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A Brief Explanation about a Major Complication #7: The Regatta Function

Anna Wu-Chauvineau
Le 28 August 2017

The Regatta Timer evokes a number of things. Salt water of the Atlantic, sailing races taking off, elegant, crossing the grey ocean waves, a brisk wind from the Bermuda coast, the squawking of seagulls watching you from above, suits completely wet and the breath we hold when a boat capsizes.

But beyond this pretty picture, the function itself remains too often unknown by common mortals. Only a number of bearded die-hard sailors, with faces marked by the whipping gusts of salty air after all the time spent at sea, still know how to work the Regatta Timer. It’s time to review the situation.

Vintage Heuer Regatta Chronograph

It’s actually a beautiful function, rarely used, and unfairly judged as useless by many. Nothing could be further from the truth! Let’s set the record straight, and finally uncover the real reason of its existence.

The origin of the function

The Regatta Timer is used by skippers during – wait for it… – regattas to evaluate the time that separates them from the start of the race. Unable to remain still at the starting line, the racing committee established a countdown system during which the boats position themselves, rocking back and forth, as close as possible to the starting line without crossing it. If crossed too early, a penalty is handed out. On the other hand, a boat that takes too much time crossing this line risks arriving too late at the finish line this time…

“The Regatta Timer is actually a ‘countdown’ function of either 10 or 5 minutes.
The Regatta Timer allows skippers to adjust their own countdown on their wrist
to evaluate more efficiently
how much time they have left.”

The watch we chose to illustrate this point…isn’t one at all! In order to properly explain the function as clearly as possible, we are going to isolate it. Lo and behold, a regatta chronograph from Tag Heuer. Here, no indication of time, only the countdown is of interest. A true skipper’s tool!

The external scale is a one-minute countdown, that may be activated and stopped by the black pusher on the upper right side of the case. The internal scale on the other hand proves to be a bit more interesting… It’s a countdown timer, adjustable between 5 or 10 minutes, depending on the official countdown. With its imposing plastic case and bright yellow and orange hands, the 70’s comes alive with a bang and we like it!

A very useful function for our friends with sea legs and a competitive mind. But don’t think we’ve left you behind. No sea legs under your belt? The salt in your hair, the whipping sea air in your face, wet and itchy bodysuits, and coarse rope you have to constantly tug on isn’t really your thing? Good news. You don’t need to be aboard a sailboat to use your Regatta Timer. Life, real life, is often a race against time.

Picture this. Your charming date is about to arrive in a few minutes, and since you came home late from work, you have but a few moments to prepare a last-minute dinner. The cupboards are empty, except for some linguine, fresh basil, garlic and a handful of cherry tomatoes. No problem, tonight it’s pasta con pomodorini freschi e basilico, a bottle of Mercurey from Burgundy, well-rounded and full of body, and the voice of crooners singing the classics.

You’ve got all the cards in hand. You get down to business and start cooking up a storm. 7 minutes of cooking time necessary for pasta al dente. As the seconds hand is trotting away, it’s time to jump in the shower. The Regatta Timer begins its countdown…7…6…5…4… exiting the shower 3…2… return to the kitchen, more or less clothed, 1… It’s ready! And not one second over. The pasta is perfect. The doorbell rings at this very moment….and you’re right on time! La vita è bella!