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2016 Pittman Innovation Awards

Every year there’s a kind of competition within a competition as mechanical systems vie with electronics for primacy in SAIL’s Pittman Innovation Awards, and in 2016 it’s safe to say electronics won hands down. Whether it was a turnkey hybrid drive system, an LED-powered replacement for traditional pyrotechnic flares, route-finding software for chartplotters or a system that automatically trims sails underway, the marine industry’s programmers and electrical engineers have clearly been busy. Not that the machinists and fabricators out there have been idle: far from it, as is evident in a new type of headsail furler and yet another iteration of that most basic piece of hardware—the winch.

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In either case, the industry has once again more than done justice to the memory of Freeman K. Pittman, SAIL’s long-time technical editor who passed away from Lou Gehrig’s disease in 1996, and for whom our Pittman Innovation Awards are named. As in years past, executive editor Adam Cort, cruising editor Charles J. Doane, technical editor Jay Paris and electronics editor Ben Ellison, spent days roaming the many boat shows in the United States and abroad to uncover the best of the best in terms of sailing gear. Also as in years past, the industry’s ability to innovate never ceases to amaze.

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SAIL’s Pittman Innovation Awards judges often find themselves facing the question of whether a new piece of equipment is “revolutionary” or merely “evolutionary,” in terms of what it brings to the sailing public. But in the case of Navionics’s Dock-to-dock Autorouting, it was clear the company was on to something new in terms of its ability to help mariners pick their way though a hazard-strewn harbor or channel. “Navionics has consistently been at the forefront of innovative charting software, notably with its integration of user-generated content into refining and correcting existing charts and hydrography,” says systems expert Nigel Calder. “The Dock-to-dock software is another extremely useful, ground-breaking innovation that considerably simplifies route-planning.”

Because of the tremendous number of variables involved, it’s much harder for software algorithms to create a safe, sensible route on a chart than it is on a road map. However, the new Navionics Dock-to-dock Autorouting engine represents a significant leap forward. Read more...

Cruising

by Charles J. Doane

Dutchmar Zoom

Dutchman-Zoom-3

The new Zoom boom from Dutchmar (ex-Dutchman) is a highly innovative cross between a cantilevered jib boom (like those found on model sailboats), the unusual Ljungstrom rig (with twin mainsails that furl around a single freestanding mast) and a Hoyt jib boom. Read more...

Colligo Extra Lightweight Headsail Furling System

Colligo-furler

Colligo Marine has long been a leader in bringing modern high-modulus fiber-rigging applications to the racing market, and we believe its innovative new Extra Lightweight Headsail Furling (ELHF) system, which allows you to roller-furl a hank-on headsail, will also be of interest to cruisers. Read more...

Rainman Desalination System

Rainman-pressure-unit-on-dock

The new Rainman system from Australia is a portable plug-and-play desalinator that should appeal to those cruisers currently daunted by the prospect of somehow fitting a watermaker on their boats. Read more...

Electronics

by Ben Ellison

Jeanneau/Harken Assisted Sail Trim

Jeanneau_DSC8869

For years the sailing industry has been exploring ways to make sailboats easier to handle. Now Harken and Jeanneau have combined their considerable talents to take ease of use to a whole new level with their Assisted Sail Trim (AST) system. Read more...

Garmin VIRB XE Camera

Garmin-VIRB-XE-1

Even in a world replete with digital cameras, the Garmin VIRB XE stands out for its ability to work with the other electronics you have on board to provide a truly special user experience. Read more...

B&G Vulcan 7

B&G-Vulcan-7-Hero-Left-EMEA-ForwardScan-HR-PRG

Innovation doesn’t usually involve feature removal, but by doing away with Ethernet in its Vulcan 7, B&G has created a powerful new multifunction display that allows small-boat sailors to take advantage of features previously only available to the big boys. Read more...

Safety

by Adam Cort

Spinlock Lume-On

Spinlock-Lume-On-Pack

Going overboard at night, especially offshore, can be a death sentence if the crew onboard can’t see you. Read more...

Sirius Signal SOS Distress Light

sirius-signal-side-top

It’s always been a bit of a Catch-22: the best way to signal for help after dark is by igniting a very hot flame—thereby immediately increasing the danger in an already fraught situation. Read more...

UK Sailmakers Power Sail

Solar-Cloth-J88

Until recently the only solar sails were those designed for catching the solar wind aboard spacecraft, but not anymore, thanks to UK Sailmakers France and SolarCloth System’s Power Sails. Read more...

Blue-Sea-BatteryLink-charger-7605

Blue Sea Systems continues to introduce a variety of different components to help improve a boat’s onboard electrical system. Among the latest is the BatteryLink waterproof charger suitable for flooded, AGM and TPPL batteries. Read more...

Waeco CRX Refrigerator

Waeco-DOM_CRX_freezer_m

Organizing the cold stuff for a longer cruise just got a whole lot easier, thanks to Dometic Marine’s new Waeco CRX range of three-in-one refrigerator/freezers. Read more...

Torqeedo Deep Blue Hybrid

Torqeedo-boat

Torqeedo, the same company that made a name for itself building viable electric outboards, now appears ready for the big-time with its new Deep Blue Hybrid system for boats from 40ft to 80ft. Read more...

Racing

by Adam Cort

Seldén S-series Winch

Selden-Winch

Seldén’s S-series winch simplifies tacking and makes handling a loaded sheet easier and safer by allowing you to tail the line to your heart’s content with it already running through the self-tailing mechanism and the winch handle in its socket. Read more...

TackingMaster

tacking-master

One of the toughest parts of sailboat racing, especially for newbies, is keeping track of windshifts and visualizing how they affect your strategy and tactics. Read more...

See the 2015 Pittman Innovation Awards

February 2016

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