Sail Winches

I’m going to need 3 for my ‘Enterprise’ build - owing to space limitations they’ll need to be drum rather than arm type, they can’t be too heavy (RMG is out on weight & cost!) and I don’t really want to spend a small (or a large) fortune.

Alan (K1W120) has recommended a winch from Germany which is perfect in every respect with the exception that they’ll cost at least 360 Euros for the three.

There’s a new winch coming out soon manufactured in the UK ( It’s a bit on the heavy side for ‘Enterprise’ (remember, I need 3 of them) although size is ok. Cost will be marginally cheaper than Alan’s recommendation.

Which brings me onto these:

Has anyone any experience of them? I can find references to KingMax servos on the web, but not their winches. There’s a UK supplier for them ( and the size, weight and price seem pretty good, but are they any good?

Any feedback would be much appreciated.


I’ve also come across the big Vigor winches from Hobbyking, but they don’t appear to carry them in their UK/European warehouses - they’re a bit on the heavy side for me (it comes back to needing 3) but the pricing is very attractive - I assume Hobbyking will ship stuff to the UK from their US warehouses?

The big Hitec 785 is constantly slated for being so slow - how bad is it in the real world? (Remembering this isn’t for racing!). Price is very good, but again bit on the heavy side.

Eurgle? What can be said? Why can’t they make 'em reliable?!!

Your thoughts please, R.

I just rehabbed a soling that was using the 785. its is slow but a larger custom drum will increase the speed. or you could put a double purchase on it.

many off the newer digital servo’s can me modded to 360* rotation. which means one turn so you’d be able to get lighter weight, but shorter travel.

why do you need 3. are you goingto have one for main, one for jib and third for a stay sail? or are you going to try to get a Geonoa on board…

I have a vigor but have not installed it on anything. I was thinking about using on an IOM…

GWS makes a 3 turn winch not sure its any lighter but it will be cheaper…

For non-racing, the ‘slow’ Hitec 785 drum should be fine. It is strong and robust. For your Enterprise, the speed should give a ‘scale’ look.


for a few bucks more, the 815 with the ball bearings might be the better choice if you go that route… but the 815 is heavy at a bit over 7 ounces…

I’m with John. I would still be using the 785 in my IOM’s if it wasn’t for wanting to Snap jibe. It’s a good winch.

Hello Twister,

Why are you so worried about the weight of the winches?.


The 2 headsail winches are for each tack. Mainly anecdotal evidence and to a lesser degree, calculations, have shown that using a single winch to control an over-lapping headsail can’t/doesn’t work properly. It appears to be perfectly ok when beating and close reaching & possibly reaching but as the wind moves further aft the clews of over-lapping headsails appear to be ‘hooked’ slightly to windward. One notable exception to this is the ‘Sprinta’ set up but as far as I can tell it’ll only work for a single headsail.

As far as I can identify, the problem is caused by insufficient slack in the windward/nonworking sheet. My simplistic calculations have shown that if all that is required is to move the sail from port to starboard tack around a stay, no problem. It only becomes an issue when heading down wind and the windward sheet then needs to be 10-15% longer. Of course, one could argue that with a sail plan like that on ‘Enterprise’ the lions share of the driving force (especially downwind) is from the main and therefore any inefficiencies in the fore triangle don’t really matter and of course they’d be right. But, I’m an ‘idealist-perfectionist’ (ideally I’d create perfection, but I don’t possess the building skills!!) so I’m focussing on what I can get right. Hope that lot makes some sense!

Winch weights? It may well be that I’m over-engineering this build, but I’m determined to keep as near as possible to Claudio’s designed displacement (6167g). When one compares say, the Eurgle winches at about 60g with the Hitec 785 at 110g it quickly becomes apparent where savings can be made. At this time I just wish I’d been able to read more favourable reports on the Eurgles (eg; Astute Composites) to be able to consider using them - weight & size are perfect. Anyway, maybe I’m just being too fussy. Will 330g (3x htec 785) as opposed to 180g (3x Eurgle type) really be a killer? An additional 150g ? Probably not. I’ll finish bonding in the frames & deck beams and see how I’m doing weight-wise…



I saw the sprinta class, and the way it solved the genoa problem was really unique.

with a “big person” boat dead downwind you have people on board to set up whisker poles, ect so it makes life easier.

obvisouly if you coudl get away with just two winches instead of three… it woul be ideal…

could you set up two winches for the jib, and then slave the main sheet to them such that when you are beating to windward on starboard tack, the port winch will have the jib sheeted in while the starboard winch is slack on the jib sheet, but the mainsheet will have two sheets, such that it will be driven off the slack winch IE have a reverse.

that way each winch is still controlling one sail. No idea on how to make it really work just tossing ideas out.

one thing I would do woudl be to make up mock up of the deck and start playing with stuff.

Is this great minds thinking alike? …

I’ve decided to build a mock-up of the rig (full size), the aim being to establish headsail sheet run lengths etc and then to have a play around with controlling them, I’ll see how it goes…

Rig experiments will be posted on the build log thread - pics to follow, as I’ve already cut out some heavy paper headsails (flat panel) & dug out a piece of 12mm dowel which is far too floppy to form a 1.66m mast but perfectly adequate for this purpose. More to follow…


Hi Row
I know you won’t but when you are making your mock-up don’t take any short-cuts. Don’t use a nail in the board when there will be a block in the boat. I’ve made mickey mouse mock-ups and thought I had it sussed and when it was transferred to the boat it didn’t work. Fiddle around with anchor points and fairlead positions. They can make a tremendous difference in overall travel.

you also may want to consider some sort of removable control board. like the guys on the ec12 use. makes for easy to work on. yes it adds weight, but, being able to work on stuff OUT of the boat. is SOOO much easier… I know you won’t be using it for racing, but why make it frustrating or hard to work on…

How many times have we cussed at designers/installers for making a part hard to get to or hard to repair because they did not consider the end user and keep maintenance/repair in mind…

Same goes for winch mountings, have changed manufacturers couple of times now and was always constructing new mountings for different sizes :irked: now I use a removable plate that I mount winches onto, changing to different size winches is now simply making a new plate and not doing surgery on internal fittings.

To reply in order;

Don, erm, actually that’s exactly what I have done… Not exactly nails but screw eyes. In my defence the main reason for mocking up the rig was to establish sheet lengths - primarily to measure the windward (slack) sheet length and then also to give an approximation of the working sheet length, both numbers obviously being required to give overall winch turns. The second reason was to give me a rough idea how far out from the centre line the sheeting positions need to be thus giving me a reasonable idea where any under deck reinforcement needs to go, which will run longitudinally between deck beams and/or frames. The sheet leads will almost certainly be through blocks and from what I’ve seen they’ll give a turning point slightly lower than the screw eyes hence needing to be mounted slightly further aft so the under deck pads/reinforcements will be extended further aft to allow for this.

Marc, definitely like the idea of all the electronics being removable as a single unit - I’ve always admired the EC12 system boards and if it can be done without making the main deck hatch too big it will be. It keeps coming back to using 3 winches so I’ll have a play around once the winches are actually in my grubby mitts…

Alan, winch mounting plates certainly make sense - one of the layouts I’m thinking of would make individual winch removal (in particular those for the headsails) extremely difficult so a plate that the winch bolts/screws to which is then fixed to the boat makes perfect sense. Combining that with Marc’s suggestion would then give me the best of both worlds. I guess I can work on the mounting design utilising the dimensions of the largest available winch thus knowing that anything else will also fit.

More details to follow on the build log soon…