Sailing World’s Annual Gift Guide

From inexpensive to outlandish, any of this gear will satisfy the racing sailor in your life. "Tech News" from our November/December 2006 issue.

November 15, 2006


Photos Courtesy Of Manufacturers

It’s that time of year when you’re either trying to figure out what gifts to give, or how to let people know what you want. We’re here to help. On the following pages you’ll find gifts from $3.99 to well over $100,000. We’ve tested many of the products, others we just think are cool.

The Leukemia Cup has been raising funds for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society for 14 years and has raised more than $20 million to help fund research and services for blood cancer patients. If you can’t make it to one of their regattas, show your support by purchasing a few SailFast bracelets for your crew. They’re made by North Sails and retail for $3.99,

Every butterfingered sailor will appreciate the Key Buoy from Davis Instruments. The Key Buoy automaticallyinflates a bright orange tube once it hits the water, keeping afloat objects weighing 4.2 ounces or less. It’s a one-shot deal, so buy a few. $6.95, [


]( you’d like to brighten somebody’s cubicle, or even your own, with daydreaming fodder, think calendars. Yachting photographers Onne van der Wal and Sharon Green, two of the best in the business, have calendars packed with images guaranteed to fire up the juices of any sailor. And, our own Doctor of Disaster has unearthed another collection of crashes, capsizes, and shredded kites for Sailing World’s Best of Dr. Crash calendar.,,

Anyone who has scraped a knuckle opening fuel, water, or holding tank cover plates will appreciate the KeyWiz. The ergonomic plastic body, which floats, has two stainless steel pins, one of which is adjustable to fit most any cover plate. The top of the KeyWiz accepts a 3/8-inch drive ratchet for some additional torque. $19.99,

We’re fans of LED lighting because of the long life and low power requirements. We also like to travel light. Satisfying both of our needs is the PakLite, a 1.5-ounce flashlight that snaps to any 9-volt battery and supplies 200 to 1,200 hours of light (longer with a Lithium battery). From $24, www.9volt


There are more than a few books available for the racing sailor, but a few of our favorites include Fastnet, Force 10 by John Rousemaniere; Chapman Piloting and Seamanship; Sailing for Dummies by JJ and Peter Isler; The Race by Tim Zimmerman; Fatal Storm by Rob Mundle; All This and Sailing, Too by Olin Stephens; Comeback by Dennis Conner; Temple to the Wind by Chris Pastore; Heavy Weather Sailing by K. Adlard Coles; and Understanding the Racing Rules of Sailing Through 2008 by Dave Perry.

The expense of replacing a broken wind indicator is annoying. But for any Laser sailor that’s had one ripped off their bow or mast during a close quarters mark rounding-the usual culprit being an opponent’s mainsheet-the bigger pain is sailing the remainder of the day without the vital feedback the instrument provides. To avoid such a situation, Ryan Minth, a member of the 2005 U.S. Sailing Team, created the C-Vane. This mast-mounted wind indicator has protection above and below the pivot point and wayward mainsheets slide off the frame and harmlessly spin the vane. $35,

Running low on battery power sucks, especially when you need to listen to weather forecasts, charge your cell phone, or find you way around in the dark. Enter the Weather Channel’s Stormtracker Weather Alert Radio-Flashlight by Vector, an AM/FM/weather broadcast radio/flashlight/cell phone charger that can be powered by a hand crank or batteries. For the true information junkie, they also offer a hand-cranked television. Starting at $39.95, [


]( the bowman in your life, check out the opening prefeeder unit from Wichard. Wichard’s prefeeder eliminates the issue of jammed headsail luffs; open it, clear the jam, close it, and continue hoisting. $49.95, [

]( If you ever hear this sound as your $300 iPod takes a dip, its precious harddrive frying the second it touches the water, you’ll wish you had an OtterBox. These waterproof/drop-proof polycarbonate protective hard cases, the best we’ve seen for the price, are havens for fragile portable music players or handheld GPS receivers. A soft membrane allows you to work the iPod’s controls. Cases are available for all units in Apple’s iPod line, and are all watertight to three feet. From $49.95 (iPod Video) to $19.95 (iPod Shuffle). To make the ultimate combination, toss in a set of waterproof headphones from H20 Audio ($39.95).,

Although originally designed for backpackers and mountain climbers, Jetboil pressurized gas stoves are perfect for boats looking to reduce weight in the galley. At the core of Jetboil’s systems is its FluxRing technology, which enables Jetboil units to boil water twice as fast as competing stoves, while burning half as much fuel. From $80,


A watch with a countdown timer is a must for racers. We like watches that are easy to read and set, and the Timex Ironman OVA (optimal viewing angle) has been getting great reviews. Instead of being worn on the top or bottom of the wrist, the OVA is designed to sit on the side of the wrist and puts the display in your natural line of sight. From $69, makes terrific crew gear bags, and its latest, a waterproof backpack, is perfect for navigators. It has a large main compartment protected with a coated zipper, and a removable neoprene pouch for a laptop, which fits into an internal waterproof pocket. I made the mistake of letting a colleague take my demo to “try it out.” I haven’t seen it since. $150, [

]( has a new line of wetsuits designed specifically for dinghy sailing. All four styles of the Huraka wetsuits have “C-Mesh” neoprene on the upper torso to preserve core body temperature by reducing wind-chill and “Ultraspan” flex panels that allow a full range of arm movement. From $150,

Nobeltec announced upgrades for both its Visual Navigation Suite and its Admiral navigation software products. In addition to new features such as GRIB file (weather data) support through government sources or OCENS Weathernet (a subscription service) and data strip charts, each application will be able to take advantage of new racing software Nobeltec has developed, the Sailing Plus Pack. The Plus Pack displays polar data, enhanced boat tracking, laylines, and wind indicators, and works with B&G and Ockam instruments. Both VNS and Admiral can also now receive XM satellite radio’s subscription service WxWorx, showing live weather and sea conditions in near-coastal and inland waters. You’ll be able to view weather radar, wave heights, water temperature, and more in real-time, overlaid on your navigation screen. The information is delivered by a dual-redundant satellite transmission, and an S-Band signal prevents loss of signal during intense thunderstorms. XM satellite weather is a subscription service, but for those who haul out every winter, XM will suspend the service for the season at no charge, and re-activate it in the spring. Prices start at $495 for Visual Navigation Suite 9, $300 for the Sailing Plus Pack and the Weather Plus Pack.

For those with smaller boats, and a need for navigation and weather data, take a look at Garmin’s line of small GPS chartplotters that can display weather data from Sirius satellite radio. We used the 376C while racing on the Great Lakes last summer and were impressed with the brightness of the screen in broad daylight and the abundance of weather information. Subscriptions to Sirius weather start at $29.95 a month. Garmin weather-service-ready plotters start at $999,

Reducing weight aloft by replacing wire or rod rigging with more modern materials will work wonders for your boat’s performance and its righting moment. Thanks to some of the biggest names in marine rigging, it’s getting easier to do. West Marine Rigging offers PowerLite PBO rigging upgrades, Southern Spars offers Element C6 carbon rigging, Navtec uses PBO in its Z-System rigging, and Hall Spars is product testing carbon rigging. The least expensive of the new, high-tech rigging will cost roughly 30 percent more than rod, but reduces the weight aloft by more than half.,,,

Have you ever gotten to the racecourse and realized you’d left a key sail in your inventory on the dock? Or even a key crewmember? If you had a Protector, your shore crew would be able to deliver either before the first gun sounds. With its inflatable tubes and deep-V hull, a Protector is perfect as tender or coach boat. No self-respecting big-name program goes anywhere without their Protector boats these days. Available in lengths from 22 to 41 feet, Protectors start at around $150,000.


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