Making lighter work of a large genoa – or – Choosing Pontos 4 speed winches.

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During the winter of  2015-16,  Mark and Judith Grimwade  decided to fit Pontos Trimmer winches to ‘Wizard of Paget’, their much loved  Frers ex-Admiral’s Cup boat,  which they had cruised for many years.  Judith is well known as the President of the Cruising Association in the UK.

After several weeks sailing around S Brittany, where ‘Wizard’ is kept we asked them to tell us how they had been getting on:

IMG_2384“Our “Wizard of Paget” was built when large genoas were in vogue. She is a 1969 one-off, 40ft retired Admirals Cup ocean racer, the very first independent design of German Frers when setting up his own business after working for S&S. She was built using foam sandwich by Frans Maas of Breskens for her original owner ‘Shorty’ Trimingham of Bermuda.

Her original racing crew numbered 7 but, for the past 14 years, her full crew whilst cruising Biscay has consisted of a retired couple!  Coping with the 160% Genoa of 50sq.m has never been easy as  using the original 47 year old Barlow 2-speed 46 sized non-self-tailing winches required a lot of effort, especially as anno domini most definitely applies to winch handlers! 

How to resolve the winch problem? Which way to go? We looked at electric winch handles but these could not be used effectively without self-tailing winches and battery life had to be considered. Electric or hydraulic winches were out of the question on grounds of both cost and complexity of fitting (“Wizard” is based in Brittany). 

Then, through a Cruising Association contact, Pontos 4 speed self-tailing winches came to our notice and their presence at a CA function enabled us to “learn the ropes” with a practical demonstration – which “sold” us a pair of Pontos 46 “Trimmer” winches. Taking P1040134measurements aboard indicated that mounting should not present problems.    ……… and so it proved ……… as the photographs show, the Pontos 46s appear to have been made to fit “Wizard”! The stainless steel mounting bases are the original 1969 build which just needed additional securing bolt holes and were fitted in a day.

Next, the proof of the pudding:- In the first part of our 14th annual Biscay cruise, our Pontos 46s have provided all that is claimed for them – the initial 1st and 2nd gears provide exactly the same as the original Barlows (but far more efficiently as one would expect after 47 years) together with the enormous advantage of self-tailing (our first practical experience of this!). 

When the load really comes on in 1st or 2nd. gear,  the winch automatically “clicks” into low ratio to provide 2 additional gears to further reduce the winching effort.  Gear 4 provides an enormous amount of power (the term “finger-tip winching” comes to mind) whilst one can “toggle” between gears 3 and 4  which allows the winchman/woman (no longer necessarily a gorilla) to gain extra sheet more quickly.

In short, our Pontos winches have allowed an elderly couple to carry on sailing a yacht which could otherwise have proved too great a physical imposition.

Please note that we have no connection with Pontos winches other than being satisfied customers. We should add that the backup provided by Pontos has been exceptionally good – both helpful and efficient – throughout the processes of choice, purchase and installation.”

Mark and Judith Grimwade