Winches are designed to relieve your vessel from constant stress due to strong winds and other elements. A quality winch is a crucial component on any sailboat and must not be overlooked. A weak, undersized or faulty winch can spell disaster for you and your vessel. If your winch is getting old, it may be time to consider replacing it.
Take a look below for our reviews of some of the best sailing winches currently on the market.
Best Sailing Winches
Here are our reviews of the best sailing winches.
This lightweight winch is designed with a simple gear system and reduced mechanical parts to make it lightweight, durable and easy to service. Simply follow the engraved arrows, which lay out what direction to crank the winch, to lessen the risk of danger or accidental strain.
- One-handed operation
- Anodized aluminum/alloy body
- 2-speed gear system
This stainless steel, electric winch is one of the toughest on the market. Its rustproof design ensures that this winch will be with you for years to come.
- 5-year warranty
This stainless steel, smooth polished winch combines maximum grip capacity with minimum wear on ropes. This winch requires just a few turns, making tacking easier than most.
- Single speed
- Can handle up to 400kg
- Polished finish
This winch from Lewmar, is one of the best selling winches ever made. Boat builders and sailors alike love this winch for its classical look and solid construction.
- Easy servicing—no tools required
- Convertible to electric
- Available in sizes 16 to 65
This self-tailing winch, is an evolution of the renowned Lewmar Ocean Winch, featured above. This winch is available with electric or hydraulic operation and is designed with a precise strength to weight ratio.
- No tools required for service
- Durable and efficient
- Available in black, grey and chrome
Sailboat Winches Buyer’s Guide
Sailing winches come in many styles, all designed for differing functions and vessels. Selecting the right winch for your vessel can be very confusing, especially for beginners. The vessel you own or are considering buying will end up determining what type of winch is suitable for you.
Take a look at our buyer’s guide for some tips and features to keep an eye out for when making your purchase.
The main function of a winch is to provide you with the leverage needed to pull in the sails. This can be achieved with a standard, non-geared winch, however, if you are facing strong winds, a multiple-geared winch will provide the extra leverage needed, making them a preferred choice for many sailors. For a standard cruising sailboat, consider a winch with one or two gears, unless you prefer to sail “old school”, then all the power to you.
Winches are constructed using a variety of materials and differ primarily on weight, quality and cost.
Anodized aluminum: This material is super lightweight and affordable are a popular choice among sailors.
Chromed bronze: Bronze is extremely durable and is sought out by traditionalists; however, some sailors feel that it looks outdated on modern vessels. Chromed bronze combines durability with a modern look but can be highly expensive.
Stainless steel: This is bar-none, the most popular material on the market. Durable, strong and looks great. If looked after properly, you may never need to replace them.
Composite: Composite winches are steadily growing in popularity due to their strength and aversion to corrosion. The most popular composite material is Marelon, which is expensive but built to last a lifetime.
Unlike manual winches that are powered by human strength and mechanical leverage, electrical winches are powered by a motor and use buttons to grind the rope for you.
If using a small, or even averaged sized sailboat, an electrical winch is not necessary. However, these winches are a great option for any elderly sailors or above-average sized vessels.