Freeman K. Pittman was SAIL’s widely respected Technical Editor for 14 years, until he succumbed to Lou Gehrig’s disease in 1996. His expertise encompassed all aspects of marine technology, and no one was a more enthusiastic follower and chronicler of technical developments and innovation. Each year SAIL honors Freeman’s memory with the Pittman Innovation Awards, which recognize the most innovative and interesting new products on the market.
Our team of judges—senior editor Adam Cort, executive editor Charles J. Doane, technical editor Jay Paris, electronics editor Ralph Naranjo and editor-at-large David Schmidt—went through the fall boat shows looking for the latest and greatest in new gear. New this year a second panel of judges, comprised of SAIL systems editor Nigel Calder, Catalina Yachts vice president Gerry Douglas, West Marine vice president of product development Chuck Hawley and SAIL editor Peter Nielsen also selected a Pittman Innovation Awards Overall Winner—the Kannad Marine R10 SRS.
Kannad Marine R10 SRS (See Video)
The SafeLink R10 SRS (Survivor Recovery System) may soon become a “must-have” safety device, especially for those sailing aboard boats equipped with AIS. When manually activated, it transmits an alert message and GPS code that can be processed by any AIS receiver (class A or B) within a four-mile radius to provide a position, range and bearing on an MOB victim; no more having to carry dedicated equipment to pinpoint the source of a personal homing beacon. The SafeLink can be clipped to a lifejacket and transmits continuously for 24 hours when activated. A flashing LED helps rescuers make visual contact when homing in on the signal after dark. Although the device has not yet been authorized by the FCC and is therefore not for sale in the United States, it hopefully will be soon. Pricing not yet available. Kannad Marine, kannadmarine.com
Spinlock Pylon LED (See Video)
The Spinlock Pylon LED lifejacket antenna solves a problem inherent to any conventional emergency light attached to a lifejacket. Namely, when deployed, the light is intermittently blocked either by waves or the victim’s head, making it harder to locate in a seaway. The Spinlock Pylon LED puts a flashing light atop an antenna that deploys automatically and projects about nine inches above a victim’s head, providing all-round visibility. The light will run for 10 hours and includes a test switch to confirm full operability. It cleverly relies on the force of a lifejacket’s inflating bladder itself to pop it into position when needed. The Pylon LED is standard equipment on Spinlock’s Deckvest 5D lifejacket harness and can be retrofitted to other brands of lifejackets as well. $59.95. Spinlock, spinlockusa.com
Karver Flying Cam Cleat(See Video)
When it comes to innovation in sailing hardware, it’s often the simplest ideas that are the most profound. You can grasp the basic concept of Karver’s new Flying Cam Cleat at a glance, but it takes considerably longer to enumerate the many things it might be useful for. “Every sailor’s ditty bag ought to have one of these things in it,” proclaimed one of our judges. Many of those ditty bags will, of course, belong to racers (dinghy sailors in particular will like the flying cleat for handling loaded working lines more comfortably), but we think cruisers will ultimately find the most creative uses. The cleat can serve as an instant rolling hitch for jobs like hanging an awning, a Sunshower, a riding light or some bananas in the rig. It will also be very handy for tensioning tie-down lines when you’re stowing gear on deck. There are probably a dozen or more uses we haven’t thought of yet. Come to think of it, we may need more than one in our ditty bag. $100. Karver Systems, karver-systems.com
Torqeedo Cruise 2.0/4.0 Electric Outboard Motors
Though Torqeedo has been recognized here before for its achievements in the realm of electric propulsion, the company has never been content to rest on its laurels. The latest generation of Torqeedo Cruise 2.0 and 4.0 motors takes portable electric propulsion to a whole new level. The motors can be configured for either remote (R) or tiller (T) steering and can be driven by a variety of remote battery packs, including conventional gel-cell and AGM systems. They work best, however, with Torqeedo’s new lithium Power 26-104 batteries, which have a capacity of 2,685 watt-hours and weigh just 44 pounds. Various refinements, including improvements in propeller design, have again increased efficiency, and a new GPS-based control system makes it possible to micro-manage range and battery condition. The motors and 26-104 batteries are also submersible—just what a sailor needs when powering a tender or small cruising boat. From $3,299. Torqeedo Inc., torqeedo.com
Colligo Soft Snatch Block and Soft Padeye(See Video)
Colligo Marine has long been a leader in synthetic rigging, winning a Pittman Award for its Emergency Shroud Kit in 2009. Now it’s the company’s innovative Soft Snatch Block and a Soft Padeye that are earning a joint award thanks to their clever design.
Colligo’s Soft Snatch Block is a static block assembly specifically designed for use with Dyneema SK-75 (Spectra) and other HMPE cordage. The slippery properties of these synthetic fibers pair well with the sheave’s anodized aluminum bearing surface, yielding low-friction performance at a fraction of the weight of a traditional block. The unit attaches to padeyes or other deck/spar fittings with a Spectra strop held in situ by a Velcro strip.
Colligo’s Soft Padeye provides an ingenious means of installing deck-mounted soft-strop padeyes and includes a screw-on cup to prevent water from getting belowdecks. To install, insert the padeye body into the deck via a 3/4in hole and secure with a combined backing plate-retaining nut. The cup is then screwed on, sealing the system with the help of an O-ring. The padeye comes with a Dyneema loop secured with a simple stopper knot, making it easy to replace as needed. From $69. Colligo Marine, colligomarine.com
Cousin Trestec Constrictor(See Video)
Cousin Trestec has reinvented line-holding with its new Constrictor, a lightweight fiber-on-fiber rope-clutch system. Anyone familiar with Chinese finger cuffs will recognize the principle behind the unit’s gripping mechanism. The Constrictor employs a hollow-braid Aramid “jacket” attached to an aluminum fitting with a line aperture and bolt holes, so that it can be mounted on a cabintop or deck. The clutch’s working end includes a trip line led back to a notch, or “catch” loop in the aluminum fitting, while an elastic cord applies constant tension. As a line comes under load, it is instantly squeezed by the Constrictor’s Aramid jacket and held fast. To release, simply pull the trip line and secure it via a small knot in the catch loop. According to Cousin Trestec, the lightweight design offers slip-free performance, even when working with higher loads, without the risk of abrasion. We haven’t yet had a chance to test these claims, and there remain concerns about the system’s durability, but there’s no denying the uniqueness of the approach. $266. Cousin Trestec, cousin-trestec.com
Doyle Anomaly Headboard(See Video)
Many square-headed mains carry a horizontal gaff batten at the very top of the sail and a second diagonal batten angling down from where the top batten contacts the leech to support the extra sail area. Unfortunately, when it comes time to lower the sail, these battens can cause trouble, as they don’t flake nicely, requiring that the sail’s head and/or the gaff batten be removed from the sail track. Hoisting sail can also be problematic, sometimes calling for harness-dangling heroics, especially aboard large boats. Doyle’s Anomaly headboard solves these dilemmas by affixing the head of the sail to a detachable composite “carriage,” which is attached via a 2:1 tackle to the top sail car on the mast track. When raising sail, halyard tension automatically pulls the carriage into the car where a toggle locks it in place. No more having to attach the head of the sail to the track manually. When it comes time to lower the sail, the carriage automatically comes free as the halyard tension is eased off, allowing for easy flaking. From $1,950. Doyle Sailmakers Inc. doylesails.com
Raymarine e7(See Video)
The Raymarine e7 is a capable GPS-chartplotter that can be used as a standalone unit or networked via Raymarine’s SeaTalk system with multiple displays and sensors, such as radar, a depthsounder or a FLIR night-vision camera. Perhaps the e7’s most impressive feature is its Wi-Fi capability, which allows it to link wirelessly with an iPhone or iPad. Add a Navionics software app to your phone, and you no longer have to wait until you get to your boat to plan a cruise or check your charts; once on board, your iPad or iPhone becomes a wireless remote display. The e7’s Bluetooth connectivity also allows you to control your MP3 music remotely from the helm or toggle through a number of its nav functions via a compact remote. The e7’s LightHouse interface is intuitively structured, making the system easy to operate. $1,549. Raymarine, raymarine.com
Iridium Extreme(See Video)
Satellite phone maker Iridium has taken a big step forward with its rugged, smaller-than-ever Iridium Extreme. The Extreme is even more versatile than the company’s popular 9555, and is the first pocket-sized satellite telephone to carry a built-in GPS receiver with tracking capability and a programmable distress function. The unit includes an ergonomic housing that is water-resistant and dustproof. Users can store up to 100 phone numbers and, with the addition of Iridium’s AxcessPoint hardware, can turn the Extreme into a portable Wi-Fi hot spot. The Extreme harnesses Iridium’s proven global voice and data satellite system and offers plenty of day-to-day value to both racers and cruisers. The unit’s programmable SOS button will be invaluable in emergency situations. $1,375. Iridium Communications Inc.,
B&G Triton T41(See Video)
B&G’s new all-in-one T41 multifunction display (MFD) is brilliant in more ways than one. Designed specifically for use on sailboats as a kind of “mini” MFD, the unit displays depth, boatspeed, and apparent and true wind data in a unique format any sailor will find visually intuitive. The Micro-C Simnet backbone allows you to daisy-chain other T41s and connect a sounder, compass or Triton masthead sensor, thereby delivering a competitively priced anemometer that uses the same internal components found in B&G’s top-tier 3000 series. Data travels through well-insulated Simnet cables and can be networked with a B&G Zeus display. The unit’s up-, down- and select-button-driven menu is elegantly simple, and the glass-bonded screen is immune to moisture. The T41 display can even be integrated with an optional autopilot controller—turning the innovative digital display into a reliable cyber shipmate. $599. B&G, bandg.com
Navico 3G/4G Radar(See Video)
The new 3G and even newer 4G radars from Navico use continuous-wave FM-based technology to do away with the energy-consuming magnetrons found in traditional pulse radar systems. Employing simultaneous send/receive circuitry and efficient FM signal propagation, the radars, which are marketed under Navico’s Lowrance, Simrad and B&G brands, provide extremely crisp in-close detail, low power consumption and “instant on” capability. While the 3G has longer legs than Navico’s first broadband unit, the BR24, it’s the 4G that is the real “long ranger,” picking up targets as far away as 36 miles. While the 3G does not have the same reach as the 4G, it sips a miserly 18 watts. The 4G also offers a split-range display and beam-sharpening for optimal target separation. From $1,699. Navico, navico.com
H2Out Systems Dryers(See Video)
While desiccants are nothing new—small silica gel packets are often found packaged with consumer electronics—H2Out Systems is now packaging its drying media in ways that are useful aboard sailboats. The company’s SD (space dryer), AVD (fuel air vent dryer) and HD (hydraulic dryer) products all have clear or perforated metallic housings that allow for efficient air ventilation and easy visual inspection. When the dryer media, which is infinitely reusable, changes from blue to pink, it’s time to dry it out again. The SD units range from smaller canisters suitable for a toolbox to sizes capable of drying out larger living spaces. SAIL’s Nigel Calder, for example, uses an SD to keep his boat’s freezer from icing up (see page 70). The AVDs feature a transparent cylinder with end caps for connecting to a fuel tank’s vent plumbing. The HD is a more complex and expensive device that stops water vapor from entering a hydraulic systems fluid reservoir. From $19. H2Out Systems, h2out.com
Maretron Fluid Flow Monitor (See Video)
Maretron has long been a leader in developing and implementing NMEA 2000 networks. The FFM100 fuel flow monitor is the latest addition to the company’s long list of sensors, modules, cabling, components, displays and software. The unit converts signals from fuel, water and other fluid sensors into NMEA 2000 data, and when used in conjunction with Maretron’s positive displacement fuel sensors—which include embedded temperature sensors—provides unprecedented accuracy when measuring fuel consumption. Sensor accuracy is vital when determining diesel burn rates, because it is necessary to measure the difference between the amount of fuel delivered to the engine and the portion of hotter fuel returned to the tank. Because diesel fuel changes volume with temperature, incorrect compensation for this difference can cause measuring inaccuracies of as much as 5 percent. $395.
Maretron Vessel Monitoring & Control Systems, maretron.com
Vetus Rimdrive Bow Thruster (See Video)
Vetus has downsized the integral tunnel-motor bow thruster so that it will fit on boats as small as 45 feet. There are two Rimdrive models—the RD125 and the RD160—which both have internal tunnel diameters of 9.8 inches and are rated at 8hp and 9.5hp respectively. The propeller and the outer ring connecting the tips of the blades serve as the motor’s rotor, and the stationary windings are in a tunnel module that slides into a boat’s structural tunnel tube. As a result, there is no bulky motor to install inside the boat, only a compact interface module. Also, because the “motor” is submerged, and therefore water-cooled, the only limitation on run time is the capacity of the battery bank. Vetus claims its multiblade propeller is virtually cavitation free and that the motor is almost silent. The Rimdrive also operates at variable speeds, so that thrust can be adjusted to suit conditions, making short noisy bursts of power a thing of the past. Pricing not yet available. Vetus Marine, vetusmarine.com