What Is A Self Tailing Winch?

Sailing can be the best hobby you can have, and they also have the best community you can interact with. Sailors are very passionate about their hobby, and quite frankly, no one can blame them. Who can’t be helped but feel being at ease and at the same time having a sense of empowerment. Feeling your boat gently gliding through the water, the breeze from the wind, and water splashing to you is very satisfying. Even when controlling your sailboat is very satisfying because you feel like you are in control.

Sailing does not limit you to treating it as a  being hobby only, it can be a rigorous sport as well. When sailing, you are using your entire body to control the boat, especially when controlling the sailboat in strong winds. The sailing sports community as well is very friendly and very open to the newcomers. 

If you are going to start sailing, learning how to control a sailboat can get complex. Complex it may be, but there are tools that can help you with that. One of these tools is a self tailing winch.

What Is A Self Tailing Winch

Controlling the sails of sailboats can be quite exhausting, especially so when you are sailing alone. Even on boats that are 30-40 feet in length can have pulling forces up to 2 tons, depending on wind conditions. This is where a winch can help, winches provide the force needed for when controlling heavy sail hosts during strong winds. 

If you have plans to sail alone, not all winches would work for you. Some sailboat winches are designed for two people to work on it, so they can’t be operated solo. Since you are planning to sail alone, consider buying yourself a self tailing winch.

Before we get into what is a self tailing winch, we first have to understand the grinding and tailing. The act of spinning the winch is grinding while the act of pulling the rope and tightening it tailing. These two actions need to work together for the winch to be able to pull the winch line. Normally two people will do these tasks, one for grinding and the other for tailing but both can be done alone. With a self tailing winch, it is possible to operate the sailboat alone, and execute grinding and tailing in one action.

A self tailing winch, as the name implies, can be operated with only a single person in mind. It is a capstan type winch having an open end and a vertical drum that is being wrapped around by the winch line. The handle is the self tailing winch is detachable, only attach the handle when the winch is in use. When attaching the handle, make sure that the handle is attached properly to prevent any unnecessary mistakes and accidents.

Choosing A Self Tailing Winch

Now that you have learned what is a self tailing winch, which self tailing winch do you pick exactly? The pulling of the winch line can be great, especially so in windy conditions. So lick which winch you are going to get by considering these factors first.


  • Purpose: There are different types of self-tailing winches for different purposes, such as for sports it is just for leisure use. Consider how often you are going to use the winch.
  • Sail Area: Determine the surface area of your sail. This is important because the surface area of your sail correlates with how much area is being pushed by the wind. The more area you have means the more areas a wind can push your boat, which means more weight. Getting a winch not up to the specifications might cause your winch to get broken.
  • Sailboat Length: Determine the length of your sailboat, you will need this to determine what winch capacity you need to get. 


Now that you have learned what a self tailing winch is, do you plan on getting one? Do you think you can add some tips as well? Share your thoughts below. We also offer some guides and tips as well such as Best Gas Powered Capstan Winch, Best Chainsaw Winch Review, and Best Jeep Winch Bumper for Towing.