A friend of mine once tried to incorporate a new person into the mix of crew aboard his J/30 for a race by assigning that person the responsibility of keeping track of the starting time. As the time waned after the warning signal, it became apparent that this new crew wasnt totally in synch. "How much time?" asked my friend from the tiller. The new crew responded "About 30 seconds, maybe a minute." Experienced racers can image how exasperating that answer was for my friend. When it comes to starting a race, few things are more important than keeping precise track of the starting time after the preparatory signal. Sometimes even the most astute tacticians can overlook this essential aspect of racing, so anything that helps you and your crew keep track of the time should be a welcome addition to the program.
The folks at Ronstan have addressed this problem with their Clear Start watch, a water-resistant timing device with an oversized digital readout to keep you and your crew well informed about the countdown to the start. The watchwhich tells time by way of a 24-hour clockhas the option of audible alarms that can be set to alert you to the preparatory and warning signals. Theres also a synchronization function so that you can easily get the watch back on the correct time if you find that youre two or three seconds behind or ahead of the committees count.
And no matter what starting sequence the race committee uses10-minute, five-minute, or three-minutethe Clear Start can be set to accommodate the given sequence by selecting the appropriate program with a simple push of two buttons.
One of the best aspects of the Clear Start is that it offers multiple mounting options so you arent obligated to wear it on your wrist. You can remove the elastic wristband and use the enclosed bracket to affix the watch firmly to the boom, a bulkhead, or anywhere that its conveniently out of the way but still in view. This is an important feature because the downside of this product is its cumbersome sizeroughly that of a diminutive hockey puck.
Navigators in particular will be glad to know that the Clear Start also keeps track of elapsed time, so they can easily figure dead reckoning, or calculate the time owed to rivals on the racecourse. Try it out, but remember, with the Clear Start, you wont have any more excuses for starting late.