A winch is an integral part of a sailboat. It will help you raise the sail and also your anchor. Doing both these things might look like a simple task, but if the winds get high to underwater currents rage, you can do some real damage to your equipment and boat if you do not have a winch built from high-quality materials and is strong enough to get the job done.

When choosing a winch for your brand new boat or to replace one in an old boat, you have to consider the materials it is made of, the appropriate size for  your boat, how many gears you need and what will power the winch.

Don’t stress though, as we have scoured the market and brought you two of the best winches available. Here are our picks for the best sailboat winches in 2021.

How To Choose A Best Sailboat Winch – Buying Guide



Winches give you the leverage you need to manipulate your sails. When there are high winds, this can be particularly hard. This is where gears come in. The gears are what give you the extra leverage to be able to fight against winds which you would normally not be able to. Think about when you have been walking into a strong wind and how it has blown you back. Now, imagine that with a sail (material constructed to catch the wind). If you are going to be sailing into strong winds, or any winds at all, you are going to need a winch with gears. The same is true if you are using a winch to raise an anchor. Depending on the depth of the water, the currents, and the size of the anchor, you will need to have gears to aid you.

You have two main options at your disposal: one-speed and two-speed.

One-speed winches are cheaper. They give you leverage to manipulate your sails, but I would recommend them for smaller sailboats. When you turn the handle in one direction, there is one speed. What you see is what you get with this type of winch.

Two-speed winches give you more control and more power over a sail especially. You crank the handle in one direction, and you get one speed (the faster speed). When you crank in the opposite direction, you get the second speed (the slower speed). This is great for when you need power. You can raise a sail quickly with fast speed, and then use the slower speed when you need to fight against the wind.


As with most products, the better the material, the better the product and the more expensive the product. Winches come in a variety of materials:

  • Anodized aluminum is lightweight, and it is durable. It is also a cheaper option, making it a popular choice for sailboats.
  • Stainless steel is one of the most durable materials you can use for a sailboat winch. You will pay a little more, but the longevity will pay that investment back. They look great.
  • Chromed bronze is another material which is extremely durable. The chrome gives a modern look, not unlike stainless steel. Chromed bronze will cost a little, but it will also last for a long time.
  • Composite materials are becoming more popular and easier to manufacture. They can be expensive, but you may never need to replace them.


Sometimes you want some help on your sailboat. It can be hard work captaining a boat by yourself and taking care of everything without any help. Electric winches take the hard work out of operating a winch, and they provide a seamless and powerful service which is hard to replace by human labor.

Most come with a button which can be pressed to activate. An electric winch will have more parts than a manual winch, and there is more of a chance that they will need to be repaired, but with advances in technology, electric winches are becoming more and more durable.

The only downsides with electric winches are that they will typically cost you more and they need power to run.


If you are unsure as to the size of winch that you need, you can find winch size charts on most winch manufactures websites or with a quick google check. Generally, the larger your boat, the more powerful a winch you will need.


Q: How Many Winches Do You Need?


A lot depends on how many winches you currently have and the condition of those winches. When it comes time to replace winches, you may do so for different reasons. After time, older winches will start to break down and will not work as they should. You may also want to replace older winches with self-tailing winches.

If you are replacing all of the winches on your boat, then simply count the winches you have. If you have a sailboat with some rarely used winches, then you will not need to replace them all. Once you have replaced the winches on your boat with newer winches, you may never need to replace them again.

Most small sailboats will only need between two and seven winches in total.

Q: Do You Want Self-Tailing Winches?


Self-tailing winches can be a great addition to your boat, no matter if you are sailing alone or with a large crew.

When trimming a line on a sailboat, you will turn the winch while at the same time pulling on the loose end of the rope to maintain the tension. While this is not a difficult procedure, you will find that you are using both hands and have to complete the task without being able to do anything else at the same time. Self-tailing winches will allow you to operate the winch with only one hand, freeing up your other hand.

On large boats with a large crew, you do not need to worry so much about this. One person can crank the winch while the other maintains the tension.

I would recommend using self-tailing winches wherever you can (and wherever you can afford it). The benefit of being able to use the winch with one hand far outweighs the extra you may pay for the winch.

Globo Surf Overview

Sailing is a pastime which is enjoyed the world over. Without a winch, you will literally be left high and dry. With the correct winch, you can make your sailing experience safe and enjoyable. There are many winches out there, but we have chosen the ones which will enhance your sailing experience. With an eye on safety and functionality, we want you to enjoy sailing as much as we do.

More Sail Reviews:

Do you have one of our sailing winches? Tell us how they have worked for you in the comment section below.

Globo Surf
My name is David Hamburg. I am an avid water sports fan who enjoys paddle boarding, surfing, scuba diving, and kite surfing. Anything with a board or chance I can get in the water I love! I am such a big fan I decided to start this website to review all my favorite products and some others. Hope you enjoy!