Cool New Gear for 2002

New Products

Courtesy Of Helly Hansen

Wet boat, dry boat, near shore, or way offshore, dressing for a day on the racecourse will have you thinking about the conditions you’re likely to encounter. Sailing World’s editors asked gear manufacturers what was brand new for this year and then tested a selection of new gear. These are some of their favorites.

Magic Marine Rashguard
"Whoever invented a black rashguard was off their rocker," says Libby Carroll, SW editorial assistant. "At least that's what I realized after trying a white one for the first time. Although the heat intensified every time I roll tacked my Laser," says Carroll, "the Lycra rashguard protected me from the heat and sun instead of creating a greenhouse effect on my back the way black ones do." Magic Marine products are distributed in the United States by Aquata USA. $36, http://www.magicmarine.com, 305-326-6777

Helly Hansen Challenge Jacket
"Helly Hansen's new zip-front fleece Challenge Jacket has a thick collar and deep pockets," says Peter d'Anjou, executive editor. "I used it while delivering my Soverel 33 from Newport to Marblehead for the PHRF New England Championships. It was a great layer for a cool overnight sail and, unlike a pullover, was easy to put on and take off." $80, http://www.hellyhansen.com

Gill Gore-Tex Boots
"I wore Gill's new Gore-tex boots on two occasions," says John Burnham, chief editor, "once during an August cruise on Penobscot Bay, where we only had rain on the deck, and again on a rough overnight delivery of my International One-Design." In the second case, I put them on over wet feet and damp polypropylene socks and my feet immediately warmed up. They only got a little chilly when I sat still for a long period. When I laid the boots in the sun the next day for 30 minutes, they heated up beautifully." $279, http://www.gillna.com

%image1%Helly Hansen Yachting Bib
"Helly Hansen's Yachting Bib doesn't pretend to be anything but inshore gear," says Dave Reed, managing editor, who tested the new bibs while racing as bowman on J/24s and Ynglings. "If your typical race day starts and ends at the dock, then all you'll ever need in foul weather bibs is mid-range, lightweight, waterproof, breathable kit like this--all business, no frills gear. "There are no pockets or excessive fittings, and the design is form fitting (read, no excessive rear-end baggage). I tested them on a number of moist summer days with lots of spray and high humidity, and the bib worked extremely well--after a few high-intensity races there wasn't a lick of moisture on the interior lining." $140, http://www.hellyhansen.com

Native Sunglasses
"When it comes to sunglasses, polarizing technology is nothing new," says Stuart Streuli, associate editor. "But Native's new line of polarized sunglasses is still noteworthy. The lenses are great on the water, cutting the glare and bathing everything in a warm yellow tint. The frames are very light and comfortable and while the rubber nose pads may seem sticky under normal conditions, they're great once the sweat starts to build up--the glasses never slip. Perhaps most impressive is Native's price and lifetime warranty. If you ever break the glasses, they can be replaced for $20." $74.99, http://www.nativeyewear.com, 888-776-2848.

Bodyglove Bowline Sneakers
"Bodyglove's Bowline Sneakers have a thick rubber sole that extends around the toes to protect my feet in the cockpit," says Peter d'Anjou. "I wear them PHRF racing where I'm always using my feet to brace myself when steering on my boat. They have good traction on a wet deck and when I'm on our webmaster Jeff Roy's S2 9.1 trimming main, I'm always kicking the mainsheet out of the cam. With these sneakers, I'm comfortable, dry, and come home without any boat bites." $80, http://www.bodyglove.com

Oakley d.5 watch
"The Oakley d.5 watch has large and easy to read digits, the light is sharp, and the countdown timer's easy to use," says Libby Carroll. "It has many functions in terms of displays: you can view the time and date, or compare time zones. To top it off, unlike many sport watches, Oakley's watch can pass in some formal environments." $165, http://www.oakley.com, 800-431-1439

Harken 500 Jacket
Harken is introducing a new line of Italian-designed clothing for 2002. "I tried out a prototype of the new 500 Jacket," says Peter d'Anjou. "It's not foul weather gear, per se; it's a windbreaker made of a waterproof, yet breathable fabric shell with a Techno Soft 2000 liner that wicks away moisture and is incredibly soft and comfortable. It has a removeable hideaway hood, adjustable neoprene cuffs, zippered pockets, and lifetime fabric protection to prevent stains or mildew. Mine had a faulty zipper but I'm told it'll be upgraded in production." $145, http://www.harken.com, 262-691-3320

Gath Helmet
Ellen MacArthur's harrowing climb up her rig in the Southern Ocean during the last Vendée Globe was a great advertisement for helmet use. "I'd be in pretty bad shape if I hadn't worn the helmet," she said afterwards. "While few of us will be climbing rigs in the high latitudes anytime soon," says Tony Bessinger, assistant editor, "it may be time to realize that helmets can be every bit as valuable as lifejackets in certain conditions."
MacArthur uses a Gath helmet, which is made of a shock-resistant, flexible polycarbonate shell lined with closed-cell foam, and weighs only 18 ounces. Designed to fit closely to the head, the Gath helmets also have a closeable ear opening. These helmets won't prevent your skull from being crushed by a swinging maxi boom--plastic technology isn't quite there yet--but with the optional visor, it will provide protection against most anything else the boat can throw at you, from flying clew rings to spinning winch handles. From $40, http://www.gathsports.com

Magic Marine Zipper Boots
"If you're trying to save ounces and looking for lightweight footwear, these are for you," says Ed Adams, a SW editor at large. "Cut shorter on the ankle than a standard hiking boot, they don't provide the same support as a full-length boot. Construction is neoprene with a hard rubber reinforcement/ padding on the instep. A short zipper locked with Velcro provides a secure fit and makes them easy to slip on." Distributed by Aquata USA, $69, http://www.magicmarine.com, 305-326-6777

Magic Marine Competition Jacket
"This vest-style lifejacket's excellent in cool weather and water," says John Burnham. "I wore it overnight outside a dinghy smock and enjoyed the warmth provided by its neoprene side panels. As a bonus, the foam sections naturally padded whatever I leaned against in front and back. I found I could accidentally pull the waist belt out, but it went back into its stitched enclosure easily. I'd recommend wearing a rashguard or shirt with a collar so the vest won't chafe at the neck." $79.90, http://www.magicmarine.com, 305-326-6777

Maui Jim Sunglasses
"When I was a kid and first started wearing sunglasses it took me a while to get used to their feel," says Tony Bessinger, assistant editor. "I wasn't accustomed to the weight and, even today, wearing shades for any length of time can be uncomfortable. Maui Jim has introduced a line of sunglasses that are very light--11 grams--and feel so light, that you forget there's anything's on your head. The temples are made using a combination of titanium, aluminum, and vanadium giving them strength with flexibility. The silicon nosepads adjust for a custom fit and are barely noticeable. More than just lightweight, the sunglasses are scratch and impact-resistant and also sport Maui Jim's PolarizedPlus technology, a combination of polarizing film, bi-gradient coating, and anti-reflective treatment. It sounds technical but works like a champ, cutting down the glare far better than any shades I've ever used." $249, http://www.mauijim.com, 888-628-4546

Helly Hansen Lifa Zip-Top
"I tested Helly's long underwear along with their yachting bibs on the J/24," says Dave Reed. "In the spring and fall, I recommend adding Helly's Lifa poly- propylene long underwear base layer to your wardrobe--it's underlayer bliss." $34 each for top and bottom, http://www.hellyhansen.com