2019 Pittman Innovation Awards

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For the past couple of decades, the digital side of sailing has become increasingly important, to the point where it’s now almost inconceivable going offshore, even aboard a daysailer, without at least a modicum of electronics onboard—a trend that has been very much in evidence in SAIL’s annual Pittman Innovation Awards. Still, in the course of SAIL’s 2019 awards, while tech remains preeminent, we found a number of innovative candidates that add a new twist to some of the true basics of sailing and cruising—including a new kind of electrical system that frees boats of the need for a generator, a new kind of 3D printed block and even a digital variant on the age-old yarn telltale. Of course, the purely digital side of things also remains in force, as can be seen in such eye-popping bits of gear as Raymarine’s new augmented reality system. But then again, the purely analog side of sailing also continues to play a role, as is evident in Antal’s new quick-release clutch and even a new kind of sailing shoe. Bottom line, as always, we think SAIL’s late products editor Freeman K. Pittman, for whom these annual innovation awards are named, would have been impressed.

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01Integral-1

Integrel Advanced Generator Replacement Technology

Although the process of creative destruction is as much in evidence in the marine industry as it is for the world as a whole, it’s hard to remember something that aimed to so completely displace another bit of gear the way the new Integrel Advance Generator Replacement system hopes to do away with the genset. In one fell swoop, it will allow countless sailors to both simplify their onboard systems and make better use of the diesel engines they already own—both good things, to say the least. “This is something that will change the way people sail and use their boats,” said overall winner panelist Matt Wise, summing up the thinking behind the judges’ unanimous decision. Congrats to the UK’s Triskel Marine, and of course, SAIL’s own Nigel Calder, one of the leaders in the product’s development (a role which forced him to have to recuse himself from this year’s overall winner panel, although we fully expect to see him again next time around!)

OVERALL WINNER JUDGES: Matt Wise (senior manager of services for West Marine) and Gerry Douglas (chief designer and vice-president of Catalina Yachts)

RACING:  By Adam Cort

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TrimControl Electronic Telltale

One of the nocturnal rites of offshore racing (or passagemaking for the matter) is forever having to shine a flashlight aloft to see what your telltales are up to and whether you’re even close to sailing as well as you otherwise would in broad daylight. With these new TrimControl electronic telltales from France’s Mer Agitee, though, you can forget about both the light and that crick in your neck and just look at a screen, which will immediately tell you how you’re doing. Powered by a small Li-ion battery, each telltale transmits wirelessly to a receiver and connection box, which in turn displays the state of your sails on either a fixed screen or mobile device via Wi-Fi. In operation, each telltale alerts the system whenever it’s deflected 10 degrees or more via an internal load sensor, with the software in the connection box then recording these readings over time. Having already logged thousands of sea miles aboard the IMOCA 60 SMA and current solo circumanv world-record holder Francois Gabart’s maxi-tri Macif, the system is clearly up to the rigors of life offshore. We could see it working especially well for keeping track of twist in a boat’s headsails. It would also work well for any passagemaker standing watch belowdecks at a nav station where the rig overhead is hidden from view. $600. Mer Agitee, meragitee.com

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Colligo Marine Revo Blocks

One of the coolest things about today’s technology is when a gee-wiz innovation also happens to translate into a neat new basic piece of kit. In the case of Colligo Marine’s Revo Block, the catalyst was a new polymeric structural 3D printing material comparable in strength to aluminum. This not only allowed Colligo to create a new corrosion-free design with ceramic bearings and titanium pins to support the sheaves, it also opened the door for Colligo to pivot the outer sheaves 90 degrees relative to those closer in, thereby creating an especially sleek overall design. As an added benefit, by spreading around the falls, the blocks also seem to keep the different parts of the system from kinking up around one another. Blocks for 2/1, 4/1, 6/1 and 8/1 purchases are available. Note that in addition to being available complete, you can also purchase the necessary files and make the blocks yourself. How cool is that! $NA. Colligo Marine, colligomarine.com

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Spider Shoes Total Grip

So, at the METS industry trade show in Amsterdam last year there was this guy who kept making passersby try on his company’s new boat shoes. Then he would spray a solution of water and dish soap on an angled piece of stainless steel and have them step on it. Crazy, of course. But damn if those Italian-built Spider Shoes didn’t grip on that ridiculously slippery surface like you were standing on antiskid. The key appears to be a soft sole material coupled with an intricately cut grid pattern, that both channels the moisture away and hangs on to pretty much any surface available. Equally fun, the shoes can be ordered online in pretty much any color combination you can imagine, and you can also upload the logo of your choice to create personalized shoes for you and your crew only. Because the sole material is so soft, these are not shoes you’re going to want to wear around on shore. But out on a racecourse, you’re not going to want to take them off. From $190. Usail Spider Shoes/Olicor Srl, usail.it

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Antal QR Quick Release Clutches

Who hasn’t just wanted to pop open a clutch on, say, a jib halyard or A-sail tack line and then let it run without having to first take the load off with a winch? Well, now you can with Antal’s exquisite new QR clutches. Central to each clutch’s ability to safely release a line under maximum load is a proprietary locking system employing two opposing V-shaped wedges. This, in turn, creates a four-sided grip that provides a wide grip surface and results in less line wear, higher holding power and the ability to release a line without damage (as well as handle smaller lines sizes for the same clutch weight). After the clutch handle is closed, the line will continue to run free until a small locking switch immediately above where the line tail exits the clutch is engaged, at which point the clutch’s locking system engages the line again. From $680. Antal SRL, antal.it/eng

ELECTRONICS: By Ben Ellison

06Starlight

Starlight LED helming guide

With its new Starlight system, sensor and instrument manufacturer Autonnic demonstrates how clever electronics can provide a visual sailing aid as simple and intuitive as age-old telltale yarns or a star to steer by. In operation, the active blue LEDs in the 26in-long light bar stay pegged to your desired course while the on-center fixed yellow LED marks your bow, thereby providing a constant reference point, not just for your steering accuracy but also for how quickly your error or correction is taking place. Better still, since the bar is meant to be installed near your visual horizon level (for example, along the top of the aft bulkhead of the cabintrunk) there’s no longer any need to glance down at a compass or conventional instrument display (let alone have to make sense of a bunch of changing numbers). The horizontal width represented by the bar’s red/green end lights is also adjustable, allowing you to better integrate the Starlight to such real-world of objects as faraway stars or closer-up nav aids, or to simply adjust how precisely your steering heroics will display. The light bar is fully dimmable and comes with an auto-brightness mode. In the works is also an NMEA 2000 model that will enable course setting by waypoint or wind angle. It’s fun to imagine how boatbuilders might elegantly integrate the Starlight technology into, say, the upper edge of a companionway instrument cluster or the aft end of a dodger. $318. Autonnic, autonnic.com

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Spinlock Sail-Sense

The Internet of Things (IoT) concept has suffered understandable ridicule, but the new Sail-Sense from Spinlock makes lots of, well, sense. The small self-contained hardware module is fastened near a sail’s clew, and a wireless app is then used by the loft to log in things like the sail’s construction date, size, and materials. The customer and crew can then use the same Sail-Sense app to better manage either a small inventory or a full container of databased sails. Beyond that, the IoT really kicks in when the module wakes up upon motion and starts logging the sail’s UV exposure, hours of use, G-force and flogging. A true “cherry on top” feature then comes into play in the form of a Southampton University analysis of sail materials that enables the app to deduce “health scores” for each Sail-Sense monitored sail. Apps are available for Android or iOS (Apple) devices, and the data can be exported for further analysis. The module purportedly has a five-year battery life in typical use, and the sail’s ID info, location and use hours are available as soon as the module is activated. Access to the other data requires a $32 annual per sail subscription and also includes a race mode setting that live streams the sensor data, although at the cost of shortening battery life. Sail-Sense is clearly geared toward racing programs with lots of valuable sails. However, it could also eventually be implemented with cruising sails as part of the warranty programs of some sail lofts. $190. Spinlock, spinlock.co.uk

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Raymarine ClearCruise AR (Augmented Reality)

Let’s be clear: Raymarine’s new AR system is worlds apart from the gimmicky augmented reality you may have seen on someone’s phone app, with the video source being a high-quality fixed HD marine camera that can also be quite useful on its own. Aboard sailboats, the CAM210 bullet or the CAM220 dome model camera can be mounted high on a mast for a crow’s-nest view accessible via any networked Axiom multifunction display that might be onboard. Raymarine’s AR200 video stabilization module then steadies the video stream and makes the magic happen by spatially analyzing it relative to precision GPS and motion sensors. This, in turn, allows other Axiom network data, like AIS targets, nav aids and waypoints, to be precisely overlaid on the 3D real-world video imagery, with the end result being that most users will find the final ClearCruise AR view to be much easier to understand than a conventional top-down 2D AIS and/or chartplotting. “Highly intuitive” is an understatement, and is further helped by a camera field-of-view outline on the 2D chart view and AR object-type selection buttons on the AR view. Although ClearCruise AR does not currently work with navigation-level thermal night vision, it may still usefully label ship or nav aid lights in the dark. As a side note, while there are instances in which a headsail might impede the AR’s cameras, it’s most common use will likely be while motoring along a tight waterway or into an unfamiliar anchorage, in which case your sails will likely be down anyway. $1,200. Raymarine, raymarine.com

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Fusion Apollo Series Stereo

Fusion has broken trail in the area of marine entertainment systems for over a decade. Nonetheless, it designed its new Apollo series stereos from scratch, and the result is a boat stereo that looks like no other. Not only that, but the beauty of the sleek glass bridge style of its flagship RA770 is more than just skin deep. On startup, for example, you’ll find a fairly conventional touchscreen interface for choosing tunes. But once you’re done with that the screen goes to a Gesture Mode that lets you pause/mute or replay/next with hardly a glance. The Apollo SRX-400 model also shines as cockpit and/or sleeping cabin auxiliary, in which everyone aboard can easily do their own thing or join in via a PartyBus mode that allows all stations to share controls and sources—sources that include all the regulars plus high fidelity protocols like optical S/PDIF and UPnP. (The latter has already helped Apollo earn Apple AirPlay certification.) All Apollo stereos use digital signal processing (DSP) to improve audio quality and even automate the tuning of Fusion speakers for different sound environments. The systems also support wired remotes and remote control apps, as well as integration with MFDs over NMEA 2000. Fusion even recently announced a waterproof, inexpensive and super thin wireless remote that can be easily installed almost anywhere onboard. Finally, all Apollo systems are easily updated over Wi-Fi, and Fusion clearly has a trail forward in mind in terms of software and related hardware. $649. Fusion Entertainment, fusionentertainment.com

CRUISING & SAFETY: By Charles J. Doane

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EuroDesign Composite Teak Decking

For many decades natural teak decking was de rigueur on high-end cruising boats and cruiser-racers, as it provided both a touch of class and secure footing for the crew. However, while teak is durable and water resistant, it can be tough to keep clean and looking fresh. It is also a subject of some environmental concern, as old-growth teak forests are now endangered and the harvesting of plantation teak can increase soil erosion. For these reasons, faux teak decking has become increasingly popular in recent years, both for ease of maintenance and cost reduction, despite the fact that to the practiced eye even the best examples still look and feel a bit synthetic. Enter EuroDesign’s new Composite Teak Decking. This is a faux teak product that doesn’t seem faux at all because it mostly isn’t. Comprised of 60 percent recycled teak and 30 percent recycled plastic, this is the “real deal” when it comes to fake wood. Our judges were impressed with its verisimilitude, noting it retains all the advantages of more synthetic products with less environmental impact. Composite Teak Decking comes in two standard colors—Teak Brown and Weathered Grey—but can be ordered in most any color, with or without faux caulking and in any configuration. From $187/m. EuroDesign, eurodesign.se

Mustang-Khimera-PFD

Mustang Khimera Dual Flotation PFD

Flotation devices that are both comfortable to wear and fully functional have long been the gold standard when it comes to onboard safety underway. However, many active sailors just can’t seem to find a PFD that really checks both these boxes for them. Before you give up and go sailing without one, though, you’d best check out the new USCG-approved Khimera life-vest from Mustang. This functions both as a slim-profile Type III vest with 7.5lb of foam buoyancy and as an inflatable vest, with a manually activated CO cylinder that instantly boosts the vest’s total flotation capability to a total of 20lb. Best of all, when inflated the Khimera vest does not unduly inhibit motion, thereby allowing users to swim and re-board a vessel much more easily than they would while wearing a conventional inflatable PFD. The Khimera is also very easy to deal with after it’s been inflated. There’s no need to struggle through an elaborate repacking procedure. Just squeeze all the air out of the inflation bladder, install a new CO2 cylinder and you’re ready to fall overboard all over again. $199. Mustang Survival, mustangsurvival.com

Shakespear-INFL8

Shakespeare Galaxy INFL8 Emergency VHF Antenna

What do you do when the rig comes down and you need to talk on your VHF radio? It’s a problem as old as masthead-mounted antennae. Unfortunately, while an emergency antenna is a critical piece of kit on any well-equipped sailboat, traditionally its length, and hence its range and efficacy, have been badly limited by the need to also stow it away. To solve this conundrum, Shakespeare Marine has developed its new Galaxy INFL8 antenna, the world’s first inflatable emergency VHF antenna. The INFL8 can be quickly inflated and measures 5ft in length when deployed, giving it full 3dB functionality with three times the range of any existing helical emergency antenna. It can also be easily mounted with Velcro straps and carries a set of grommets top and bottom so that it can be lashed in place. To further enhance its performance, the INFL8 comes with a unique splice connector that allows it to be patched into existing antenna cables quickly and efficiently. The antenna can also be connected to a handheld VHF radio, thus making it a great addition to a ditch bag. $149. Shakespeare Marine, shakespeare-marine.com

SiOnyx-Camera

SiOnyx Aurora Day/Night Camera

Thermal night-vision scopes and cameras have always seemed like a great idea for sailors operating in low-light conditions, but in practice have never quite delivered. The grainy two-tone nature of thermal imagery is very much an acquired taste and is generally difficult for untrained eyes to decipher. This new SiOnyx camera, however, billed as the world’s first color high-definition day/night camera, sees in the dark not by sensing heat but by greatly boosting sensitivity to light. With its patented ultra-low-light IR sensor the SiOnyx Aurora, therefore, affords crystal-clear color night vision, rated as “moonless starlight capable,” that allows you to pick out small details at both short and long range. It also, of course, works great in daylight. Small enough and light enough (just 8 ounces) to be used as a discrete handheld camera/scope, the Aurora can also be permanently mounted and remotely controlled and monitored via an iOS or Android device. When recording, the camera stores its imagery on a Micro SD card (not included) that can hold up to four hours of video data. Best of all, the price is not out of this world. $799. SiOnyx LLC, sionyx.com

SYSTEMS: By Jay Paris

Balmar_new

BALMAR SG200

Balmar, well known for its marine electrical components, has introduced a next-generation battery monitor, the SG200, that in addition to the now-common “State of Charge” (SoC) readout adds a “State of Health” (SoH) reading highlighting the percentage of a battery’s original capacity in use, which in turn provides a measure of a battery’s degradation over time as a result of sulfation. This is important since misjudging a battery’s true capacity by using its highest SoC can result in using an improper charging regime, with the battery being discharged below its recommended minimum voltage (generally stated as a percentage of its original capacity). The SG200’s software also uses the readings from its upgradable SmartShunt to provide critical battery parameters, such as charging/discharge currents, time remaining, and faults and alerts, while an optional Smartphone/Bluetooth gateway allows these parameters to be displayed on a smartphone using free iOS and Android Apps. The SG200 supports lead-acid, Lithium (LiFePO4), standard AGM, TPPL AGM, Carbon Foam AGM and gel chemistries and 12 to 48-volt battery banks. A number of components are also available to upgrade to more complex configurations beyond the basic system. The basic system consists of a SmartShunt, cables and a color display. $239. Balmar, balmar.net/sg200-battery-monitor

01Integral-1

Integrel Advanced Generator Replacement Technology

The Integrel system from the UK’s Triskel Marine consists of an add-on system for diesel propulsion engines that promises to eliminate the need for a stand-alone genset, thereby eliminating a great deal of weight and complexity from many of today’s cruisers. Although it may strike the uninitiated as being somewhat complex at first glance, it is completely automatic after being put in place and requires no input from the boat’s operator. At the heart of each Integrel installation is a 9 kW 48-volt engine-mounted generator (not an alternator) coupled with a complete power generation, storage, conversion and distribution system. Because of its high output and relatively modest size, the generator has been designed both to operate at high temperatures and be governed by a proprietary Integrel System Controller as it charges a boat’s 48v 10kWh (or higher) capacity battery bank. Power for the ship’s service loads is then provided via a 48v to 12/24/36v battery-to-battery charger and/or an inverter/charger for AC loads. Because the power versus rpm curve for a diesel is inevitably much higher than the power absorbed by a propeller other than at maximum rpm, and since the most efficient operation for a diesel is typically approximately 70 percent of full load, the Integrel controller systematically ramps up its generator output to increase the load on the engine to achieve optimum efficiency, thereby resulting in overall fuel savings of up to 25 percent. The generator windings are also designed to provide an unusually high power output at low revs, so that if the boat is not underway, up to 3.5 kW of DC power is available at idle. Engine candidates for Integrel installations at this time range from 40hp to 100hp. A basic system is priced at approximately $15,000. Triskel Marine, integrelmarine.com

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BG-One Bilge Switch

Blue Guard Innovations has three visually identical bilge pump switches with the same 4.6in diameter by 2in high cylindrical configuration. Among these, the one that has drawn the most attention is the award-winning BG-One smart switch, which includes an oil and fuel detection feature that will shut a bilge pump down in the event any contaminants are detected. With its two integrated solid-state sensors the switch has a detection accuracy down to an oil or fuel depth of 0.04in thereby automatically turning off a bilge pump before a potentially costly spill can occur. It can also be operated in “Standard High Seas” mode, whereby it will pump out any and all liquids, in addition, its standard “Mode A” (Marina mode) in which it turns the pump back on when only water alone is detected. In “Mode B “(Marine Sanctuary mode) the switch turns the pump off when oil or fuel is detected and then keeps it off until the alarm is cleared. The BG-One is a five-wire system that works with 12 or 24-volt bilge pumps and alarms. There is also an app, which links to the switch via Bluetooth. $219. Blue Guard Innovations

February 2019

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