Lewmar boasts of their “domino” style locking mechanism. Spinlock raves about their cam being a superior rope grabbing mechanism. Well, both are pretty cool and both have their place, let’s have a look…
One of the downsides to the Lewmar clutch, other than it is a nightmare to reeve, is that it is very sensitive to rope size. With Lewmar there is a different size clutch for almost every two sizes of rope. One of the downsides of Spinlock is it can chew up rope over a long period of static cleating. However, Spinlock rope clutches will cleat a wide range of rope sizes and run very freely when not clutched down. With Lewmar clutches getting rid of all of the friction is very hard to do, whether clutched or not. This could be a problem for a line that needs to run freely, but could be a plus for a slippery line that has trouble staying cleated.
Antal makers of some of Italy’s finest sailboat hardware has some clutches worth mentioning. In choosing a clutch manufacturer that can handle the bigger diameter lines, there is usually a VERY large price jump (Spinlock), or no option at all (Lewmar). However, when needing to cleat a line before the winch when using over 14mm (or 9/16″), Antal’s V-grip clutches come to the rescue with these very satisfactory/ price worthy clutches.
UPDATE, This just in… Antal just released their new QR Clutch. This clutch promises higher load capacity, less line wear, but more importantly a quicker way to release by creating a two finger release for fully loaded lines. This is a big plus if you’ve ever tried to open a full loaded clutch. With most rope clutches you’ll notice that the load has to be taken off by the winch first in order to ease the line (click here for more info) Nice work Antal!! One downside is it appears that the clutches are very diameter specific, not a huge deal but pay attention to this. Also the lever opens towards the load, away from you, so be thoughtful of this when mounting under dodgers.
So which one is better than the other? The answer is they are both (all three) great clutches. For static load halyards, such as those that pertain to headsail or in-mast furlers where the halyard is left untouched for most of the season, Lewmar is probably the better choice. For applications where the rope needs to be able to run freely immediately, Spinlock comes in first.
PRO TIP: Don’t forget, Lewmar clutch levers open toward you and Spinlock (and Antal) clutches open away from you, keep that in mind when fitting a new clutch in tight spots, like behind the dodger on the cabin top!
Having trouble with your new or smaller lines slipping? Introducing Spinlock’s BRAND NEW XTR 08-12mm CLUTCH!
Promising more holding power due to their radically different Reactor Cam Mechanism. Easy to service, easy to flush, easy to mount, strong, lightweight, and many cool colors to choose from.
We’ve already replaced a few slippery clutches with these and have witnessed the improvement first hand! Ask our friendly sales staff for more details.