The Powered Winch debate

With Speedboat and ICAP Leopard lining up to attempt the west to east transatlantic record, the issue over powered winches raises its head once again. Even if Speedboat and Leopard succeed in breaking Mari Cha IV's time of just under 6 days 18 hours they will not become the outright record holders in the eyes of the arbitrators in such matters, the World Sailing Speed Record Council, as both boats use powered winches, while Mari Cha IV instead had human beings on grinders. There is of course a separate record for vessels with powered winches, belonging at present to ICAP Leopard, which is at present is slower than Mari Cha IV's time.

So the question is - should we still be differentiating between boats with or without pushed button winches? Will there ever be another 100ft or so racing monohull built without powered winches? If this is the case then the World Sailing Speed Record Council may have to change their rules. This will in turn open the flood gates so that G-Class maxi-multiulls will start having powered winches (as the AC33 multis had) and then VO70s, IMOCA 60s and so on down the ranks.

Or perhaps the driver should be the RORC Rating office, which while trying to be as inclusive as possible in letting superyachts and large cruising boats with powered winches into the IRC party, didn't act fast enough in stamping out racing boats fitting them.

There is of course the argument that even before powered winches, super-maxis, VO70s, IMOCA60s and the like were 'powered' as they use stored power to cant their keels.

So do we return to the dark ages where everything must be manually powered or do we sit back in our armchairs and press buttons all day?

I think the issue here is

I think the issue here is why allow powered winches in the first place?  It is said that they add to innovation in the sailing world as many think that "man-power" is one of the current limitations in terms of boat speed - if they were mandated we would see bigger and badder offshore boats (think Dogzilla in an offshore guise).  You could on the other hand argue that they prevent an "arms race" for records.

However Mari Cha IV was innovative (mainly in its rig configuration and sheer size) and didn't use powered winches.  And it wasn't cheap...