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How to choose the right winch for your yacht

Sail handling efficiency, for halyards or sheets/control lines, emanates from specifying the correct winch.

Narrow down the selection process with some basic choices. If you have an open mind about the make of winch, then you will need to go through this process for each manufacturer to establish a shortlist.

The manufacturer winch selection guides are a good resource for researching the most suitable solution for your individual requirements. The information for each brand of winch is available to view on the appropriate winch category page.

Deciding on Manual or Electric/Hydraulic powered winch

Select a winch size for each individual purpose

The top rank, well established brands publish guides on winch size, based on

  1. Purpose e.g. genoa, spinnaker, main and sheet/guy or halyard
  2. Sail Area
  3. Yacht Length Overall

As part of the size selection process, it is very important to check and not exceed the manufacturer recommendations for maximum line diameter, in particular, because of the damage that can be caused by trying to squeeze too big a rope into the self-tailing jaws.

At this stage you will need to ascertain that the winch will physically fit on the deck where you want to situate it by checking the winch dimensions.

Select a suitable power ratio (speed) for your chosen size 1, 2, 3 or even 4 speed on larger winches (or Pontos) More speeds equate to a greater range of power ratio e.g. the ability to pull in a large amount of sheet with minimal turns/exertion at one end of the scale to the capacity to pull in just a centimetre or two under maximum load without too much effort at the other end of the scale.

Select your design function preference:

Self-Tailing – by far the most popular choice for cruising yachts, for sheets halyards and control lines.

Plain Top – generally for racing where the speed of casting the rope off the winch is important to sailing performance or for small winches and snubbers on dayboats and small cruisers.

Select the winch material for the drum from the 3 main options:

Anodised Aluminium – Lightweight, tough finish, relatively inexpensive.

Chromed Bronze – Heavier than aluminium and more expensive but extremely long lasting.

Stainless Steel – The heaviest, most durable and expensive option of the three.

Jimmy Green Marine have developed a deck winch product portfolio to cover specifying anything from an electric re-wind winch on a 50 footer to a classic plain top winch onboard a daysailer.

Demands on deck winches are increasing with the popularity of larger, modern yachts with the accent on cruising performance.

Winches provide the power for handling the high line loads associated with heavy sail hoists and constant trimming during breezy conditions.

The power and efficiency of a correctly specified winch will improve the all round performance of your rig and make your sailing experience much more enjoyable.

Team Jimmy Green are on hand to advise on the most suitable specification for your individual yachting requirements with prices and availability from top manufacturing brands:

Barton ~ Harken ~ Karver ~ Lewmar ~ Selden

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