull lines. They use them to lift heavy spinnaker poles (well, they used to – ed), to hoist and douse large sails and yes indeed even to hike. If Mr. Szeremley’s assertion is correct than yes hiking and even using a trapeze on small boats are illegal and that would mean that a huge percentage of sailors have been in violation of this rule for a long time.
Manual power is just that. Power that comes from the man. The rule is meant to stop competitors from using battery powered winches. Groupama’s power is derived directly from the operator and therefore is squarely within the realm of "legal"