Sailing Sunglasses

Sailing is etched in Australia’s soul. From beginners on dinghies to seasoned professionals on luxury superyachts, the sight and sound of flapping sails and clinking masts is everywhere on our Australian rivers and oceans.

Who could forget the famous victory in the 1983 Sydney to race when Australia II came from behind to win the America’s Cup – making Australia the first country other than America to win the race in 132 years? But it’s not all plain sailing. Each sailing discipline (and there are many) present unique challenges and you need the right equipment to master them. And it may surprise you to know that sunglasses are an essential piece of sailing equipment.

Sailing sunglasses are no ordinary sunglasses. And the type of sunglasses depends on the type of sailing you’re doing, the strength of the wind and the prevailing weather conditions. As they say in the classics, it’s about ‘horses for courses’ and it’s really, really important to make an informed choice so that you can sail away with confidence. Your choice of frame and lens will make all the difference.

But before we delve into the various disciplines involved in sailing and how each one may influence your choice of sunglasses, let’s first look at six key aspects of maintaining optimum eye health and performance while you’re on the water.

UV And Spray Protection

men boating in sunglasses

men boating in sunglasses

Unless you have full wrap sunglasses (in other words, when the frame curves snugly but comfortably around your face), you’re leaving yourself vulnerable to damaging UV radiation getting through the gaps behind the lenses and into your eyes.  A wrap frame or 8-base curve radius frame puts up an effective barrier against these harmful rays and minimises the potential for lasting damage.

Wraps frames also prevent pesky water spray from escaping through the gap between your face and your shades and into your eyes.

Glare and Polarisation

We love Australia for its enviable climate, but when sunlight is reflected off the water, the glare can be blinding.  It’s especially problematic when the sun is at a low angle, and in addition to being unpleasant, a blinding glare which impacts your vision is also a safety hazard.  When you’re out on a fast-moving sailboat in the late afternoon, you need a clear view of everything around you. You need polarised lenses.

Polarised sailing sunglasses cut out this blinding glare and increase your ability to see contrasts clearly.  It also makes for more comfortable sailing and reduced eye fatigue.

Impact Protection

Sailing sunglasses need to be robust and durable in order to protect your eyes (and save you money on repeated replacements!)

The lenses should be made from a material with high impact resistance such as polycarbonate, nylon or NXTTM (TrivexTM).  It’s not a good idea to wear mineral lenses…ever.  The frame should be constructed from a shatterproof material that is able to withstand some rough treatment.

VLT Rates

‘VLT’ stands for ‘Visible Light Transmission’ (also sometimes referred to as ‘TV’) and this determines what percentage of visible light passes through the lenses and into the eyes.

It’s different from UV light which is the damaging radiation from the sun, which we know is extra vicious in Australia.

We generally recommend Category 3 lenses for watersports which let in between 8 – 18% of visible light.  If you’re doing the majority of your sailing in cloudier conditions, a Category 2 lens may be a better option.

Lens Coatings

Water droplets are a reality in the sailing world.  Seaspray, rain, mist…. there are plenty of ways that water finds its way onto your lenses when you’re out on the water, which is why a hydrophobic lens coating is a must.

This ensures that water droplets don’t accumulate on the surface of the lens, giving you clear, unhindered vision.

And why not go one better with an oleophobic coating on top of the hydrophobic coating?  This repels oils, sweat, dirt and dust and will give you the very best chance at visual clarity, awareness and comfort.

Retention System

A retention system is a fancy way of saying ‘how will your sunglasses stay on if you’re bombarded by a large wave or blasted by a particularly strong gust of wind?  Good for sailing, but unless your sunnies have a solid retention system, they’ll be overboard in a flash which is bad news for your eyes (and your wallet!)

Floating sunglasses or ones with a reliable retention system are the only two options to save your sunnies from a watery grave.

High Performance Sunglasses For Sailing

men sitting in boat with sunglasses

men sitting in boat with sunglasses

Sailing is exhilarating and exciting, but as anyone who’s spent time on boats will attest, it can also be highly unpredictable and there are plenty of inherent risks.  Weather conditions can change in an instant, decisions have to be made at speed and it’s a case of all hands on deck to gain control of the craft.

Experienced sailors stick to the mantra of ‘prevention over intervention’.  It’s better to be fully prepared than having to react when all hell breaks loose.  This approach encapsulates the reason why specialised sailing sunglasses are essential equipment for every sailor – whether a novice or a seasoned professional.

When you’re out on the water, you need to be ready at all times to meet risks and challenges. And having a clear vision of your surroundings is a hugely important aspect of being fully prepared.

Sea-spray, congested waters, harsh reflected glare, dazzling sunlight, rain and a barrage of harmful UV radiation can all compromise your vision and your safety – unless of course, you have the right eyewear.

Water sport sunglasses must be fit for purpose if you want to navigate your craft safely and in comfort.  They need to provide maximum eye protection and minimise potential hazards.  So, if you want to enjoy the views from the helm, progress from a dingy to a keelboat, be first around the buoy or just enjoy a day on the ocean off the spectacular Australian coastline, you need a pair of the best sunglasses for sailing.


Specialist eyewear for watersports enthusiasts.
Stay out there on the water and do what you
love for longer, while also protecting your eyes.

25 / 210 Queen Victoria Street North Fremantle WA 6159


+61 401 835 422

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