Reflex Performance Sailing Gloves by Harken

After wearing them throughout 2007 Acura Key West Race Week, senior editor Stuart Streuli gives Harken's Reflex Performance Sailing Gloves the thumbs up.

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I go back and forth on sailing gloves. There's a part of me, a vestige of my youth, which would prefer not to wear them. When I was sailing six days a week in college, and primarily sailing dinghies, this was a viable option. My hands were tough enough I didn't really need gloves and the loads were fairly small. But now I spend Monday through Friday pounding the keyboard, so I knew I wouldn't make it through seven straight days of trimming on a Mumm 30 without a little protection for my hands. For 2007 Acura Key West Race Week, Harken offered up a pair of Reflex Performance Sailing Gloves, the latest in its Black Magic line, and I eagerly accepted.Black with red stitching and accents and grey trim, the Reflex gloves are not for the fashionably conservative sailor. Putting them on for the first time I was undecided whether I felt more like I was about to take on a twisty mountain pass in Ferrari's latest speedster or I was slipping on the final part of my Darth Vader costume for a Halloween party. They just didn't feel much like sailing gloves. In particular, the palms were smooth leather, rather than the rougher material I'd come to expect. The mesh back extended from the second knuckle on each finger to the wrist, and the hook-and-loop closure was on the underside of the wrist, rather than the top.This last feature is a good indication that Harken spent a good team of time thinking about these gloves. If you place your watch face on the top of your wrist, as I do, there's a strong chance you've lost a countdown at some point because as you bent your wrist during a maneuver, one of the hook-and-loop tabs accidentally pressed a button on your watch. Having the tabs on the underside of the wrist will eliminate this possibility.According to Harken, the material used in the palm of its gloves is designed specifically to grip modern synthetic line. I didn't do any side-by-side tests with other gloves, but I can say that I found the grip of the Reflex gloves to be excellent. I never had a line slip unexpectedly all week. As for durability, after a week of trimming the gloves show little, if any, wear. These gloves have many more regattas in them.On final attribute of the gloves that I quite liked is that they dry soft, rather than stiff. Midway through the week I threw mine in the washer, and then the dryer-though the care tag says not to machine dry-and they came out as soft as the first day I put them on, and hadn't shrunk a bit. The Reflex gloves come in two versions, the three-quarter finger for $34 and the full finger (aka three-finger) for $36. www.harken.com