Chris Rustom is regular competitor with the Solo Offshore Racing Club (SORC). Earlier this season he fitted two Pontos Grinder 40s to the mainsheet system of his Stewart 37 ‘Ding Dong’. We asked him for his views on using the new winches. This is what he sent back
"Changing to Pontos 4-speed winches – the best thing I ever did?"
My boat is a 37′ one off racer cruiser which I bought in 2008 and have raced almost exclusively single or double handed. She has a German mainsheet system, for which I fitted Harken ST40 radial winches in 2012; the main is relatively large, being 14.3m on the luff and 5.3m on the foot, so needs some grunt when loaded up. The problem with this system is in light, puffy conditions or in mark rounding when short handed, with inability to get the main in quickly with standard 2 speed winches; with no one to jump the mainsheet at the mast and too much load for a straight pull, one is limited to slowish winching.
I changed to Pontos 4 speed 40 grinders and the high gear line speed removes the above problems at a stroke ( or wind! ). Another advantage seems to be that, despite the figures, the lowest gear is more powerful than a standard 2 speeder. On the rare fully crewed occasions, mainsheet trimmers have similarly waxed lyrical. On my boat, with not much overlap on the jib, the advantages for tacking would be less pronounced as long as my timing is right, but having the new winch loaded and ready to go would remove such worries. On any kind of overlapping jib the advantages over conventional winches would be huge.
For racers and short handed cruisers, I can’t recommend the Pontos jobs too highly.”