Pittman Innovation awards for 2016 announced

Published on January 19th, 2016

Named after Freeman K. Pittman, SAIL’s long-time technical editor who died of Lou Gehrig’s disease in 1996, the Pittman Innovation Awards recognize outstanding new products created by a sailing industry that is perpetually innovative in its thinking.

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. In either case, the industry has once again more than done justice to the memory of Pittman.

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.

The Pittman Innovation Award winners for 2016 are the Navionics’s Dock-to-dock Autorouting, Dutchmar Zoom Boom, Colligo Marine Extra Lightweight Headsail Furling (ELHF) system, Rainman Desalination System, Jeanneau/Harken Assisted Sail Trim, Garmin VIRB XE Camera, B&G Vulcan 7 chartplotter system, Spinlock Lume-On life jacket illumination, Sirius Signal SOS Distress Light,
UK Sailmakers France and SolarCloth System’s Power Sails, Blue Sea Systems BatteryLink waterproof charger, Waeco CRX three-in-one refrigerator/freezer, Torqeedo Deep Blue Hybrid electric outboard system, Seldén S-series winch, and TackingMaster tactical navigation device.

This year’s Overall Winner, the Navionics’s Dock-to-dock Autorouting, was selected by a panel of judges that included Nigel Calder (systems expert and author), Tom Burden (author of the West Marine “advisor” series of articles) and Gerry Douglas (vice-president of Catalina Yachts).

For more information on all the winners, coverage of the 2016 Pittman Innovation Awards is in the February issue of SAIL and online.

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