Please select your home edition
upffront 2018 Generic 728x90

Getting to Grips with Winch Handles at

by Phil Anniss 17 Jun 08:00 UTC
Getting to Grips with Winch Handles © Shutterstock

A winch handle is just a winch handle - right? It's true, but when buying a new one, there are a few things you need to consider.

The main variables include:

  • Length - Most winch handles come in two standard sizes, 8-inch (203mm) for speed and 10-inch (254mm) for power.
  • Grip - Different manufacturers offer varying grip types. The winch handles that we sell are available in single and full double grip, high grip (a compromise between single and double) and increasingly popular, Palm grip, which allows comfortable single handed use at low loads and a good double grip for grinding.
  • Bearings - Ball bearings are considered standard these days to minimises friction, enabling the sailor to get the best out of their winches.
  • Locks - Winch handles are available with locking and non-locking mechanisms, Although the non-locking type are easy to remove, they risk getting lost overboard. Locks offer a secure fit and are increasingly available in ergonomic, one-handed operation levers on the shaft.

Current trends are for 10 inch (254mm) handles, to maximise the power output, palm grips for comfort/efficiency and one-hand operated locking systems. Having said that, there are many unique situations where an alternative might be more appropriate.

We offer three brands of winch handle, Harken, Ronstan and Andersen and set out below are just a few of the more specific details about each type.


These robust winch handles have been fabricated in polished stainless-steel to ergonomically provide the perfect transfer of power and functionality for cruising. They are strong, yet relatively light, and all come with a standard locking system. They have single, high and double grips but their latest Auto-Lock range incorporates a palm grip and advanced locking mechanism.


With low-friction ball bearings, and a large winch handle range, Harken packs a punch. Their range covers all materials (Bronze, chrome, aluminium and composite) and all grip types. They are predominantly locking but they do have a basic 203/254mm non-locking aluminium handle. At the opposite end of the range their Carbo One-Touch composite handle is super-strong and lightweight with a grab-bar locking mechanism.


Ronstan has just re-launched a simple winch handle range incorporating all the latest trends. With its Quick-Lock trademark design, it is the perfect piece of equipment for racing competitors and weekend cruisers alike. It has a high-speed release mechanism for single-handed use.


In closing, when it comes to winch handle selection, here is a recap of the things you should consider before buying:

  • Length
  • Grip
  • Bearings
  • Lock

If you are finding it difficult to pick the right winch handle, then do not hesitate to contact us and we will be happy to assist.

To view our selection of winch handles click here. For more advise - or for help with winch selection in general - please download our free Winch Selection Guide.

Related Articles

Loop Woggle is 'The Daddy'
In the world of genoa sheet leads In this blog we look at the trend towards lightweight, flexible sheet lead solutions and why the LOOP Woggle is working its way to the top of the pack in high load situations. Posted on 5 Dec
Andersen Sailing Winches - making the right choice
The key variables and challenges involved in selecting the right winch Andersen winches are a big name in the boating business. Designed and manufactured in Denmark, Andersen Winches have earned a reputation for building high quality, reliable sailing winches that can last a lifetime. Posted on 27 Nov
Calculating your sail areas
When purchasing new hardware this is often a crucial step Lots of equipment on board is load dependant and apart from length and ballast of the boat the primary driver is sail area. It is therefore unsurprising that a lot of hardware manufacturers use sail areas as a primary specification criterion. Posted on 21 Nov
Ino-ending - The end of the line?
Simplicity is key with these blocks When it comes to the Ino-block range, the manufacturer firmly believes that simplicity is key, and Upffront tends to agree with them. Posted on 13 Nov
A Halyard Swivel, Top Swivel or just a Swivel? explain the options available There are many types of swivels used on board boats, several of which are mounted on halyards, however, the term "Halyard Swivel" is reserved for one specific application. Posted on 7 Nov
How to change the cover on a Cousin Constrictor
A lightweight alternative to traditional metal clutches Created as a lightweight alternative to traditional metal clutches, the Cousin Constrictor© is a great bit of kit for reliably holding rope under load with great longevity when properly maintained. Posted on 30 Oct
The Facnor Flatfurl Structural Furler
Keeps the foot of the jib/genoa closer to the deck Facnor Furling Systems are a French manufacturer with over 30 years dedicated to all forms of onboard furling systems for ocean racers and cruising sailors alike. Posted on 24 Oct
What makes Superswift rope so super?
Take a close look at this versatile offering from Gottifredi Maffioli Superswift, from leading rope makers Gottifredi Maffioli, is a favourite among performance dinghy sailors and big boat sailors alike. When you take a closer look at the features of this versatile rope, it's not difficult to see why... Posted on 16 Oct
One Design PROtect Tapes
A set of cut pieces tailored to your class PROtect Tapes are a broad range of high-quality protection tapes for dinghies, racing, cruising and super yachts. PROtect Tapes provides a pro-active solution to chafe and wear prevention. It enhances performance and ultimately promotes safer sailing. Posted on 10 Oct
Practical tips on cruising halyard locks
Bouncing to avoid damage Halyard locks are almost universally accepted in racing circles and are becoming increasingly popular with long distance cruisers, as they recognise the significant benefits. Posted on 2 Oct
MBW newsletters (top)