© © Pierre Bouras / Disobey. / Apivia
Friday, 11 August 2023


Whatever the weather, sunglasses are an essential piece of kit on the water under both bright and cloudy skies, ensuring your eyes stay protected when practicing water sports. And this is even more true when performance on board is critical. But what type of frame should you choose? And which is the best lens for your sport? Can it be adapted to your vision if you need prescription eyewear? We answer all these questions here to help you see more clearly and take to the waves with a super-sharp view right to the horizon.


In environments with lots of glare such as on the ocean but also at the beach and in the mountains (water reflects around 10% of UV rays, sand 30% and snow 80%), and even if the weather’s cloudy, the sun is always potentially dangerous for our eyes. For example, although the sun’s rays are blocked by certain clouds (altocumulus), cirrus clouds have no filter effect at all. And fog allows 50% of solar radiation to pass through. The risks are therefore just as high as in fine weather.

Marie Tabarly - © Martin Keruzoré

Marie Tabarly - © Martin Keruzoré


Excessive UV exposure can trigger temporary inflammation of the cornea (keratitis) and even temporary blindness (snow blindness). The sun's rays can also exhaust the retina (erythropsia), or even penetrate the crystalline lens, causing it to become opaque over the long term (cataracts). These eye disorders highlight two essential functions that sunglasses must perform: to block out UV light and provide good coverage for the eyes.

As you’ll have gathered, protecting your eyes with sunglasses that block out 100% of UV light is therefore highly recommended when sailing. NB: only categories 3 and 4 are suitable for extremely bright conditions, as is the case at sea.

Jérémie Mion : © Nicolas Touzé

Jérémie Mion : © Nicolas Touzé


As well as protecting your eyes from the sun’s harmful rays and their reflections off the water, you’ll also need to shelter them from wind, cold, spray and anything else that could interfere with your vision. We highly recommend choosing a curved, wraparound frame with side shields (removable if possible) for complete protection. Adjustable temples are a good option for ensuring that your sunglasses stay firmly on your face. You can also opt for slim temples that slip easily under a cap, beanie or even a helmet. Finally, the cord (preferably a floating one) can quickly become an essential accessory, minimizing the chances of losing your sunglasses and making sure they provide maximum grip when tacking at high speed.

Discover our “Ocean Master” collection: sunglasses specially designed for sailing and water sports!

Advice from a pro with skipper Armel Le Cléac’h: “The comfort of the frame is key. For me, sunglasses are good if you can forget you’re wearing them. So they should be light, and comfortable on the ears and nose. At the same time, they need excellent grip because when you’re performing maneuvers, your head can move around quite suddenly. To protect yourself from the elements, the shape must also offer good coverage and sit close to the eyes, with sufficient venting to prevent fogging. Last but not least, the sunglasses we wear are tested to the max and sometimes get knocked around so tough materials are important. The Julbo models tick all of these boxes! ”


Our new SPECTRON HD 4 polarized lens is fitted on all our models in the “Ocean Master” collection and will give you exceptional vision and protection, whether you’re sailing inshore or on the high seas!

Key features of the lens:

  • High protection: protects your eyes from UV rays with a category 4 lens and a light transmission rate of only 7%.
  • High definition: latest generation polycarbonate that improves contrast on the water thanks to more vibrant colors, ensuring even more precise vision and less visual fatigue on long sea voyages.
  • Polarized: a filter compatible with reading screens and navigation instruments, removing 80% of reflective light and reducing glare on the water, allowing clear reading of the surface without being dazzled.
  • Water-repellent: coating on the outer side of the lens to facilitate water runoff and prevent marks for improved visibility and easier cleaning.
  • Mirror coating: improves filtering of visible light through a mirror effect applied to the lens, reflects beams of light and increases the filter effect.

Armel Le Cléac’h - crédit : © Jérémie Lecaudey / BPCE

Armel Le Cléac’h - crédit : © Jérémie Lecaudey / BPCE

The view of Armel Le Cléac’h: “Good vision is essential for knowing whether the boat is set up properly, mainly by observing the sails, and for analyzing the wind.  Being able to distinguish different colors on the surface of the sea provides information on the nature of the wind and how it might change: for example, the appearance of “cat’s paws” or little ripples on the water. Lens polarization which increases contrast, is therefore very useful. Photochromic technology allows us to adapt to any situation, because depending on which way we’re tacking, we’re either in the sun or shade. Clouds can also change the ambient light conditions very quickly. Having lenses that react fast is therefore essential, especially in regattas where you change tack more often than in offshore racing.” 


Photochromic, transition, adaptive, variable or changing lenses… Whatever you want to call them, the benefits for you are the same: they mean you only have to take one pair of sunglasses with you regardless of the light conditions (full sun on deck or in the shade of the sails) and whatever the weather (sun or cloud). Our REACTIV lenses react to UV light and are activated on contact with it. The stronger the sun, the darker the lens will get and vice versa – all in just a few seconds and without you having to do a single thing! Different  protection categories can be included within one lens (REACTIV 0-3, REACTIV 1-3, etc.). All you have to do is choose the one that suits you best. (Source:

For sailing and water sports, we recommend two lenses:

    • REACTIV 2-4 Polarized: offers high protection with a very dark tint when the ambient light is exceptionally bright and benefits from 99% polarization. Suitable for the high seas and high exposure conditions.
    • REACTIV 2-3 Glare Control: with an oil-repellent coating on the outside of the lens and 55% polarization to facilitate reading of on-board instruments and navigation screens, it offers superb visual comfort for leisure sailing and life on the coast.


If you wear corrective eyeglasses, you can design a model 100% customized to your vision thanks to our RX LAB program : choice of frame and color as well as a lens suited to your sport and style. We have more than thirty models that can be fitted with prescription lenses and this is done in our laboratory in France. But first you’ll need to talk to an optician retailing Julbo products in order to check on feasibility. In the meantime, have a look at all the solutions available for wearers of prescription eyeglasses.

To sum up, comfort is critical. We recommend opting for sunglasses specially developed for your sport so you can take on the waves, avoid injury and stay focused on your line and maneuvers. Once you’ve chosen your frame, don’t forget to try it on and make sure it doesn’t slip off your face when you lower your head and shake it slightly.

We hope this article has been helpful and wish you happy sailing!


Jérémie Mion et Camille Lecointre - crédit : © Nicolas Touzé

Jérémie Mion et Camille Lecointre - crédit : © Nicolas Touzé


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