A few weeks ago past Rolex Sailor of the Year and one of America’s greatest sailors, Ken Read sent an email asking, “what lens tint would be best for me to see puffs and read breeze?” The ensuing chat with Kenny, and other sailors seeking our polarized lens technology has prompted us to offer advice on The Best Polarized Lenses for Sailing.
Why Polarized Lenses are Important for Sailors
A superior polarized lens will aid in identifying hard to read details such as wind velocity, direction, duration and even subtle current lines and water movement. Elements and indicators that are important to sailors. While wind and current are important to read, the ability to see below the surface can be critical at the right time (think: navigating shallows, reefs, coral heads, anchorages, or seaweed and polluted waters, etc).
Quality eye protection from the sun, spray, and harsh environments is most critical and should never be overlooked as long-term sun damage to the eyes and surrounding sensitive skin areas are common among sailors. The difference between great polarized lenses and the naked eye or non-polarized lenses is tremendous.
Polarized Lens Tint Summary
First and foremost, polarized lens tints are a personal choice. Always select the lens that feels best to you. Let’s also remember not all polarized lenses are created equal. See our blog post to understand polarization and the differences in various polarized lenses and materials used. Selecting a high-quality pair of polarized sunglass lenses or premium polarized replacement lenses for any frame should be a conscious choice.
Gray is a neutral natural tint that works well in more open, blue water environments. Pair with a Blue or Silver mirror in brighter conditions.
Brown offers added contrast and color separation for increased detail, especially when matched with Green mirror. Gold, Silver and Black mirrors will also compliment brown base tint.
For a great all-around lens, a neutral Gray tint can’t be beat. Colors will be natural. Polarization will offer enhanced detail, color contrast and heightened texture and tonal differences as the glare is removed from the water’s surface through a good pair of polarized lenses. Pair with a mirror color you prefer and you won’t go wrong. Unlike non-polarized tinted sunglass lenses that won’t remove glare and leaves a muted and more dull view of tones, texture and detail.
Best Lens for Offshore / Open Ocean
For most offshore, open ocean, big lake, or simply bright days on blue water we recommend a gray tint with a blue or silver mirror. Quality polarization will filter out and remove the harsh glare reflected off the water’s surface and sails, rendering truer colors, while adding texture and color tone for improved wind and wave pattern reading. Spotting details on the horizon are important for sailors anticipating what’s coming and where to go. For a slightly lighter tint, consider a less dense mirror such as Black. No mirror will be slightly more transparent and typically about 3 – 6% lighter than a blue or silver mirror and about 2-3% lighter than black mirror. Mirrors will reflect and block more light, rendering a base lens tint slightly darker – based on the density of the mirror applied.
Best Lens for Inshore or Shallow Water
Inshore or shallow water sailing in puffy, shifty confines such as bays, rivers and lakes, or where underwater masses are critical to navigate and recognize, consider a brown tint which will offer slightly more color contrast and separation. When combined with a green mirror you’ll enjoy added color contrast and detail definition. Other common mirrors on a brown lens will be gold and silver. Pairing a brown lens tint with any mirrors will reflect light and offer a slightly darker tint and contrast.
Important Lens Coatings and Treatments
Lens Coatings and Treatments are also critical for sailing and water use. Important considerations:
Scratch resistant Hard Coatings
Rear surface multi-layer Anti-Reflective (AR) treatments to absorb bounce back reflections and periphery light providing a sharper view.
Front Side Mirror will slightly darken the lens tint and reflect further unwanted light and reflections. Will also enhance the cosmetic look of your polarized lenses.
Dual-side Super Hydrophobic lens coatings are critical for all water use activities as this treatment will help water shed off your lenses and clean easier.
*All Tajima Direct polarized replacement lenses and polarized prescription lenses come standard with these performance lens treatments.
Cleaning your Polarized Lenses for Longer Life
Saltwater, sun, beach and sand environments are harsh and will eat up and destroy everything, including your polarized lenses. It’s critical you use fresh water to rinse your lenses prior to cleaning and when you want to remove saltwater or caked salt crystals before wiping them clean. Salt crystals, like sand, will scratch your lenses when rubbed or attempting to clean before removing the impediments.
Never wipe your lenses with salt, sand or impediments on them
Always use fresh water to remove salt, sand and impediments before wiping.
When possible, after each daily saltwater / sunscreen use, use warm non-abrasive soapy water to wash your lenses, then tamp off or shake water off before wiping clean.
Always use a micro fiber cleaning cloth or pouch to wipe your lenses clean.
Never use a towel, (dirty) rag or any shirt to wipe your lenses. A quality, clean micro fiber cloth is always recommended.
Take care of your quality polarized lenses and they’ll take care of you!
So what did Kenny do? Like so many sailors learning about Tajima Direct™ polarized replacement lenses, he took our advice and bought a pair of gray polarized replacement lenses with black mirror for his favorite sailing frames. Our patented Tajima Urethane™ polarized lens is made in our factory in Tajima, Osaka, Japan where we’ve been producing industry leading lens technology for eight decades. Tajima Urethane offers crisp optics of glass, is shatter and impact resistant, and offers superior scratch resistance all in one lightweight package with zero distortion. Tajima Direct polarized lenses are also available in prescription as Rx polarized replacement lenses.