Choosing the Right Winch

The choice of a winch is a personal as the choice of a boat. Are you looking for speed and performance or ease of operation? The Pontos line of winches is designed with your needs in mind, offering winches that recover line faster as well as winches that make line recovery less hard on the shoulders and upper body. We even have one winch—the Compact—that combines both speed and ease of line handling in one small footprint. The chart below will help you with your selection. We can also assist with the choice.

Winches and Boat Size—A New Paradigm

The common place to begin when selecting a winch is boat size as well as sail area, since one of the key features of any winch is the maximum working load (MWL in the dimensions chart below). It takes greater effort to haul in—or haul up—a larger sail. A large boat with a very large mainsail needs a way to manage that load. Most sailboats use winches to haul this load because a winch reduces the work needed to haul a line. (If you doubt this, just imagine hauling your genoa directly, with no winch, each time you tacked!)

Winches 101 and Why the Old Rules Don’t Apply. A winch is a rotating lever, with the handle as the lever arm. At first no winches had gears, and the size of the winch handle and the size of the winch drum were all that mattered. Then gears were added, and now two-speed winches have become common place. Now Pontos offers you four speeds on your winch. Gears add leverage, and the revolutionary internal gearing on a Pontos winch substantially increases the mechanical advantage of the winch. So don’t trust the old charts and what you hear from others. The Pontos Winch Size Selection Chart below makes it easy to select your winch size based on your boat length.

Winches and Power Ratios

Winches are also sold on the basis of the rated mechanical advantage (leverage) they provide (power ratio in the chart below)—rated according to the line pull, given in pounds or kgs. For example, a No. 16 winch pulls about 160 pounds for every 10 pounds of force you put into turning the handle. Power ratios vary from 6 to more than 50. It is customary to refer to the power ratio in second (low) gear. Our Trimmer 40 and Grinder 40 winches are designed with the same rated mechanical advantage in second gear (40:1) as other 40 winches (hence the use of the 40 in our product name)—but that is where their similarity ends. The charts below provide both the dimensions of the Pontos Winch product line, and also the performance data for the three sizes of Pontos winches. The standard performance, in the center columns for the Trimmer and Grinder are what you would find on most traditional two-speed winches. The columns to the left  (Ultra-Fast 1 and Ultra-Fast 2) show the speed of line retrieval in the Grinder. The columns to the right (Ultra Power and Pump Gear) show the extraordinary additional power offered by the Trimmer. Line recovery per rotation means the amount of line brought in with one rotation of the winch handle.


Pontos 4 Speed Trimmer
Pontos 4 Speed Trimmer