Changing a winch

It may be necessary to changer, or add an additional winch, for specific manoeuvres such as the spi. The first point to consider when installing a new model is the operation to be performed, taking into account the sail area and the type of navigation (racing or cruising.)


Choosing a winch

The following table provides for the manual models, the appropriate winch, according to boat length and sail area. Of course, this is just a recommendation, you may prefer to take a larger size. We do however, recommend that you do not choose the size below.

Understanding the numerical notation of winches

The simplest winch is the one speed model, where a turn of the handle equals a turn of the winch (winches up to no.16.) After the no.16, the winches have two or three speeds. The numbers are not random, they respond to what the makers call the Power Ratio. This is always given in terms of use with a standard 10 inch or 254mm crank (see cranks.)For example, on a 32 winch, a force of 1kg on the crank results in 32kg on the winch on its most powerful speed. The power of an adult is of the order of about 25 to 30 kg. The winch 32 has about 800 to 960 kg of force.


The cranks

The standard size of the cranks is 254 mm (10 inches). With a shorter crank the power is lower (shorter leverage.)The short models are however, practical in cramped spaces. Short cranks are proposed for when the winch is hampered for any reason. They are also appreciated by certain racers as they are more effective for rapid manoeuvres. The life of a crank may be short as they have a tendency to be lost in the water. One may also choose a floating crank. The locking mechanism is also important. Antal and Lewmar have developed cranks which operate with one
hand. Choose a well adapted model, for the task: standard crank (one hand,) double (two hands,) or with a ball for added strength.



It is advisable to regularly rinse the crank with fresh water and avoid leaving them in tension for prolonged periods (mooring or in port.)It is advisable each year to remove the warping end, clean and grease it with the product recommended for the brand. The pawls and springs are wearing parts. To replace them we provide maintenance kits. Lubricate all gears, bearings and pinions; never the ratchets, the grease, plus salt forms a sort of glue which prevents their function.

Professional Advice

“Winches are equipment that undergoes huge strain. They must be checked or even changed periodically. Maintenance kits are available in our stores.”

Electric winches

Comfortable and with less effort, this is what led to the creation of electric winches. An electric winch is simply a manual winch (same mechanism) on which an electric motor is fitted. Electric winches may often, also, be operated manually. The winch can be electric from the start but some manual models can also receive an electric motor. Attention electric winches are greedy. The electric current consumed is noticeable. In order to provide adequate cable read the instructions carefully. The new Harken range of winches are reversible. They function normally but are able to stop and turn the other way without need of reconfiguration.