User Feedback
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

Test Reviews


“ 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. ”
—Jaime P., Miami, Florida

“ I've tried all kinds of tiller steering devices, and the TillerClutch is the gold standard ”
—Steve Haines, Panama City, Florida

18 1/2 foot made by GF Marine “ Looks like an excellent idea...... will let you know how I get on with my "wee boat". Parcel arrived safely yesterday and fitted the Clutch in about 10 mins this morning - looks like it will do exactly what I wanted. Thanks for the excellent service - I'll keep you posted (unless it steers me over to Norway) Took the wee boat out yesterday in a force 3-4 with a (to me) heavy swell running around 8 - 10 feet. Tried your tillerclutch out first on a beam reach, wondering how many seconds it would give me as I was bouncing around like a cork in a washing machine - after around 4 minutes I had to take over as I was running out of sea! Equally stable on a couple of hard windward beats, and a broad reach. (Didn't try running as the swell really was getting high for such a small boat). Absolutely brilliant bit of kit - despite paying retail price, shipping, UK tax, and a post office handling charge, I wouldn't hesitate in re-ordering. I wish you every success with this piece of gear - it'll transform my sailing experience here in Scotland. Well done.”
—words and photo by Rick, northern Scotland, UK

Bob-Connecticut “ 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!! ”
—Jed, West Yarmouth, Massachusetts

“ 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! ”
—Mike, Jacksonville, Florida

Malcolm's boat in the UK “ 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. ”
—Mark, Readfield, Maine

“ 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.
I've taken a sailing class to get some instruction and now I mostly single-hand my boat.  Being small and light, it gets bounced around on the waves a lot so you have to keep ahold of the tiller.  It's hard to even 18 1/2 foot made by GF Marine pour a cup of coffee if it's choppy, let alone raise the jib, etc.
I had been looking at products (the tiller tamer) and trying some of my own ideas, but they were either cumbersome, or too hard to lock-unlock to make minor adjustments.
I saw your add on the web and the more I read the more I was convinced that it addressed all of the problems created by other means of  locking the tiller in a small boat.
It took an hour to install... most of that time figuring out exactly the best location to clear everything else and be in a comfortable position for the skipper.  Actual manual labor time was 10 minutes.
Your TillerClutch is fantastic.  It is  so enjoyable to sail a course, not having to constantly hang onto the tiller.  I usually rest my hand on the tiller, but I don't have to "steer."  I can toggle it off-and-on for minor corrections and it holds a course while I've being bounced around by gusting winds and chop.  It has taken away the most annoying part of sailing (for me).
I've seen the actual Tiller Tamer and it doesn't begin to measure up to the TillerClutch in terms of simplicity or ease of use, especially when it comes to tweaking it for those minute adjustments.... not to mention rugged quality.
I'm impressed with what you have done and I think it would benefit at lot of other sailers.“
—words and photo Jeff Havir,  Phoenix, AZ

In the 30 years I have been messing with sail boats I believe I have tried every tiller control device out there. The TillerClutch is quite simply the best I have ever used. Beautiful workmanship and design. It is incredibly easy to set and to release and it has held perfectly in 15 knot winds (the highest I've had the opportunity yet to try ). Congrats on such an accomplishment!
—"Ukelele" Dave (comment posted on " The WaveFront TillerClutch Sets Sail "  YouTube page)

"I have a 19 foot Bristol Corinthian that I sail out of Portsmouth NH. TPeter Stockless_Bristol Corinthianhe tidal river creates areas where the current can run as fast as 5 knots. With the fast current, rocks and commercial fisherman, a secure way to tying off the tiller to set and furl sails is very  important. I sail single handed at least three times a week during the season.  I installed the TillerClutch at the beginning of the 2010 season after trying several other methods of tying off the tiller. The TillerClutch was simple to install and set up.  It works exactly as promised. The control line is out of the way, and I can remove or reinstall it quickly when guests are on board.  The action of the lever is smooth and positive.  The TillerClutch has perfectly weighted springs.  The finish on the lever is smooth and the edges are rounded just right.  So many new items available today have really neat electronic features, but the ergonomics and mechanical interface  are cheap and poorly executed. I have recommended the TillerClutch to all of my sailing friends. "
—words and photo Peter Stockless, York, Maine

“ 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. ”
—R Miller, Anacortes Washington and Bayfield Colorado

"Just used my new TillerClutch on my F242 trimaran yesterday. Corsair with TillerClutch Really love it.  On my previous boat, I had modified a Tiller Tamer with a quick release from a bicycle hub to operate as a clutch.  That worked good and I was about to do the same thing when I came across your product.  I like the fingertip access and the action of the clutch.  With the bicycle lever, I could vary the amount of friction on the line, and I thought I would miss that, but found I don't really need it.  As a singlehander, there are so many times I need to leave to tiller for just a few seconds, but the trimaran is so light and responsive, I can't without controlling the tiller, and setting the autopilot takes too long.  The TillerClutch works great for these times.  Thanks for a great product!"
words and photos Capt. Richie Buehn Indialantic, FL
Wind & Surf Yacht Rigging

“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.”
—Steve Milby, Chesapeake Bay
Past Commodore of Catalina 25 National Assn.
C25 National Champion 1985, 2003.

“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.”
—James Baumgart, California
Past Commodore of Catalina 25 National Assn.
Read his full Test Reviews below.

“ 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. ”
—Tony Furst, Ohio

“Just 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 to do.”
—Ken Lury, coastal N.C.

“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.”
—Buck B, Fayetteville, N.C.

“Let 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 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.”
—Bobbi L, Raleigh, N.C.

“I 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 boat.”
—Cliff B, Apex, N.C.

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Test Reviews

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,
on the order of 170 days at sea per year
and about 2,000 miles sailed per year...”

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:

Review No. 1, During the 2010 Silver Gate Yacht Club / San Diego All Catalina Association Coronados Islands race.
April 17–18, 2010
by James Baumgart, CA

During my 11 mile ocean delivery from Mission Bay to the start line of the ‘Around the Coronados’ race I used the TillerClutch extensively. This was an early morning motor sail in calm winds and fairly large seas on the aft quarter (5 feet). The device worked very well. It is so easy to flick on and off. The boat is hypersensitive to even a 1/8 inch move of the tiller. The trick is to carefully set the boat on course. Get the tiller very stable in your hand. Then click the lever. In many cases, the boat would hold a good course for 5 to 10 minutes. A simple squeeze of the lever allows a minute tiller adjustment. Once inside San Diego harbor, the device worked even better. I did not use the autopilot at all on the delivery, nor did I ever feel a need to do so.

During the race, we were quite busy and very competitive. For the 15 mile run out to the island we did not have the [TillerClutch control] line even hooked up. I like how quick and easy it is to disconnect and put away, and how quick and easy it is to set up when you want it. I was trimming and doing foredeck and my friend was at the helm most of the way over.

After rounding the island, we were in very rough seas and complex, shifting winds coming off the lee of the island. Shortly after we blew out of the lee, we went up with my reaching spinnaker. After the hoist, I took the helm. I quickly ran the control line and hooked up the TillerClutch. This would be about the toughest conditions you could test in. Rough seas on the beam, winds about 10 knots on the beam, spinnaker up, in a competitive race. My crew was hiking out so I was helming and trimming.

Now there is no way the autopilot could have steered in these conditions and kept the spinnaker full. Locking the tiller did not steer the boat to a competitive race level, either.

I found I could lock the tiller for a few seconds while trimming without a serious course change. This gave me a way to let go, just for a couple of seconds, and attend to a task like trimming the guy. I definitely liked having the device hooked up when short handed in the cockpit.

After the race, the next day I headed home 11 miles upwind. Once again motor sailing, this time in winds about 15 knots, right on the nose, with seas about 3 feet on the port nose (about 11 o’clock). I had the main reefed. I did not use the autopilot at all on the way home. It was easy to hook up the TillerClutch, and easy to steer with it disengaged. The TillerClutch when disengaged adds a slight friction to the tiller, nothing too noticeable. In these conditions, it was hard for the boat to hold a course for long with the TillerClutch engaged. Every minute or so a wave would knock the bow to leeward and the wind would take the boat down. I adjusted the tiller for a slight curving course to windward, and the boat would hold course for a couple of minutes.

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 took some photos of my installation. Even though I complained last week about the need to re-tension the line when the tiller is hard over, in practice I never needed to re-tension the line. I never tried to heave the boat to.

I’ll publish the photos so you can look at what I did. I showed the device to several fellow sailors. I’ll do some more testing under full sail and also try heaving to. It is so simple. I really like how easy it is to set up, use, and put away. After I put the line away for the day, when motoring back into my slip I found myself clicking the lever on the (now empty) TillerClutch.

I did not use the autopilot the entire weekend except when flaking the main single handed while motoring back to the slip in the crowded harbor. And I mainly did this to make sure the autopilot would not get tangled up on the clutch line.

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Review No. 2, San Diego April 21, 2010
by James Baumgart, CA

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.

Single Hand Tacking
Out of the Harbor

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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