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matt12 9th February 2008 07:51 AM

Homemade Cheap Downhaul Tool?
Are there any simple devices that could make up at home to assist in downhauling? I think it is time to give up downloading just with a screwdriver and my back!

steveC 9th February 2008 10:52 AM

Hi matt12,

Why try to recreate the wheel?

The two viable downhaul tools that I've used with great success are the "Right-It-Right" leverage tool and Chinook's winch (configurations matched to 2-pin cups and the Europin designs). Admittedly, quite different concept approaches, but both work very well. Realistically, the mast extension and universal type can truly influence the best design approach, but the right products are already out there.

Really, the money involved in these products is a drop on the bucket, and well worth the price of admission.

Roger 9th February 2008 10:11 PM

Hi Matt12,
I totally agree with Steve C. here.
I use the Chinook Rig Winch (I have both the Chinook/WSH Cup version favored in the US, and the Euro Pin version that seems favored everywhere else) and the Rig Winch is well worth several times what they cost.
Here's a link: (Need to scroll down the page a ways):

Think of it this way.....
The $46-48 USD MSRP cost of a Rig Winch is less that half the cost of your first diagnostic visit to a chiropractor or osteopathic physician to have your lower back
problems diagnosed.
Where did your lower back problems come from.....downhauling your sails, primarily.
So, a very worthwhile product and a very reasonable (considering the alternative is temporary to long term lower back pain) price.
There are other devices that work on the same principles. Some sailors like the Rig It Right lever tool, but I found it chews up the DH line a bit and is a little unwieldly to use and store.
The Rig Winch is small light weight, and while there are some improvements that could be made to make it better and "adapt" it to specific mast base configurations, it works as it is, almost universally as long as you have the correct type (Chinook cup or Euro Pin to fit your mast base universal type.
Hope this helps,

matt12 10th February 2008 04:20 AM

Thanks Roger. Now I just need to find a place in Australia that sells them at a reasonable price. I found this online ... but at double the US price, I think I can find a better deal somewhere else hopefully :)

Phill104 10th February 2008 04:33 AM

It's not double the US price. 99$au is about 89$us. Not a lot in it really.

If you have a GUN dealer over there (which I doubt) they do a cheap one that is almost exactly the same as the Chinook model. It's 30 here in the UK. I would suggest buying it from here but including shipping would cost about 98$au.


A quick check of the gun website links to the Aus distributor.
69$au to you sir.

matt12 10th February 2008 06:08 AM

No it is US$48 on the Chinook website that Roger listed ... so it is double the price in AUD which is not a good deal so I think I can find a better price somewhere in Oz.

The GUN tool looks very similar. Has anyone tried both to compare the quality & performance?

Unregistered 10th February 2008 08:19 PM

Just get a piece of pipe, 300mm long 25,50mm thick, drill a hole through the center to the other side, then scre a clam cleat to one side. Pust down haul rope through and into cleat and pull. I have never not been able to get my sail to twist to the sail indicaters as per rigging instructions. Even with my new sailworks hucker. just my 2 cents worth.

Roger 10th February 2008 09:20 PM

Hi Unreg.
Yes, I used to get a nice piece of oak (or other hardwood) dowel and drill a couple
of 1/4" diameter holes through it about 1" apart and about 1/2" off center.
With the 2 holes, you don't need the cleat (which usually jams the line and is very hard to get loose after you finish downhauling. Just run the line in one hole from the front, then back forward through the other hole and cross the line back over the outside of the tube/dowel and tuck it under the loop between the 2 holes on the back side and you have a great little downhaul tool.
Then if you use only your legs (not your back) to do the pulling, you might not give yourself any long term injury or back problem.
But once you've used the Rig Winch or other "crank type" downhauling tool you will quickly see that all the pressure that you used to absorb in your legs, and lower back is now completely handled by the tool.
A fairly well known WS personality here in the US (who owns a big shop with rentals, lots of rigs, and is his only source of income) was having some serious lower back problems.
When his diagnostic X-Rays came back, the doctor asked him what he did for a living as his spine had lots of damage similar to a "hod carrier" (hod carrier - a laborer who carries supplies (concrete mortar) to masons or bricklayers) up onto the top of brick buildings under construction.
Well, it turns out that the damage to this fellows spine was directly attribtable to injuries from downhauling lots of sails.
So, you can continue to use your back and legs, and risk temporary or permanent damage to your lower back, or simply get a downhaul tool that eliminates this risk altogther.
Hope this helps,

Phill104 10th February 2008 10:00 PM


There are quite a few sailors over here that use the GUN one. They never seem to wear out and work really well. There aren't too many chinook stockists here and GUN is the cheapest alternative.

pierrec45 10th February 2008 11:04 PM

Boom height and uphauling.
I would just add that boom height makes a huge difference in rig weight when pulling up. Regardless of the make.

Just imagine way-too-high booms, then pulling up would be nigh impossible. It's a sine-cosine thing.

It doesn't mean to you must keep it low or lower-than-should just to assist your pulling. But just in case, review your boom height again. As a matter of fact, I find a lots of sailors booms are too high, they can't start or waterstart, and are awkward when sailing on a reach, without realising it.

All depends on your style, rig, wind strength, but very minimum is armpit-high, and goes way up from there on for small boards and strong winds.

One final note: don't let your mast "window" determine the boom height. It should be where you want it to be, then extension and mast should follow suit.

Cheers & 'luck.

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