Having the wind in your sails is a powerful feeling. It’s an ancient emotion that has been passed down through the millennia thanks to the traditions and memories of seafaring cultures.
The visceral power of the natural world is all around us on both land and sea, but there is something special about being out on the open water with nothing but your nerves and a steady breeze.
I grew up trolling in small gas-powered fishing boats on the lakes of Minnesota rather than manning the rigging on majestic sailboats, so my experience with the topic is limited to a couple of outings. Regardless, the feeling was palpable and contagious, making it clear why the joy of sailing calls to so many.
The adrenaline rush of sailing even beckons some to race, pitting them against man, nature, and sometimes even their own vessels. The wind whispers to these sailors and pulls them to the waves.
The spectacle of sailing races is graceful and beautiful, a constant struggle not to betray to the spectators the extreme effort that goes into gliding across the water.
On the sailboat itself a ballet of power, skill, and technology occurs as sailors combine engineering with nature.
Of course a race wouldn’t be a race without a way to time it. In a regatta, there are many things that aren’t typical of standard races, mainly due to the vessels being powered by wind. As such, a regatta has a moving start that is carefully timed with a countdown chronograph so that every skipper can maneuver the sailboat deftly to cross the starting line at the very last second, not crossing too soon, which incurs a penalty, but not crossing too late, which means starting from behind.
Throughout recent horological history, brands have created regatta-specific chronographs that either run backward from a set starting time to zero or utilize running seconds and a reversed scale displaying a countdown.
These were pretty handy for keeping an eye on the time until the starting cannon fired, but they lacked a key feature: once the races started, these chronographs became useless because they didn’t track elapsed time.