The international marine industry is comprised of a series of innovative companies (some more so than others) that constantly press the envelope on what’s possible. For the cruising crowd, this often translates to added comfort or extra amenities, but for us racers, the offer of increased speed drives research, design, development and, ultimately, sales.
The DAME awards, which are part of the METS equipment tradeshow that’s held each November in Amsterdam, are a competitive way for companies new and established to showcase their newest, flashiest kit. 2012 proved to be no exception, with some great innovation coming from a variety of sectors of the racing scene.
While the list of entrants was long (and the list of other great kit on display at METS even longer), here’s a snapshot of what caught my eye while walking the halls today.
For dinghy sailors, Zhik’s new Grip II system involves a pair of hiking boots with a dedicated hiking strap. The top of the boot’s toe box is covered with a series of rubber 'dots' (or really small rubber 'pegs'); these correspond to a similar material on the bottom of the hiking strap, thus acting as Velcro-like system to help keep you in the boat. Slick!
For sportboat sailors, Spinlock has introduced a new modular line organizer that allows you to add sheaves as necessary, depending on how many lines you lead abaft. The system can be mounted anywhere, but the doghouse roof is the obvious destination. Best yet, Spinlock designed the kit to allow a 'bullseye' fairlead(s) aperture(s) to be attached to the top of the unit, providing even more line-handling infrastructure.
For sailors who use continuous-line furlers, Selden has introduced a double fairlead that attaches to a lifeline stanchion. Should you need to release the line from its containment, simply press in the stainless fitting and rotate it ninety degrees and the lines are released. Easy!
And for the classic yacht racer, Karver has you covered (literally) with a really sweet set of 'wood' laminate covers for their already-sexy looking composite blocks. These covers—which weight about as much as a sheet or two of printer paper—can be retrofitted onto existing Karver blocks, adding a decidedly vintage look to an otherwise state-of-the-art unit.
But what stopped me dead in my tracks and had me reaching for my camera was Harken’s new line of aerodynamic grinding pedestals. While these units are born and breed for the 34th America’s Cup, I strongly suspect that owners of super-quick monohulls will be interested in these sleek units. It will be really interesting to see how and where this technology trickles down, but suffice it to say that Harken has again ratcheted up the ante for Grand Prix toys.