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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.

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