Chandlery November 2011 Issue

Holiday Gift Ideas

Racing Watches

We trialed two watches that would make appropriate gifts for racing sailors: the Gill Regatta Master II Watch for the serious racer and the Ronstan ClearStart Sailing Watch for the casual racer who takes starts seriously. Both are rated as waterproof to 150 feet, and both have a calendar and alarm function, clearly identifiable red start/stop buttons, and shock-resistant construction, among other features. What will appeal most to racers is that both have a stop-watch function (count up or down); are pre-programmed with an ISAF start sequence alarm setting with alarms sounding at 5, 4, 1, and 0 minutes; and can easily sync to the nearest minute at any time during your sequence with a single button press.

The Gill watch is beefier, with a 2-inch face, and offers some bonus features that the Ronstan does not, but it also comes with a heftier price tag: $175 versus $65 for the Ronstan. The Gill’s buttons can be locked to prevent accidental setting changes mid-race, and its countdown feature gives a sound signal every minute, and, in the last minute, the seconds count down in a large full-screen display. What really set the two apart was the Gill watch’s digital compass, which enables users to take sightings from any where on deck, and the fact users can change the battery themselves without compromising the watch’s waterproofness.

The Regatta Master is a notch above the Ronstan, but the ClearStart is a budget-friendly race watch that will suit more casual racers fine, and some will prefer its petite size (1.5-inch face), basic functions, and easier-to-read numbers.

For the sailor who has it all, consider making a donation in their name to a local sailing charity. Some nonprofits—and even some businesses—sell clothing or other items, with proceeds benefitting local sailing. For example, we loaded up on Hippowear gear from Go Kinship! (, a company that markets sailing clothes and accessories—shirts, technical clothing, hats, sail bags, dog collars, etc.—and the proceeds help fund youth sailing programs in Massachusetts. (Hippowear is named for the company’s mascot: Clyde the Hippo.) Buying holiday gifts from companies like Go Kinship! means you get to give cool gifts and help a good cause all at the same time.

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