Annapolis Show Stokes Material Desires

Web editor Michael Lovett found plenty of gear for his wish list at the U.S. Sailboat Show in Annapolis, Md. "Gear Up" from our October 9, 2007, /SW eNewsletter/


Michael Lovett

I've just returned from the U.S. Sailboat Show in Annapolis, Md., where the sailing industry convenes each fall to show off its latest doodads. Cruising the docks and tents, I visited a few of the show's 600 exhibitors to scope out new products for "Gear Up." I found new releases and old standbys, items you wouldn't want to leave the dock without, and items designed to be left at the dock.I wasn't quite sure what the fascinating gadgets I spied on display at the Spinlock booth were supposed to do--they looked like mini, high-tech pasta extruders--but I couldn't resist fiddling around with them. Spinlock representative Alex Foster caught me before I could destroy one of his PXR cam cleats, which he said could be used for everything from spinnaker halyards to cunninghams. These ice-cube-size cleats have adjustable release springs, so you can control how much tension the cleat keeps on the line once it's released.Elsewhere in the world of deck hardware, Schaefer has modified the jaws of its cam cleats to make them easier to activate and release. The flared out jaw design looks to be far more forgiving, accommodating a wider range of sheeting angles and requiring less force by the user. Add a Schaefer cam cleat to your mainsheet tackle and you'll be ready when the next big puff hits.Another way to upgrade your rigging would be to invest in a few of Ronstan's Orbit Blocks. These blocks utilize advanced polymers and fibers to achieve maximum strength-to-weight ratios. In designing these ultra lightweight blocks, Ronstan eliminated as many metal components as possible, even replacing steel shackles with Dyneema Link loops. For those applications where steel shackles are necessary, Tylaska provides a convenient solution. The company's classic trigger release shackles, such as the T8 CB, can be easily released with the pull of a finger. Attach a plug fid and a lanyard to the setup, and you can release the shackle remotely. Although the 80-degree temperatures in Annapolis called for swim trunks, I spent a good deal of my time quizzing foul-weather gear manufacturers about their selections of salopettes and trousers in preparation for a comparative test. For inshore and coastal racing, the trend in these all-important garments is toward lighter, more flexible materials. Slam's RC Long John has an elastic waistband to keep weight off of the shoulders and roomy mesh armholes for increased mobility. The Slam overalls also benefit from Cordura reinforcement in high wear areas, as do Henri Lloyd's TP2 Shadow Salopettes and Gill's Key West Trousers. Representatives for Musto were so confident in the durability of their product that they challenged us to compare a three-year-old pair of their Gore-Tex Middle Layer Salopettes against new garments from other manufacturers. For all the high performance fabrics and advanced polymers present at the show, perhaps the most ingenious product I saw came in the form of a plastic doughnut. The CordPro by Burktek Incorporated is a simple tool intended to organize tangle-prone items like shore power cables and garden hoses. Compartments on either side of the plastic spool keep cords running cleanly (although I can't for the life of me figure out how) and a grommet lets you hang the entire contraption on a dock post for easy retrieval. The CordPro seems like a great solution for anyone whose shore power cable is currently dangling off a dock post or wallowing in the bilge. Look for reviews of these and other products from the Annapolis show in future editions of "Gear Up."