SAIL’s annual Pittman Innovation Awards recognize the most innovative products in the sailboat market each year. Editor-in-chief Peter Nielsen and his team have awarded 15 new sailing products for 2010, which appear on page 64 of SAIL’s 40th Anniversary February 2010 issue and will be featured at SAIL’s Innovation Station during the Strictly Sail Chicago Boat Show: January 28-January 31, 2010.
Peter Nielsen’s three Cruising Gear awards went to the Ding-EZ, Harken’s line of Radial Winches, and the CT SnuffAir. The Ding-EZ bar makes it easier and safer to get in and out of an inflatable; the frame fits around the floor of an inflatable, and its 38″ safety bar can support a load of 350 pounds. Harken’s Radial winch takes a new approach to design; with its composite roller bearings and bushings, the weight is reduced by 20-50% over equivalent conventional winches. CT Snuff Air’s spinnaker retrieval system replaces the traditional bucket with an inflatable spinnaker sock hoop that takes up a fraction of the space and makes trying to retrieve your chute while cruising much easier.
In the Racing Gear category, David Schmidt chose North Sails 3Di Sails, Hall Spars SCR/S, and Spinlock’s ZS Ropesense. North Sails new 3Di sails are created using an innovative process involving an advanced robotic plotter that applies state-of-the-art synthetic fibers as individual ribbons of string, each a filament thick. The filaments are then shaped on an articulating drum, vacuum bagged and laminated. In 2008, Hall Spars revolutionized synthetic rigging with its Seamless Carbon Rigging (SCR). The SCR/S is Hall’s new 2.0 version, which creates an ultra-low draft airfoil shape and will make any boat sail faster. Spinlock’s ZS Ropesense load-cell unit has the ability to tell you how much load is on your headsail sheets. The unit can relay load data via an LCD display to a laptop. Rated for either 11,000 or 22,000 pounds, both monitor continuous and peak loads.
The FLIR First Mate took the Safety Gear category with its handheld thermal night-vision camera. This unit has the ability to detect and display thermal differentials, delivering clear images in both nighttime and low-visibility conditions. Sailors will want the First Mate on board in case of a nighttime MOB emergency or if guiding a boat through darkness, fog or rocky coastline.
Electronics expert Tim Bartlett recognized the following innovative products in the Electronics category: Jotron’s AIS SART; Inmarsat’s Fleet Broadband 150; Garmin’s Analog-NMEA2000 Adapters and the NKE Regatta Processor. The Jotron AIS SART is an important advancement in safety electronics. With its search and rescue beacon that transmits a dedicated identity code and GPS position, it can mark the position of a liferaft or vessel in distress on the bridge display of any AIS-equipped ship within range. Inmarsat’s FB150 offers voice, text and data connections with landline quality and an affordable price (hardware available for under $5,000) along with a dome measuring less than one foot. Garmin came up with a range of analog adapters that convert analog data from old sensors to digital NMEA 2000 data that can be read by the latest generation of instruments and multifunction displays. The new NKE Regatta Processor crunches numbers on its wind data 25 times per second (whereas other instruments are only capable of one or a few times a second) which means smoother readouts, more accurate calibration and more accurate true wind data.
Technical editor Jay Paris chose Mastervolt Lithium-Ion Batteries, the Kenyon Silken, Forespar Truplug and Raritan Seafresh as winners in the Systems category. Mastervolt’s MLI 24/160 is the first lithium-ion battery for the marine market. They are 1/3 as large, weigh 1/3 as much and have 3 times the cycle capacity of a conventional lead-acid battery. The Kenyon Silken is a high-temperature silicone mat designed to fit onto a Kenyon cook top and protect it from scratches and breakage. The mat’s outer rims provide spill protection and its special surface can reportedly keep a pan in place at heeling angles of up to 30 degrees. The high-visibility, cone-shaped soft foam Forespar Truplug is designed to plug leaks of all shapes and sizes. Raritan’s Marine Elegance toliet with the SeaFresh flushing system, is the only electric marine toliet that allows the user to select either seawater or freshwater flushing.
These awards are named in honor of Freeman K. Pittman, SAIL’s technical editor for 14 years who tragically died in 1996 from ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease). The 2010 Pittman Innovation Award winners will be featured at SAIL’s Innovation Station during the Strictly Sail Chicago Boat Show, located at Navy Pier at booth #420.
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