Gizmos Galore: Scoping Out Smart Gear in Annapolis

From a speedo for dinghies to a jacket wired for sound, these new products seen at the 2008 U.S. Sailboat Show make intelligent use of the latest technology. "Gear Up" from our October 22, 2008, /SW eNewsletter/

GUSpeedWatch368

Www.oceanequipment.com

Walking the docks at the annual U.S. Sailboat Show in Annapolis, Md., it's easy to get overwhelmed, not just by the crosseyed and painless masses at the Pusser's pavilion, but by the sheer amount of stuff to see. I spent four days wandering this year's show, and I still didn't cover everything. Of the new gear I did see, here are a few picks that could be of particular interest to racers:

SpeedWatch by JDC

This jumbo-sized digital watch combines with an included impeller and wireless transmitter to provide real-time boatspeed and distance information as well as the usual countdown timer functions. The impeller mounts on the underside of the hull, or on a flip-up skeg attached to the transom, and connects to the wireless transmitter. Mounted opposite the impeller on the inside of the hull, the transmitter beams data directly to the watch. Because the system is self-powered and offers the option of a transom-mounted skeg, it's ideal for use on Lasers and other ramp-launched dinghies. The SpeedWatch might not be class legal, but it could be a helpful practice tool. At $300, it might even make a fun holiday gift for the dinghy sailor on your list.
www.oceanequipment.com

Courtesy SCAD Technologies The Doubloon LED cabin light features touch control of power, dimming, and color.

Doubloon LED Lights by SCAD Technologies

Cabin lights might not excite you, but what about cabin lights with a hip, iPod influence? These advanced LED lights feature a touch-sensitive control integrated into the bezel. Tap the edge with one finger to turn on. Tap it with two fingers to turn off. Touch three fingers to change the color from bright white to soft red. Swirl your finger around the circumference to adjust brightness. Individual lights synchronize wirelessly with other lights set to the same frequency, so you can control all lights by adjusting any one of the controls. This wireless connectivity makes for simple installation, as you only have to connect one wire to each unit. These lightweight, energy-efficient, color-changing lights seem like a smart choice for distance racing. So far, only a prototype exists, but the Doubloon should go into full scale production soon.
www.sailorssolutions.com

Wrap Pins by Johnson Marine Hardware

Does this scenario sound familiar? It's seconds before your starting sequence, you've barely finished adjusting the rig, and now you're frantically trying to tie the little line between the two turnbuckles before the gun goes off. Enter Wrap Pin, the stunningly simple solution to this pre-race nightmare. It's just a strip of Velcro with an embedded cotter pin. Insert cotter pin into turnbuckle, wrap Velro to secure. It's quick, reliable, and foolproof.
$7.75, www.csjohnson.com

MP3 Jacket by Gul

Word on the street is that Gul is developing a coastal jacket with an iPod controller integrated into the sleeve. Future versions could also feature speakers embedded in the hood. I can't say when the jacket will go into production (in fact, I'm not sure it even has a name yet), but I saw a prototype, and it seemed pretty slick-- the audio components are subtly incorporated in a fully capable foul-weather jacket. Aside from the novelty of having built-in tunes, the prospect of connecting the system with an iPhone or VHF radio gives this jacket exciting potential.
www.gul.com

"Gear Up" from our October 22, 2008, /SW eNewsletter/