'Green' sailing showcased at Navy Pier

January 28, 2011 4:28:54 PM PST
In the middle of winter, sailing may be the last thing on your mind. But that's not the case for some sailing enthusiasts who have already started planning for the warmer days of summer.

Strictly Sail Chicago has moved into Navy Pier this weekend and it's a sailor's paradise.

"Basically, they see the latest in the boats, in sailing technology and gear and boating accessories as well as over 200 seminars with amazing speakers that have been around the globe sailing and learning about life," said Colleen Kenny, Strictly Sail Chicago.

Much of the new technology also respects the planet. A torqeedo engine is said to be the 'greenest' of its kind. It's powered by lithium batteries that can run up to thirteen hours on a full charge. A sun-powered vent helps circulate fresh air on a boat to stave off mold and mildew. A solar-powered charging deck keeps all of your hand-held gadgets juiced.

"You can charge anything from your phone to your iPhone to your Blackberry to a fish-finder battery to your GPS," said Kelly.

After sails have seen their last days on the mast, they can find new life as boating gear.

"This is a fleece-vest made out of recycled sail and the fleece is made out of recycled plastic bottles. These are children's bibs that are made out of recycled sails as well," said Kelly.

When he was 16, Zac Sunderland set the world record as the youngest person to ever sail around the world alone. The now 19-year-old says sailing is among the most eco-friendly water sports.

"Sailing is incredibly green, especially long distance sailing because you can't carry enough fuel across oceans especially sailboats to generate power all the time. So in my boat Intrepid, the one I sailed around the world with, I had three solar panels, a wind generator, even my auto-pilot was a wind vane. So it was completely green the entire time," said Sunderland.

Sunderland is hosting daily seminars at the convention. Strictly Sail Chicago runs through Sunday. Tickets are $15 for adults. Kids under 15 get in free.