The Wenger Alinghi model and the Victorinox Helmsman- Two SAKs to make any sailor proud!
Made for the Alinghi racing team, winners of the Americas Cup, the Wenger Alinghi is just as impressive in person as the real Alinghi yacht is, only a significant amount more affordable! In doing some research on the Alinghi team for this article I also noticed that there is an official Alinghi team watch that I thought would make a neat angle for an article, but when I noticed the base model was a mere $24,000US, with the top of the line model being $90,000, I decided that was a little over the site’s budget, so bear with us! Of course the Wenger’s MSRP of $135 isn’t cheap either, but it’s mere pocket change compared to what these gentlemen are wearing on their wrists!
Getting back on topic, the Alinghi model is a fascinating new tool, incorporating not only the fancy new Ranger versions of the Evolution scales and the one handed opening blade, but also the fascinating new folding plier design. It also incorporates the more traditional Wenger innovations, like the patented locking screwdriver mechanism and locking blade.
The Alinghi model is significantly larger than many other offerings from Victorinox and Wenger
The main blade is partially serrated at the base, unlike the Victorinox OHT which is serrated near the tip, and also has the Alinghi logo printed on it. It is actually very sharp, both in looks and function. The OH blade opens smoothly and locks solidly in place with a solid snap. As with the other knives in the New Ranger series, the shield is a button that disengages the lock, and the system works quite well.
Is the marlin spike/shackle opener one of those things where size matters? The Alinghi's dwarfs the Helmsman's.
The Alinghi also includes a marlin spike and shackle opener, but as I have mentioned before, I have never opened a shackle or spiked a marlin, so I honestly cannot comment on it’s usefulness. I can however point out that its slightly larger than the one found on the Victorinox Skipper or Helmsman, and it also has ruler markings in centimetres and inches on one side of it.
You can see the pedigree of the old SwissGrip in the makup of the Alinghi
Interestingly enough, Wenger decided not to include a can opener on this model. It still has the bottle opener with integrated screwdriver and wire stripper. Instead of the can opener, Wenger includes a longer, dedicated flathead screwdriver which should address the concerns of people who deal with recessed screws on a regular basis, and for those who are familiar with the old SwissGrip, this is the same as the screwdriver on that model, which means that the screwdriver adaptor will fit the Alinghi as well- very handy indeed if you have a SwissGrip in the stable somewhere.
Without an OH feature, and a significantly smaller blade, the Helmsman seems like a good second choice
On the backside is the standard phillips head screwdriver and the scales are absent the toothpick and tweezers. For someone like me who uses the toothpick constantly, that’s a big deal.
Smaller than expected, the Alinghi's pliers seem capable of handling anything thrown at them
Of course I am saving the best for last- the thing you’ve been waiting for, the pliers! Being a new design , many people have been curious about these, and I can honestly say they weren’t what I thought they were going to be, but they are not bad at all. They are actually somewhat smaller than I was expecting, more akin to the pliers of the Leatherman Juice models, although being a 120mm Ranger I was expecting them to be much larger, more like the afore mentioned SwissGrip, also based on the 120mm Ranger frame. What has to be remembered though, is that this is a full sized set of folding pliers that disappear inside a Swiss Army Knife. Don’t think that’s impressive? Look at how many people complain that the SwissChamp pliers are too small to really be useful. Don’t believe me? The reason Tim Leatherman invented the folding plier tool was because the small folding SAK pliers just weren’t up to the task. Getting back to the Alinghi, the pliers are smaller than expected, but extremely capable, and comfortable.
But wait, there’s more! One fantastic thing that we have been seeing lots of lately in new SAKs, is one handed access to the various implements. Well, the Alinghi is no exception. The main blade is accessible by thumb hole, while the marlin spike and pliers can be opened on a pocket. Pretty slick!
The Alinghi sheath is available seperately, and is a triumph in it's own right. Clip, firesteel and whistle not included!
Oh yeah, and the really nice cordura sheath with drain hole and tie down point. And, with a knife this wide, you’ll appreciate the sheath as this SAK doesn’t pocket well.
All in all, the Alinghi is a well rounded tool that is certain to appeal to pretty well anyone who wants a good no nonsense tool and doesn’t mind a good sized pocket knife. There is another plier model in the Ranger lineup that may be better suited for the average person who does not need a marlin spike or shackle opener.