You can buy downhaul cranks at most windsurfing stores. They run $40-50.
Before I had a downhaul crank, I found I wasn't getting the correct downhaul tension (per the manufacturer's specifications). Once I started using the tool, I was rigging to the specs and getting more range out of the sail.
I use a crank on my 9.8 V8 to save my back for sailing and to fine tune the sail.
Don't think about using a crank to increase the sail's range... rather think of it as using the crank to rig the sail correctly. $0.02
I weigh 65 kilos. I can take my 9.8 V8 out in 20mph gusts without getting backwinded. Before I was downhauling correctly, I found I would get backwinded much sooner (and it was a feeling that grew... I knew it was coming and could do nothing about it).
Starboard [Gemini, F-Type 148, iSonic 105], AHD [Convert 60, GT Special 73], Windsurfer
Neil Pryde [v8 9.8], Sailworks [Retro 8.0; Hucker 6.6, 5.6, 4.8]
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