2017 Pittman Innovation Awards

pittmanjudgesLooking back over the years we’ve been running our Pittman Innovation Awards, it’s incredible to see the variety of different products that have been featured. There’s been everything from sails to navigation aids to clever little gadgets that can’t help but make you wonder, “Why didn’t I think of that?” In recent years, however, there has emerged a kind of existential battle between innovative mechanical products and the latest electronic miracles of the current digital age: with the digital side seeming to have come out on top in 2017, thanks to the advent of such things as yet more uses for AIS and a heads-up data display of the kind once available only to fighter pilots. Nonetheless, the guys with the wrenches clearly aren’t giving up, as is evident in products like one of the coolest blocks we’ve ever seen, a clever new folding propeller and even a fresh take on the lowly inspection port.

Most important of all, even after revolutionizing the sport to a point where it is almost unrecognizable compared to what it was a generation ago, the marine industry continues to do justice to the spirit of Freeman K. Pittman, SAIL’s long-time technical editor who died of Lou Gehrig’s disease in 1996, and for whom our Pittman Innovation awards are named. As in years past, our team of judges—executive editor Adam Cort, cruising editor Charles J. Doane, technical editor Jay Paris, and electronics editor Ben Ellison—roamed boat shows near and far in an effort to uncover the best of the best. And as always, the industry did not fail to impress.

Panpan MOB Beacon and APP

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Panpan MOB Beacon and APP

They say great things come in small packages, and this is definitely the case with the new PanPan MOB system, which employs any and all of a crew’s existing tablets and phones to track an errant crewmember in the event he or she goes over the side. In addition to its low cost and diminutive size, what really impressed our Overall Winner judges was its ease of use, not only for the skipper and other seasoned salts, but for newbies as well. It’s long been said that safety devices are only truly effective if you 1) actually use them and 2) know how they work. PanPan’s creators have solved both of these problems in a way that is both elegant and cleverly efficient. Read more…

Overall Winner Judges: Nigel Calder (systems expert and author), Tom Burden (author of the West Marine “advisor” series of articles), Gerry Douglas (chief designer and vice-president of Catalina Yachts)

Cruising

by Charles J. Doane

Mantus Scuba System

Mantus Scuba System

Many cruisers like the idea of carrying scuba gear, both for underwater exploration and underwater repair and maintenance jobs, but are thwarted by the expense and sheer bulk of the equipment involved. Now the folks at Mantus Anchors have shattered that barrier with a new compact lightweight mini-scuba kit that is both easy to stow and easy to use. Read more…

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Vetus ILT Universal Tank Inspection Ports

Vetus ILT Universal Tank Inspection Ports

No one worries more about what’s really inside their water and fuel tanks than a dedicated cruiser on the go. On many boats, tank inspection ports are an afterthought, but thanks to Dutch marine-systems specialist Vetus, that should soon be changing. Read more…

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GoFree Connected Vessel

GoFree Connected Vessel

When Navico created its GoFree brand in 2014, the ultimate goal was to create a comprehensive connection between you and your vessel via the Internet. Read more…

Safety

by Ben Ellison

McMurdo SmartFind G8 AIS EPIRB

McMurdo SmartFind G8 AIS EPIRB

The next generation EPIRB is almost here, and it adds a local rescue dimension to the renowned yet still improving global capabilities of the 406 MHz COSPAS-SARSAT system. Upon regular 406 transmitter activation, the McMurdo SmartFind G8 AIS EPIRB will also begin sending out an AIS emergency signal. Read more…

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Standard Horizon GX6500 VHF/AIS transponder

Standard Horizon GX6500 VHF/AIS transponder

Building the first VHF radio combined with a Class B AIS transceiver was a challenge but Standard Horizon went even further by adding unique remote station capabilities. Read more…

Racing

by Adam Cort

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Garmin Nautix In-view display

Garmin Nautix In-view display

Back in 2010 one of the many gadgets Jimmy Spithill employed aboard his enormous Cup-winning BMW Oracle trimaran was a sunglasses-mounted heads-up display, a la “Top Gun.” Read more…

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Ino-Rope Ino-Ending 3.6

Ino-Rope Ino-Ending 3.6

If a kind of elegant simplicity is an integral part of good design, then it would be hard to find a better example of excellence than Ino-Rope’s Ino Ending 3.6. Read more…

Systems

by Jay Paris

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TORQEEDO Pod Motors

TORQEEDO Pod Motors

A recognized leader in the area of electric yacht propulsion, Torqeedo has captured the market’s attention with the new pod motors used in its Cruise 2.0/4.0/10.0 saildrives, and especially with the modified Cruise 4.0 used in Hanse’s innovative E-Motion Rudder DriveRead more…

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FORESPAR Filters

FORESPAR Filters

While there are a number of potable water filtration systems available, Forespar’s PureWater+ will be particularly useful in the compact galleys found on many modern boats where the countertop is almost completely taken up by a stove, reefer access and a sink. Read more…

FLEXOFOLD Two-blade Prop

FLEXOFOLD Two-blade Prop

FLEXOFOLD Two-blade prop

Flexofold’s newest two-blade saildrive propeller includes a number of technically interesting features that serve to set it apart from the competition. Read more…

Environmental

FIREBOY-XINTEX

FIREBOY-XINTEX

FIREBOY-XINTEX

The Fireboy CG and Ma Series automatic fire suppression systems recently took a big step forward environmentally by changing to 3M’s “Novec” 1230 Fire Protection Fluid. Read more…

Electronics 

by Ben Ellison

Nautic Alert Decision Platform & Insight

Nautic Alert Decision Platform & Insight

Nautic Alert Decision Platform & Insight

By installing a Nautic Alert Decision Platform onboard you will, in essence, have a tireless mate who constantly minds the bilge, manages the pumps intelligently, and lets you know what’s happening, whether you’re in the cockpit or ashore. Read more…

Furuno DRS4D-NXT radome

Furuno DRS4D-NXT radome

Furuno DRS4D-NXT Radome

Last year Raymarine, Garmin and Furuno all followed Simrad/B&G by introducing their own solid-state small radars, a technology that’s especially sailor-friendly, due to its fast startups, modest DC power needs and low emissions. Read more…

Airmar DX900+ MultiLog

Airmar DX900+ MultiLog

Airmar DX900+ MultiLog

Accurately measuring leeway is arguably the holy grail of performance sailing analysis, and now Airmar thinks it has found the solution in a solid-state electromagnetic technology already used to monitor commercial fishing trawls. Read more…

Check out the 2016 Pittman Innovations Winners Here

February 2017

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