Out-of-water test at La Grande Motte Multihull Boat Show
The English idiom “two’s company, three’s a crowd” seems to be particularly true on board but hoisting that blessed mainsail….or furling the genoa fast…maybe at the end of the day and after many miles….it’s really hard.
It is precisely in these circumstances that, when the boat has no electric winches, electric handles are useful. Large size and heavy weight are usually the main features of these products; however, at La Grande Motte Multihull Boat Show, I see a lightweight compact model. It is called Ewincher and I don’t resist the temptation to test it out of the water and therefore I ask for an Ewincher handle and I test it immediately, within the booth.
The first thing I notice is its really compact size.
Of course, the handle is bigger than conventional ones yet very convenient. I’ m particularly impressed by its weight that, I have to confess it, is very light. I have already tested other electric winch handles and they were all heavy. This one weights just 2.2 kg, which results into easy management.
The one thing we can recommend is to provide your cockpit with a bag of an appropriate size: you can use the standard one supplied with the handle or buy another one on the manufacturer’s website.
Ewincher is waterproof and complies with IPX6 standards, which means that, even if it cannot be immersed in the water, the handle resists pressure water sprays.
At first sight, the handle might seem to be longer than a conventional one but, when I measure it, I see that it is 250 mm long, exactly like a standard one.
I decide to test it using the load simulators available at the booth.
The handle electric mechanism is operated by a button located on the grip; so, I press the button and start to go round above the winch together with the handle, while the other visitors smile at me…
I am told that I need to hold the handle opposing my body, so I try again and things start turning… within 5 minutes, I master the mechanism and I start to have some fun.
With its different modes of operation – electric or combined ( manual + electric) – and different gears – slow (clockwise) or fast (couterclockwise) – Ewincher is your crew member that assists you in all your sailing maneuvers. In addition, it can manage speed, from 15 rpm up to 80 rpm. I try again, I embrace the handle and I discharge all my 350W power (about 80 nm): everything is surprisingly fluid and progressive.
I am told to use the second speed mode to hoist my last centimetres of halyard or a more precise adjustment while fast gear is recommended for furling the genoa. Looking back at that huge genoa slamming forward during my cruise in Croatia last year, I totally agree.
Meanwhile, a screen within the booth shows a man struggling with the mast lift. This electric handle is indeed a big help when you need to “hoist” a crew member to the mast head: the whole maneuver is totally safe and effortless.
After some minutes, I reach another corner of the booth for my out-of-the-water test and I read “350 kg”: that’s amazing, I think. So, in addition to the automatic mode, I test the assisted one (manual + electric): it’s great! I like it, I feel as strong as Hulk and as fast as New Zealand Team’s grinders. There is no doubt, this is my favourite mode.
Just a few steps from me, a “normal” handle “looks at me” and I decide to test it with a 350 kg load simulator (the test mast is about 2.5 m high).. I immediately perceive all the weight upon the winch and it’s really tiring.. If the mast had been higher than 10 meters, I would have successfully performed my maneuver but I would not have had the energy for another one.
After my test, the staff shows me the Ewincher App; totally free, it uses Bluetooth connection to send several data to your smartphone or tablet, including battery charge level, your strain in kg and the suitable load for your handle.
The handle features a 3,000 mAH lithium battery which takes just one hour and half to charge, using a 12V inverter or a 220V socket.
According to the manufactuer, with 20 kn of air on a 40-footer, you can: hoist your mainsail three times, enjoy 30 turns, furl the genoa 12 times and hoist the spinnaker three times. Always according to the data provided by the manufacturer, on a 37-footer, it takes 1 minute and 50 seconds for the mainsail to lift.
Compared with a conventional electric winch, Ewincher offers many advantages, starting from the price. A single electric winch generally costs at least € 3,500. Ewincher, instead, costs € 2,600 and is offered with a lithium battery. If you need more charge, you can even choose a supplementary battery, available from € 390.
Last but not least, you can purchase your kit from the manufacturer’s online shop: the kit includes the electric winch handle, one battery, a 220v changer, a 12V inverter, the handle pocket and a convenient bag.
Are the manufacturer’s promises really true?
Bruno Rabu, the manufacturer, promptly gives me the kit and tells me :” Test it! Then, tell me if we’re true!”
I gladly accept, looking forward to the time when I will test it on board the Daydreamer, our lab-boat. We will carry out our test in the next few days. So, stay tuned to find our results!