We often receive unsolicited letters and emails form our customers commenting on their new TillerClutch. Here, with their permission, I have posted several of these messages. Thank you everyone for sharing your comments.
—Pete Crawford, Engineer, sailor and inventor of the TillerClutch
I have installed the Tiller Clutch on my Spirit 6.5 from North American Yacht and after a sea trial it lead me to have to send you this lines. In my 28 years of sailing, I have never experience a simple mechanical device that make sailing so comfortable. The simplicity and yet the performance of the device really exceeded my expectations. I can say you are honestly selling what you are advertising. Thank you for making sailing more enjoyable for 60+ Sailors like me. Now I can set course in a jiff and not lose it, turning nobs to lock the tiller.
I've tried all kinds of tiller steering devices, and the TillerClutch is the gold standard
—words and photo by Rick, northern Scotland, UK
“ Great Product. I just installed the TillerClutch on my C&C 24. In 12 to 14 kts. of breeze The boat sailed itself for about ½ hour, staying on course within 5 degrees. It took me a few minutes to get the sails set correctly and fine tune the rudder setting – after that it was a breeze. I also used it while under power to raise and lower the mainsail. I sail by myself 90% of the time in Long Island Sound – out of Noank , CT. and this product will be a big help.”
— Words and photo by: Bob, Noank, Connecticut
I just wanted to let you know what I think of the tiller clutch. I installed it in my Marshall 18 two weeks ago and had my first trial run this weekend on a 20 mile sail. Out-frigging-standing. Install took about 10 minutes and I honestly don't know how I lived without it for so many years. Under power it keeps me on track forever. Under sail, it's not an autopilot, but it gives me an extra couple of minutes to do whatever I need to away from the tiller. Thank you!!
Thanks Pete, I just ordered. Hope to see it real soon. By the way I am very impressed at how you are involved in your product. I saw where you posted in Trailer Sailor when someone was having a problem. That is awesome!
“ I Had a weekend on the boat. I can not believe how much your TillerClutch has transformed my enjoyment of the boat. Quite simply it is brilliant and I used it constantly not only for holding a course but more particularly to take some of the strain when sailing heeled over. First time I have ever written to a producer of goods but thought you might like to know. My very best wishes and every success with your company.”
— Words and photo by: Malcolm Ayres,
Pwllheli, North Wales, UK
Pete, Just wanted to say I love the tiller clutch. It has allowed me to sail my J22 alone on the occasions when my wife or a friend aren't available to go out. Freedom from others schedule is what your device has given me! Thank you.
I just started sailing 6-months-ago, but I've had powerboats all my
life. I have a little 19-foot daysailer that was a fixer-upper.
TillerClutch is great for single handing. I've had one on my Macgregor 26 and one on my Catalina 27. Probably the best piece of equipment I've bought. ”
—words and photos Capt. Richie Buehn Indialantic, FL
Wind & Surf Yacht Rigging www.rbrigging.com
“I think anyone who sails shorthanded needs some way to
get away from the tiller for brief periods of time. The reason why I
like this device is because it's the only one I have seen that has a
‘trigger’ that allows you to engage or disengage or adjust [course]
with one finger, without taking your hand off the tiller.”
“During my 11 mile ocean
delivery from Mission Bay to the start line of the ‘Around the
Coronados’ race I used the TillerClutch extensively.”...
“What I found was, rather than sitting and steering the whole way home,
I would slightly adjust the tiller every few minutes. This allowed me
to clean up the boat, eat lunch, shake out the reef, look around and
relax all while steering a reasonable course.”
I recently purchased a TillerClutch for our 2010 Catalina 22 MK II ...
After spending several hours single handing on the lake in 15 knot
winds it was a real joy to be able to lock the tiller on course to be
able to move about the boat as well as go below to grab a bottle of
water from the cooler. The TillerClutch is a great product and is far
superior to any of the other tiller control and lockdown products
available on the market today. I will definitely recommend this to all
of my sailing friends. Thanks for a great product.
installed the TillerClutch this a.m. on my J 80. Took 10 minutes. Winds
on the Neuse 10-12 kts. Boats sailed upwind better than with autopilot.
Downwind was able to launch spinnaker singlehanded and later douse
without a bit of trouble. Very nice product that does what it sets out
“I'll be posting a
‘very satisfied customer’ item in January on [WaveFront's] marvel TillerClutch…I
will say, if you're ever struggling in 20 to 25 knots winds, and waves of
2 to 3 feet, in 50 degree weather on the ocean trying to get ‘home,’ you'll
want to have the TillerClutch on your tiller. Never once in the eight hours
from CLO [Cape Lookout, N.C.] to Beaufort Inlet did it ever fail me.”
me tell you about the TillerClutch. It is wonderful! One of the biggest
differences that I like about it [compared with other products] is the
quick release. You do not have to tighten or loosen anything with
it...just a quick click and it's done...so if you get in a bind and
need to release, it only takes a second. It is also much more durable,
very well made... The TillerClutch is not plastic; it is all metal,
permanently lubricated and protected against corrosion… it is small but
can take what it needs to, to handle your tiller for you. The sail
community that I am part of loves it. We have several who are using it
and would not go back to any other method of taming their tiller. Worth
every dollar! … It's the ticket as far as I am concerned.”
find the TillerClutch to be high quality, and to work very well. The
line slips through excellently when I do not want to clutch it and then
holds fast when I do… The toggle lever makes it very easy to operate
with one hand. I appreciate that it is not plastic, so it will not
break and should be the last clutch I will need to purchase for my
Note: The following tests and reviews were completely voluntary. The evaluator has no connections with WaveFront, Inc. or its owners.
“I do a lot of extensive single hand sailing,
James Baumgart is a well-known sailor/racer in the waters of Southern California. You can read more about his adventures aboard his Catalina 25 Indiscipline III on his website. His comments and photos regarding the TillerClutch can be seen on the Catalina 25/250 forum. Below are his independent reviews of the TillerClutch:
No. 2, San Diego April 21, 2010
First of all I do a lot of extensive single hand sailing, on the order of 170 days at sea per year and about 2,000 miles sailed per year. I do this nearly every day. I have been doing so for 5 years, so I have most sailing tasks down to a perfected routine. I can even set, gybe and douse my spinnakers single handed. I sail in Southern California ocean waters – so generally mild winds and moderate seas, but since I sail year round I can, and do, see some big wind and big sea days. I race and cruise. I do have a boat nearly perfectly balanced and as completely set up for single handing as any you will see. I have all lines led to the cockpit (19 lines) and have an old, but functional, tiller pilot. The tiller pilot has, at times, failed me and I’ve always wanted a good backup. Once, I was about 100 miles from home, 40 miles offshore and about 20 miles from my destination for the night when I caught a fish. During the fight, I stepped on the autopilot cable, breaking it. I didn’t really have the option of continuing on without the autopilot. So I hove to and did a repair, soldering and fixing wires far from land. Since then I have wanted a viable backup.
Yesterday evening winds were about 10 to 15 and seas about 4 feet at very close interval. I put on my big 155% jib (which is overpowered at 12 knots) and full main. The boat was intentionally set up on the verge of being slightly overpowered in the gusts. I left the tiller pilot in storage and hooked up the TillerClutch.
The main channel at Mission Bay is narrow. Winds were on the nose, and there is a crane and barge doing work further constricting the channel. So the situation called for many sharp, quick tacks to get out of the bay. With the TillerClutch I was able to really improve my tacking. What I did was put the tiller over for an easy tack, then engage the clutch. As the boat came around, I first cut the genoa sheet, then shifted the lazy sheet to the winch. As the boom crossed the boat, I reached back and gave the TillerClutch a squeeze, centering the tiller, then relocking it. I then sheeted in and winched the new genoa sheet home. After that I returned to hand steering. This worked faster and better than any “auto tack” on the tiller pilot and much cleaner than my usual single handed technique of just putting the tiller down and letting it flop about while I worked the sheets (which always results in overshooting the tack).
Sailing upwind in a bumpy ocean
Once out of the harbor, I tested the TillerClutch on all points of sailing. Hard on the wind, it was possible to easily get the boat to self-steer. If a wave or gust pushed the bow up, the jib would slightly luff and it would come down. If the bow fell off, it wasn’t long before a wave or gust would push it up again. The boat yawed through about 20 degrees, but would stay on course.
Close reaching in rough seas, the boat would still self steer, but not as well. Yawing was wider. Tiller corrections were needed about every few minutes.
Beam reaching into the swell the boat would not self steer at all. The TillerClutch was useful for a few seconds at a time.
When it was time to turn for home I used the TillerClutch to gybe the boat through a gentle curve, using the same basic method as when tacking. This let me take my hands off the tiller to sheet the main and get the jib over.
On the way back home I was on a broad reach down swell with 4 to 5 footers on the aft quarter and winds still around 10 knots. Boat speed was around 5 knots. The boat would not self steer at all. She would surf at times and big swells would just knock the bow 45 degrees off course. Nothing would bring her back on course but hand steering. I’m sure my autopilot would have been yawing all over the ocean as well. Of course this is a fin keel, spade rudder boat.
Once in the harbor, I set the TillerClutch to get the nav lights on and to prepare for dropping sails. In the calmer waters I started the engine, dropped the jib all without touching the tiller (no roller furling on my boat). I made a slight tiller adjustment and got the engine in gear, main down and flaked. I made another slight adjustment and sailed into my marina basin, got fenders deployed and dock lines ready. I then disconnected the TillerClutch and put the line away for another day.
I sailed the whole evening without the autopilot and frankly never needed it.
One thing for sure – I DON’T want to give you the test unit back. I really like it, and I think I can keep my autopilot in the box for those long 60 mile deliveries under power. I’ll get you the photos tomorrow of my totally simple installation. I don’t believe I spent more than $10 on everything needed to get this going. The lines don’t interfere with my seating nor with access to the engine, instruments, or controls. My canvas tiller cover fits over the TillerClutch without a problem.
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