get the foot braces... It will change your whole experience. If you are uncomfortable putting them in yourself (I was) then i am sure that based on where you are located, someone in this group can recommend a shop to do this for you.
I had braces put in my Merlin II a few years back and it was like getting a new boat.
Glad to hear you coming over from the dark side!
Classic Freestanding Rack
Pull-Up Strap Handle Kit
Deck Rigging Gear
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