A winch is a tool that is mostly used to lift, position or slacken big and heavy things. Most winches are used at shipping traffic. There are different kind of winches, some use a chain, but the most of the times a winch has a winding drum for the cable or rope, a transmission and a motor.
In small boating hand operated winches are still used, but automated winches are seen here more often.
Smaller winches which are used in watersports are often at the side of the water, and pull a wakeboarder, wakeskater or waterskier over the water. The use of winches in this way is often called "winching". The reason winches are being made and used is because it's a cheaper way to wakeboard as behind a boat. And it's a good way to go skiing or snowboarding without mountains.
More important even; winches are small and versatile, you can install them at many places and use them in many ways. They are used in many kinds of sports like; kneeboarding, funtubing, snowboarding, skateboarding, wakeboarding, bmxing, stepping, inline skating, and more.
The base of a winch is the motor, most of the times replicas from Honda engines with a horizontal axle are being used. These motors are also used for karts, lawnmowers and water pumps. Most of the winches are still gasoline powered, but more and more electric driven winches are being build. In combination with an battery or generator these motors are able to produce way more torque as a gasoline powered winch. The motors are often placed on a self designed frame, on this frame there is a drum which is connected to the motor by a chain or a clutch. On the drum there is a line with a handle, the length of this line differs from 100 to 500 meters.