Open 60 sailboats have a pedal-looking control in the middle of the cockpit. Does anyone know what it does and how it works?

Open 60 Sailboat Cockpit

Image source: https://feelinknotty.files.wordpress.com/2011/08/dsc_0721.jpg

  • 3
    I think it's a winch which uses a transmission so that one person can control the sails.
    – Wills
    Jan 18, 2016 at 15:59
  • 1
    Could be that too, I'm just thinking there appears to be winches for the sails separately.
    – user2766
    Jan 18, 2016 at 16:01
  • I think (not 100% positive as this is simply based on what it looks like and some googling, not experience of the boat) that it is the winch for the Canting keel. Having done some checking, I think (again) this is automatic so not controlled by a winch. @Wills is likely correct
    – user2766
    Jan 18, 2016 at 16:41
  • 1
    @Liam yes, the canting keel is hydraulic so I expect there is a button but not a winch.
    – nivag
    Jan 18, 2016 at 17:04

2 Answers 2


It is a 'on-station grinder', a centralized station for turning the winches of the sheets (lines) attached to the clew of a sail. They are multi-speed, meaning you can have a serious mechanical advantage (5, 10, 15, 30:1) under dire conditions that a 2-speed winch with a handle simply can not work unless you have Arnold on board. And even then...

Generally used on 9-meter, 10-meter, and larger racing sailing vessels. Generally now they are hydraulic.

here is a web pic of a lab setup to measure the crews effort under race conditions ... or for a starwars shoot.


It is a winch. Which is used to generate a larger force needed for bigger boats. What it actually controls is not entirely clear.

My best guess would be it's for the main halyard (to raise the sail) or at least something to do with the sail. Looking at this picture the man is looking up at the sail in harbour while using the winch in question. So I would guess he is looking how high he raised it.

Man operating a winch on a sailboat

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