Riding turns always occur at the worst possible moment - here's how to shift a riding turn from a winch
Sod’s Law states that you’ll only get a riding turn on a winch at the worst possible moment – such as when you need to ease the spinnaker sheet in a gust, or do a quick tack in a narrow channel. Scroll down for the steps to take to free a riding turn from your winch, but first let’s discuss why they happen and how to prevent them from happening.
There’s usually a good reason for your winch to snarl up:
- The sheet lead is wrong. If the line is coming on to the winch at the wrong angle, it often leads to a riding turn. Signs that this is about to happen include the turns riding right to the top or bottom of the drum as you pull or ease.
- Self-tailers are prone to riding turns if you don’t load them properly – and you usually won’t notice until you’ve wound in a lot of sheet.
- Easing sheets too aggressively. If you let it surge around the winch, chances are you’ll induce a riding turn. Instead, ease slowly and carefully, with a hand on the outside of the wraps to control it.
- Pulling hard on a line with too many turns around a winch can cause a snarl-up. When sheeting a headsail after a tack, it’s best to do the pulling with three turns or so then, once you have to start winding, add a couple more turns to make sure the winch grips.