After being hit in the head by the boom of his sailboat one time too many, Palmer Rampell ’06 invented the Rampell Cap to protect sailors’ heads from those dangerous booms. Rampell, who lives in Palm Beach, Florida, first decided that swinging booms were a problem when he attending a summer sailing camp in 2001. Whenever Rampell changed directions, he felt the uncomfortable impact of the boom upon his head, saying bluntly that “it hurt.” Rampell tried many remedies to the swinging-boom problem before he began designing his cap. “I tried a baseball helmet, skateboarding helmet, and biking helmet, but none worked,” he said. He said that each helmet, while it protected his head from the boom, was lacking in a certain aspect of its design. After approaching his sailing instructor, Rampell decided that his idea of a creation that would protect a sailor’s head while not possessing any of the design flaws of headgear made for different sports was a feasible one. He set to work on his invention, which he said is primarily made out of plastic. “I would say that [my helmet] is more ‘cool,’ literally and figuratively, than a bike helmet or a skateboarding helmet,” said Rampell. He said that his helmet is more lightweight and “breathes better.” Rampell applied for the patent in fall 2001 and received notice that his patent application was accepted a year later. He was awarded patent number D478,398 S. After going through all of the necessary steps for applying for a patent, including having the object to be patented drawn by a “patent artist” and filling out a written application, Rampell said that he was thrilled to receive his patent. He also ensured that his invention was in fact unique by running a “patentability search,” in which he checked through a database of patents to make sure that no patented items matched his helmet. Rampell is currently looking to begin to manufacture and, ultimately, to sell his invention. He is in the process of creating a prototype, from which he will be able to produce a mold. Using this mold, more of his helmets will be able to be produced. Rampell hopes that his product will be on the market within two years. “If you look at all the kids that go to sailing camps, all the people who sail, professional and amateur, there really is a big market,” he said. A swinging boom may turn out to be a boon to his wallet after all.
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