At this year's Annapolis Sailboat Show, I tried out the Harken coffee grinders used on AC72s in the 2013 America’s Cup. Linked to the winches and the hydraulics system, these grinders are key pieces of equipment that enable to teams to control the sails and the foils. So I risked complete embarrassment to take the challenge: How fast could I complete 20 revolutions?

Here's how I compared to the rest of the grinders: Top notch rate is around 6 seconds, and best times for the show visitors was over 8 seconds. My score (13 seconds on my first round, and still north of 10 seconds on my second) definitely takes me out of contention for a grinder spot on an AC boat. Which is fine. (I like to think of myself as the brains, rather than the brawn.)

I have to say it was a workout, and I left feeling very dizzy. (They say it is important to breathe, but I completely forgot to do that.) With a bit more practice I might have got it nailed, but I also might have keeled over.

I have newfound admiration for the guys that have to repeat this about 50 times during the four minute pre-start, and then again for every maneuver.

Tim Claxton grinder

Tim Claxton tries the coffee grinder in the Harken booth.

I walked away thinking how glad I am that electric winch systems are becoming increasingly common options for larger cruising sailboats, like the Jeanneau 469.

And I also kept thinking: this seems like a crazy way to make coffee!