With some amazing developments in high performance sailboats in the last 5 years – what has the clothing industry done to keep up?
Sailing high performance sailboats requires a different approach to clothing than other related sports. The physical demands on the body are high yet the time waiting around between races either on or off the water can make us feel cold quickly. Added to that, we must consider that water takes heat from the body 27 times faster than air; at best we spend most of our time in the spray line. Getting cold can be at best uncomfortable – and sometimes even dangerous. Long periods can be spent on the water, where conditions can change from warm and gentle breezes – to strong sea breezes that result in high wind chill factors.
Getting too hot dehydrates us quickly, and can leave us feeling faint.
Too cold – and our bodies start to shut down with an increased risk to joint and muscle injuries.
The never ending question is “what shall we wear on the water today?”
“Until recently the developments did not seem to be directed at dinghy sailing – I must have cut the neck out of every steamer I ever owned! I used to use the Combi steamer to improve my upper body mobility, but then I got tennis elbow from unprotected wrist and elbow joints. My kit bag was massive – I had a Shortie Wetsuit, a long john, a 3/2 Combi, a Steamer and a Dry Suit. I used to travel to events in a van so that I could take it all! Leave one behind and the weather would change and I would wish it was there” – Steve Cockerill
You can see where my drive for designing a multi layered approach
Recently neoprene hiking shorts have revolutionised the protection and comfort aspect for hiking boats, covering the legs and lower organs with neoprene, leaving the way open to find warm flexible fabrics to cover the top half of the body.
But there is more to sailing fabrics than just neoprene. In the last three years we developed a top/mid layer garment from a really thin polyester fleece with a 0.3mm coating of Urethane. It is an amazingly durable and waterproof² fabric and yet can be washed and tumble dried repeatedly¹. It acts as a fantastic wind chill protection layer when worn as an outer layer on its own and offers plenty of warmth when worn as a mid layer in extreme conditions. It is a vapour permeable fabric which we have called ‘aquafleece’.
Lighter thinner neoprene fabrics have been developed that allow more stretch and more warmth for their weight. Very thin neoprene (0.5mm) has been successfully laminated onto a Lycra or nylon covering which we have made into a long sleeved top called a ‘hot-top’. It is an ideal warming mid/base layer, and can even work well as a top layer in very warm climates. This range has also allowed the trapeze sailor to go back to his old favourite – the long john. However with lycra or nylon outer layers, water can collect in the coatings which is ideal for evaporation but bad for wind chill protection.
The three models above show what to wear in a hiking dinghy in a range of conditions from very hot, tropical conditions to warm conditions here in the UK.
The first model is wearing Rooster Polyamide Lycra Leggings with a Rooster Polyamide Lycra Long Sleeved Top, which is UV resistant and cooling to the skin. Being white it also reflects the suns heat better.
All three of the models are wearing stretchy Rooster ¾ length Neoprene Hiking Shorts, and Rooster Hiking Boots, which are made with supporting straps locking the heel into position when hiking, and giving your knees support.
The third model is wearing a Rooster Hot Top which is a technical base layer made from 0.5mm neoprene with titanium lining reflecting all your upper body heat right back to you – for a warmer sail in summer.
The first model above is dressed for moderate winds in warm summer conditions, where wind chill can still have a big effect on your overall temperature. He is wearing a Rooster Aquafleece which acts as a thermal layer and a windproof and waterproof² outer layer.
The second model above has stepped into Autumn and has added a set of Rooster Polyamide Leggings and a Rooster Polyamide Lycra Top, to his Hikers and Aquafleece, keeping him warm as the seasons and weather are changing for the worse.
The third Model is now at the end of Autumn and entering the coldest sailing season – winter.
He has added a Rooster Hot Top which is available in both Male and Female sizes, and a Rooster Raceskin – a unisex Long John style product which fits very comfortably underneath a pair of Rooster ¾ Length Hiking Shorts.
The Raceskin is made from very thin neoprene with a terry lining to give it softness against the skin with added warmth and shape. It is a fantastic way of making your winter sailing feel like summer!
Finally the model has added a set of Winter Pro Gloves to his layering system, these gloves are made using neoprene and have excellent thermal qualities and shape.
The final two models…..
We are now fully into the Winter Sailing Season and heading for the coldest part which tends to be January and February in the UK. For this cold weather sailing you need your base layers of Rooster Polyamide Top, and Rooster Polyamide Leggings, your Hot Top and Raceskin, before you put on your Rooster Aquafleece (available in ladies cut and colours) and then your Rooster ¾ length Hiking Shorts add to that your Winter Pro Gloves and you’ll be warm on the water whilst still retaining the flexibility of movement you need to race.
The final model pictured above on the right is dressed for cold winter weather – the kind of extremes that put most people off sailing in the winter altogether. We think its such a shame because if you dress for the conditions you will stay warm and enjoy your sailing all year round.
You may have noticed that the final model is wearing a Rooster Beanie Hat which is made from the Aquafleece fabric which is windproof – meaning you need never have a cold wet head again! The Rooster Beanies clever design means it won’t fall off even if you get it wet!
The final part of the Rooster DS Layering system is the Rooster Dry Top which is made from a heavy duty breathable fabric that is flexible, comfortable and totally waterproof.
The total DS Layering system can be purchased on our website www.roostersailing.com for a price not dissimilar to the cost of a Drysuit which you might only wear for 2-3 months of the year – here we are offering a year round solution to your sailing kit needs, and at a good price too!
You need not worry again about what you need to wear to go sailing next, or find when you are out that you are cold, miserable and not enjoying your sailing.
Make sure you follow the size charts online closely when ordering online and read the washing instructions!