287. Top Tips Tuesday - A Helping Hand

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Many years ago, for my sins, I was talked into becoming the regional race training coordinator for the RYA North East region. My task was to coordinate, and occasionally run, training weekends for various classes of dinghies. However, the nature of the beast was that I was more often out on the water at the event, videoing and coaching, sometimes getting in the big name coaches courtesy of the RYA. Jim Saltonstall, a very very successful Olympic coach, was one such name I 'imported', with me driving the coach boat and getting right up close. I am still in awe of his words of wisdom! On my 'retirement' from the post, I got back into some serious dinghy racing on the open meeting circuit and quickly found that those weekends watching other folks practise mark rounding, tacking, starting technique, boat trim and of course sail setting helped me enormously. It is, I think, safe to say that if one has had a grounding in dinghy sailing, once you move over to cruising or racing keelboats the chances are you will be a better sailor as a result of it; your boat handling is better and you pay more attention to sail setting and boat trim. Passage making is more comfortable and you get to your destination faster, as for racing, enough said!

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At my local club during the autumn/winter, every fortnight they run a 'fun race' for those guys who want to carry on sailing during the close season. The other weekend I offered to jump onto a yacht whose owner was relatively new to sailing and had, I am lead to believe, never raced before. A few pointers were called for, including 'be on the start line when the gun goes'. Well the start was downwind and with a strong tide pushing the fleet onto the line, unfortunately my 'words of wisdom' were completely wrong and we subsequently ended up downstream of the start mark! However not having the upper body strength of the Incredible Hulk and with the yacht having a 150% Genoa I wasn't looking forward to sheeting in this large sail, so speaking nicely to my boss Andy the day before I managed to persuade him to lend me our rigging shop's Ewincher.

The above clip was taken by the owner of the yacht whilst he was helming (who says we men cannot multitask) On our Mystery it's Jenny who uses our own Ewincher to hoist the main, sheet the head sail in and get me up the mast, so this was my first real opportunity to use one in anger. My verdict, brilliant and if you are thinking of converting to electric winches or upgrading to electric, why bother? Or, on a festive note, perhaps you're looking for an expensive Christmas present for the crew member who has everything ! As for my boss, the demo Ewincher makes our rigger's job so much easier if a mast climb is called for as the majority of production yachts these days have halyards winches that will hoist the main or sheet the genoa in with some effort, but to get a man up the mast that needs even more grunt!

  • Genuine winch handle - 2.2kg
  • Brushless engine
  • Manual or assisted mode
  • 15 to 80 revolutions per minute
  • Torque of 80Nm: Ewincher is equipped with an adjustable torque from 10kg to 32kg of traction on the handle, it allows manoeuvring sailing boats up to 55 feet without damaging anything. As you hold it like a regular winch handle you will feel immediately if there is a blockage in the lines, any problem. This is something you don't have with electric winches: you press the button and if something is wrong and you are not careful enough, the electric winch will keep on working and can damage the sails or boat.
  • Waterproof and locking system
  • Long-lasting battery life: Ewincher offers a great autonomy thanks to its Lithium Ion battery: more than a day of sailing with only one charge. Charging time takes about 1½ hours and consumes 7Ah (1.7% of a 400Ah battery bank) It is a high efficiency Lithium-ion 25v battery 3000mA.On a 40ft boat that means you can in one day: Hoist the mainsail 3 times, put in 30 tacks and put an 85kg man up the mast (15m lift).
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