Windjammer Sunglasses: For Today's Angler
By Dan O'Sullivan
Bass anglers are unique characters. Not only do we demand peak of performance from our equipment, but we expect it to have cutting edge appearance as well. The polarized sunglasses of yesteryear were effective, yet bulky. Realizing that no angler wishes to look like a geriatric patient wearing sunglasses that look like an airplane windshield, sunglass companies responded.
Many companies worked to create styles that appealed to the modern angler with a sense of fashion. The surfer look has all but replaced the style of frames that had the side view windshields, but those frame styles often give up some performance features in pursuit of style.
Think about the eyewear a bass angler needs, and all of the required facets soon become apparent. Sunglasses for a bass angler must be light enough to wear all day; their lenses must be clear, free of distortion, with quality polarization that cuts the glare on the water to see bass and structure without problems. They must provide protection from the wind on high-speed boat runs, and give enough light protection so as to not affect visibility.
Just to be clear, I am picky about my eyes. I spent nineteen years of my life playing baseball, with the last nine of those years in pursuit of a career in the sport. I was a hitter, and to be the best I could I realized that my vision had a lot to do with that. I sought the help of eye doctors and coaches who could give me exercises to strengthen my eyes and improve my vision.
By my sophomore year in college, an age where most people's visual acuity starts to deteriorate, I still had 20/10 vision. Even now, at 35-years old my eyesight is 20/15, and I refuse to use a pair of sunglasses that will impair my ability to see clearly.
There are many quality fishing sunglasses on the market, and I have tried many of them; Oakley, Costa Del Mar, Solar Bat, Kaenon, H2Optix and others manufacture and market eyewear directly to the bass angler. All of those companies are reputable, and while their products are top quality, none of them have served all of my needs as an angler. Enter Sean Alarid and Windjammer Eyewear.
I was at a Future Pro Tour event last summer when I ran into Sean, the 2004 Junior Bassmaster World Champion, and I noticed his sunglasses, so I asked him to take a look at them. Sean said I could, so I took them from him and tried them on; I was immediately impressed with how they fit my face and blocked the light from the side of my face. I took them off and immediately asked him what brand they were. "Windjammers," Sean exclaimed. "My sponsor makes them, and I really like them."
A week later I ran into Sean again before the Snag Proof Open, and he volunteered to let me try his Windjammer Fuji's for the day, I said sure, and am glad I did. There were several times that day that I forgot I had sunglasses on my face, totally unusual considering that I usually have to take my glasses off several times a day for at least five minutes to give my eyes and ears a break.
The lenses were crystal clear, and the smoke color was dark enough to shade my eyes, but not so dark that I couldn't wear them at blastoff. However, it was one feature that made me really love the Windjammers, they had a soft gasket called a Sol.Air Gard that sealed the light out and completely blocked the wind on boat rides.
When I got back to the ramp, I talked to Alarid about the glasses, and ironically the reasons he liked the glasses closely mirrored mine. "I really like how light they are," Alarid explained. "The really block wind and sunlight, and that helps me with boat driving as well as sight fishing." Sean said one of the other advantages he has found with the Windjammer Fuji's is that the way they wrap around his ears eliminates the need for sunglass safety straps like Chums. "My Fuji's are very secure," he continued. "I own two pair and there has not been one time that I felt they were going to come off my face, even when turning around at blast off to see the traffic behind me." With all of the testing and Sean's information, I still wanted to know more, so Sean introduced me to Windjammer's Sales and Marketing Manager.
Russ Parker Jr., says that more than four years have gone into the development of their products, and that the company's goal is to produce eyewear that gives the bass angler as complete a package as possible. "Like the other quality sunglass manufacturers, we use only the highest grade polycarbonate to make our lenses," Parker said. "Our polarization is molecularly bonded to the lens material internally to eliminate delaminating."
Parker says that most manufactures strive for excellent lens manufacturing, but says that Windjammer offers other advantages. "Where our product truly stands out is in the attention to details that makes life easier for the serious angler." Parker said that the Sol.Air Gard for example is created with a venting system on top and bottom that helps create an anti-fog venting system despite the frames being snug against the nose and face.
The other unique function of the Sol.Air Gard is that it creates an environment that is totally conducive to contact lens wearers. "Sol.Air Gard helps eliminate irritation to contact lens users because it keeps wind and dust from entering the ocular cavity," Parker said. "However, if an angler must wear prescription sunglasses, we can make prescription lenses in most refractions, and we can even do a +2.50 bifocal for up close work."
Windjammers are available in four frame styles, and the company currently offers four lens colors, copper, smoke, brown and clear, for low light boat handling. All of the colored lenses exceed ANSI standards for UVA and UVB light absorption, as well as filtering 95 percent of harmful High Energy Visible blue and violet lights.
With all of these features as standard offerings, as well as one of the most technologically advanced frame systems on the market, I know that Windjammer Eyewear will be a tool that will add not only comfort and security to any angler's day, but the performance features may just help add where it really matters; in the livewell. Because the less time spent fumbling with sunglass discomfort or light, wind and dust infiltration, the better for an angler to focus on the fish.
Windjammer sunglasses can be seen and purchased on their website; www.windjammereyewear.com or call them by phone at (415) 389-0699. MSRP $95 to $135