The Shady Business of a Foredeck Racer

Post by - Published on 04/29/24 4:00 AM

Meet Gregor Owen, a seasoned foredeck racer. In his latest adventure, Gregor shares how his ingeniously modified sunglasses continue to stay far from Davy Jones's locker, but also shielded his eyes during a racing incident. With wit and salty wisdom, he highlights the underrated importance of protective eyewear in the sailing world—especially for foredeck crews, where the triumphs often come with trials!

Shady Business of a Foredeck Racer 😎
By  Gregor Owen

I have been working foredeck for longer than I care to mention! As everyone knows who is in the Foredeck posse, we are the ones that work the hardest, do the most difficult and acrobatic things, and suffer the foolishness of the after-guard doing silly things at the helm or the winch which can make our lives a bit hazardous. Like broaching in heavy air downwind, or having slow winch work. 


I have been knocked off the deck and overboard four times, thankfully having enough luck and adrenaline quickness to go through the lifelines and stanchions but able to grab them and have only three quarters of my body in the water and enough grip to pull me out high enough to get a hand from my crew to get me on board. I have been taken up the mast in the middle of races to rescue lost halyards, a parted topping lift, and work lines back into mast head hardware. 

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This brings me to my latest adventure under sail. I have been wearing amazing sunglass for several years designed by a Danish company that is engineered like no other sunglasses in the world. I had adapted the temples by using a round nose plier to form a  small ring at the end and have the frame attached to a cord by a small snap hook and then attached to my foul weather gear to make sure the sunglasses stay with me even if I get knocked off the boat. It has saved my sunglass from being lost on every knockdown and trip overboard.  

I was recently hit very violently with a 50 MM steel ring that was about 5mm thick at it's rim at the clew of a madly flapping jib while working foredeck. Apologies for my rather awful closeup below. The ring hit me in the center of my sunglass on target to hit me directly in the pupil of my left eye. The frame was perfectly fine after this impact - the lens needed to be replaced only because of an impact dent and scratch. The lenses in my frame were made from a ballistic material called Trivex. The foredeck crew members are the wild ones doing the really hairy stuff while the occasional goof in the afterguard suddenly create chaos and scare us! 

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The Danish design absorbed the terrific impact, and rebounded the piece of steel which did drive the sunglasses into my upper eyebrow and cut me a bit, as you can see. I was literally knocked down. That particular frame size and specific geometry were able to  only contact the hard bones of the eye orbit, and except for the cut, protected all the vital soft tissue. I have been thinking about designing a way to promote this frame and the ballistic Trivex material as the ultimate in regatta sun-wear for the discriminate sailors.  Especially the ones who need the lightest weight yet most incredibly strong eye  protection that is perfect for the dangers we face every race. I am an optician with an optical shop in Wilmington, NC it should be mentioned. 


I suppose any crew position could use this amazing protection, but first things first, us foredeck crews are at risk because of 'you guys back there'! But, everyone can join our eyeglass club, I suppose. 

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