Join Date: May 2002
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Generally, self tailing winches are most useful for cruisers and especially single handers. A lot of racers don't like them, because it's a little harder to unwrap a line from the winch, and they are a little more likely to foul a line. They just aren't as efficient for racing.
Two speed winches are usually used by racers on all but the smaller boats, and they're also used on bigger boats, to help the crew handle the bigger line loads. For a racer, the low speed lets the jib trimmer make small adjustments in sail trim when the line is heavily loaded, and the high speed brings the line in faster during a tack. Because the two speed winch pulls in the line, regardless of whether you crank it clockwise, or counter clockwise, you can also "pump" the winch; i.e., bring in the sheet by alternately pushing the winch handle forward and pulling it back. Sometimes that is a convenient way to make smaller adjustments, and it also helps if the cockpit is crowded, and you don't have enough room to swing the winch handle all the way around. (A racing cockpit isn't supposed to get that crowded, but it happens.)
My boat is what I would consider a moderately fast 35' cruiser, and it has two speed self tailers. I mostly cruise it singlehanded, and like the winches very much for that purpose. I should add that my boat also has a jam cleat by each primary winch, and, while I use the self tailers frequently, I often prefer to forego the self-tailer, and let the jam cleat hold the line. It's easier for me, when singlehanding, to uncleat the line from the jam cleat before I tack the boat. It's nice to have both options.
Last edited by Sailormon6; 07-26-2006 at 10:24 AM.