Given the high level of innovation in both materials and design at every level of racing over the past 20 years, it was a bit odd that the first new innovation in something as important as winch handles only happened a couple of years ago. We first saw the Dax OneTouch in 2006 in Annapolis, and it made perfect sense. We also met inventor Don Steiner, and hoped this quiet, unassuming man would be successful. Well, he was and he wasn’t.
Don’s product won awards at some of the biggest boat shows in the world, but Lewmar, who licensed Don’s patent for alloy versions of the OneTouch, got all the credit. Meanwhile, Don has been producing and selling lightweight composite versions of the OneTouch with the kind of small success that a tiny business can manage, but now he’s got a competitor. And it’s Lewmar.
The British gear giant just announced a new product called the LiteTouch – a composite winch handle that is a lot like the OneTouch, but without the really innovative part of it – the "Grab Bar" that gives you the unique advantage of the handle. The Lewmar part has a push-button instead of the Grab Bar, and uses a similar locking mechanism that prevents the kind of jams that could happen with the old square-plate handles.
It looked like the kind of end-around that big companies often subject little ones to, and we called Lewmar to ask them why they were screwing this guy over. To their credit, they acknowledged that the LiteTouch was an inferior product, but explained that the OneTouch misses a price point that they could only reach with a less sophisticated product. The LiteTouch’s locking mechanism is certainly nicer than the old standard, but both OneTouch products are significantly better than anything on the market. Now you know. Jump in the Gear Anarchy Forum brought to you by Annapolis Performance Sailing to comment.