Composite OneTouch Winch Handle by Dax Labs

To remove this innovative winch handle, just squeeze. "Gear Up" from our August 14, 2007, /SW eNewsletter/


At this year's Block Island Race Week we sat down at the bar of the Oar (a well-known Block Island hangout for Race Week sailors) and talked with Don Steiner about his invention, the OneTouch winch handle. As regular readers of Sailing World and SW eNewsletter know, the OneTouch was introduced by Lewmar last year and was quickly recognized as one of the best winch handle innovations in a very long time. The premise is simple, the OneTouch handle uses a plunger pin and ball mechanism. To insert, you simply squeeze the handle and place it into the winch. To remove, you squeeze and remove the handle in one motion. Both operations can be performed one-handed, which saves time and effort. The mechanism employs two pins that automatically retract into the bi-square when the handle arm is squeezed, and extend when the handle arm is released.Although Steiner licensed his design to Lewmar, he retained the rights to develop and sell a composite version of the OneTouch through his company, Dax Labs, and he gave us a pre-production model to use for the duration of Race Week. As with any new product, the handle we tested had a few glitches, but nothing that slowed us down or affected our performance on the racecourse. When we returned to the office, we talked to Steiner again and discovered that he'd seen the glitches, too, and was working on the issues. Within days, a new handle arrived and we proceeded to try it out on several boats, including SW's own 25-footer and a brand-new X-41. During these follow up tests, we quickly discovered that the few minor issues we found in our initial tests had been resolved; Dax Labs had produced a viable handle. Senior editor Stuart Streuli took the handle along on an afternoon sail on the SW boat and returned to the office with the following praise for the new handle:"It was time to tack. So I asked my wife's close friend, who was sitting comfortably in the cockpit with her back against the cabin house, to reach back over her head, remove the winch handle, and hand it to her husband, who was getting ready to tail the new jib sheet."The fact that she was able to do so, quickly and without even looking away from her appetizer, is a tribute to the Dax OneTouch winch handle. "Traditional winch handles have always been relatively easy to insert. However, getting the handle out, for example, while rushing through a crash tack, hasn't always been so easy. The thumb lever used to free the handle sometimes requires a little finesse. Spend enough time on a boat and you become quite adept at removing winch handle. But for novices, and for the experts trying to guide them through a maneuver, it can be quite frustrating."The OneTouch handle eliminates all of that. Simply grabbing the winch handle anywhere on the arm releases the lock and allows the handle to be quickly removed. Putting it in is equally as easy for the same reasons. Grab the handle, retract the locking pistons by squeezing the bar on top of the horizontal arm, and slide it in. The only suggestion I'd have to improve the winch is to enlarge the size of the disc on top of the handle."$104.00,