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Sailing clothing: what’s new for this season

What with the Olympics and the America’s Cup, much of the recent development in sailing clothing has been focused on racing gear. Much of that feeds through to the cruising world and of course the dinghy racing scene. Our guide here gives a glimpse of some of the great new kit on the market for you, whether your boat is a Westerly Centaur, a Laser or even an AC75.

 

Cruising foulies

Gill’s mid-range OS3 (above) wet weather gear has had an overhaul this year. Designed for coastal sailing, the jacket has seen some technical improvements. Performance comes from two layers of fabric, offering up to 20,000mm of waterproofing and 60 per cent breathability. This system has been rebranded Xplore, and represents medium to entry level performance, with excellent durability. Intriguingly, Gill is one of the first brands to switch to a plant-derived waterproof treatment for OS3, instead of the eco catastrophe that is standard fluoropolymer DWR. It performs better, too.

Aussie brand Zhik has had a busy year. This autumn will see it launch its new OFS800 offshore range, developed with Volvo Ocean Race teams Akzonobel and Dongfeng.

“We are very excited to see this new range come to life,” says Drue Kerr, Zhik’s design and production manager. “It is the culmination of years of R&D, design, lab and real-world testing. The range showcases the modern design ethos of Zhik and our deliberate, innovative approach to technical apparel. Extensive user testing plays a role in every collection we build, and the new OFS800 range will be highly reflective of this.”

Zhik has also launched a women’s version of the OFS700 jacket, built of two-layer Apex fabric. And it has launched the INS200 jacket and salopettes for coastal cruising. Designed to look slim and clean, the jacket is lightweight – for example eschewing inner storm cuffs for a polyurethane coating that helps with a snug fit. It is built with three layers for waterproofing that lasts longer than the average without compromising breathability. Suited to medium exertion.

 

Big boat racing

Musto has been working with the British sailing team this year. Its lightweight LPX range is pitched at the performance crowd, and the LPX jacket is now one third lighter still thanks to the latest Infinium fabric from Gore-Tex. It’s not waterproof, but it does stop wind and spray.

LPX also offers a mid-layer jacket for use when extra warmth is required. It is as stretchy and active as the whole range, but with the addition of Primaloft insulation to trap heat. Finally, the next-to-the-skin layers in LPX have been redesigned in Singtex Ice-café yarn, which astonishingly uses discarded coffee grounds to absorb sweat and odour. The fabric of Sunblock Dynamic t-shirts contains 25 per cent “post-consumer” grounds – literally tiny fragments of coffee bean set into the yarn. The yarn also contains micro-channels that can cool your skin’s surface temperature by up to 3 degrees – like Xylitol, but without any chemicals.

Helly Hansen has refined its top-of-the-range Aegir smock jacket with a new modular version. Thomas Coville has been key here. The legendary ocean racer’s feedback has gone into making the Aegir a kind of three-in-one jacket. Because Coville’s grinding work is done in the relative shelter of the cockpit on his Ultim trimaran Sodebo, he needs a shorter jacket; on deck he wants the longer skirt for protection from spray and wind; and the entire hood assembly comes off easily as required.

Dry-suit grade waterproof zips on the front panel can be opened for ventilation without the need to remove the garment. The construction is in four-ply HellyTech fabric, offering more than 20,000mm waterproofing and breathability between 10,000 and 20,000g/sqm/day.

191016_ROSS_PORTSMOUTH_1374.CR2 – The AC75 “Defiant” sailing in Newport, Rhode Island.

Their America’s Cup campaign may be over, but American Magic wore Helly Hansen’s new technical gear for the challenger series. Although the team’s garments were naturally customised for the race, there is a commercial offshoot called HP Foil Pro. This summer it is being extended to include a softshell smock top and a softshell jacket very similar to the ones worn by the US team and their support crew. Lightweight, close-fitting and very stretchy, these aerodynamic tops are of course very waterproof and breathable.

HARRYKH

Henri Lloyd has also been hard at work on America’s Cup clothing, partnering with Ben Ainslie’s Ineos Team UK. Ainslie’s quest has ended early, but Henri Lloyd’s Aero Foil range is still available to buy. It includes a long- and short-sleeved rash top, long johns, neoprene bottoms and the all-important warm-up jacket. Many items are sold out, but Henri Lloyd tells me it is gathering the feedback from Ainslie’s team to decide on any improvements ahead of a restock this summer.

“We are sailing in 25-plus degrees of heat in a black trench with no airflow, so for us to have kit that we can be close to max heart rate in, be comfortable in, be super sweaty in, and the kit not be an annoyance is fantastic,” says ITUK grinder David ‘Freddie’ Carr. “Then as soon as we finish the racing and we are relaxing and calming down on the tow back in, when the wind chill is quite high, to chuck on all the relevant kit to keep you primed and warm and ready to hit the dock in good shape is equally as important.”

Alex Thompson has helped Zhik develop its INS300 race smock, whose Aroshell fabric is lightweight but twice as waterproof-durable as other leading brands, according to Zhik’s Drue Kerr. It is optimised for extreme levels of breathability and manoeuvrability. “With the cockpit design onboard the new HUGO BOSS, I was dryer, warmer and more comfortable during this Vendée Globe,” says Thompson. “But those design choices presented some new challenges when it came to technical clothing. With the help of the team at Zhik, we’ve been able to select a range of technical gear that should be comfortable, breathable and durable – all of which is so important over such a long period at sea!”

There is also a new INS100 jacket, which has taped seams, low-profile pockets and full waterproofing, but has a short, sporty cut for inshore sailing.

Meanwhile, there is a new range of technical clothing from Sweden’s Baltic – a company best known for its lifejackets. Baltic’s Pacific jacket and trousers are a three-layer system offering four-way flex and middle-of-the-road waterproofing and breathability for inshore racing. The polyester Ulven fleece is a capable mid-layer, as is the Ymsen top, made of Merino wool. There is also a Merino wool top and longjohn as a warm base layer.

Drysuit specialist Hammond has launched its own next-to-the-skin top (above). Made of brushed polyester, the CoreTek Base is flexible enough to serve as a comfortable base layer in cold conditions or a top in its own right when it’s warmer.

 

 

Dinghy racing

Rooster have a new women’s Supertherm 4mm Top (above). this is made from neoprene, fitted to suit female sailors, with a contoured panel layout. There is also a junior version. Gill has launched a new technical range of eco rash vests for men, women and kids. They are lightweight, with flatlocked seams and four-way stretch for comfort. They also offer more than 50SPF and, all-importantly, are woven from yarn made of recycled plastic. Pick the large size and you’ll be wearing the equivalent of 13 PET drinks bottles in fact.

No EXIF Available

A range of breathable neoprene garments called Flexlight Vapour is Musto’s latest dinghy offering. They are built of Ventiprene, which has all the insulation and stretch properties of normal neoprene, but contains miniscule channels that allow four times as much water vapour to escape from inside. They also use water-based glue, eliminating a reported 600g of volatile organic compounds per garment. Available as a long-sleeved top, longjohn, standard bottoms or shorts for both men and women.

Zhik’s famous Powerpad hikers have been re-engineered with the help of Carbitex, an expert in flexible carbon fibre. The pads provide support when hiking out, but also mould to the leg for comfort and performance. New microfleece hikers (above) have also been developed with the input of Australian Olympic Laser sailor, Matt Wearn.

To protect against sunburn on the water, Zhik has launched a new UVactive range of long- and short-sleeved shirts in polyester which far exceed SPF50 requirements and wick away sweat. And there’s a new baselayer in 210g polyester knit suitable for sailing and other sports.

 

 

Footwear

Gill’s new Offshore Boot has just hit the shelves, after a punishing work-out from Louis Burton (above) in the Vendée Globe race, who likened them to “wearing slippers” – presumably in comfort terms rather than waterproofing. The current design actually owes more to Conrad Colman and the 2016-17 Vendée, though. “The starting brief was a lightweight, flexible boot that was absolutely waterproof, and would remain waterproof over thousands of nautical miles,” explains Gill’s head of product development Matt Clark.

“In addition, he wanted a way of integrating the boot with his salopettes so they provided an extra level of protection against seawater flushing over the deck an around the cockpit. Early prototypes involved hot-gluing fabric gaiters to boots so we could get them out on the water and gather first-hand feedback – something you just don’t get from the lab.” Burton’s debrief notes and product feedback from 80-plus days of constant use will now feed into the next generation of this style.

Heritage brand Wuzzos has taken a slightly more technical turn this year, with the launch of a leather shoe with shock-absorbing outsole. Ridges of rubber on the sole of the Corinthian Pro deaden sudden impacts to preserve your joints. There’s also a microbial treatment to keep them smelling fresh. Wuzzos traditional leather boat shoes can now be personalised with a monogram, logo or boat name.

 

 

Casual wear

All the big brands vary their shoreside collections every year, and there are plenty of sale bargains to be had. But there are also some small start-ups making waves for summer 2021. One of our top picks is Bateaux Designs, which has launched a collection of t-shirts and sweatshirts bearing tongue-in-cheek slogans. The Whatever Floats Your Boat range is made of organic cotton, printed in the UK and shipped without plastic

 

Getting greener

The environmental footprint of sailing gear is threefold. There’s the fabric and materials themselves, which are often synthetic and can have a toxic production cycle. Then there’s the so-called Durable Water Resistant treatment which makes water bead off the outer layer. It is still usually a form of fluorocarbon – a family of chemicals that don’t break down for thousands of years. And finally, there’s all that plastic packaging.

Clothing brands are getting to grips with these issues slowly. Some, like Gill, are experimenting with plant-based DWR, for instance. And Musto uses PC3 in its non-Gore fabrics. Meanwhile, Zhik is going bring forward a collection of gear this autumn and next that uses non-perfluorinated DWR and polyester from recycled plastic. Musto too is looking at these issues through its tie-up with Eleventh Hour Racing, and is launching a new range later this year. Both Musto and Zhik have also eliminated tonnes of plastic packaging from their supply chains.

Henri Lloyd has launched a clever repair service to extend the life of its products and reduce waste. And it is looking at using more recycled yarns in its products. Its website already has a ‘100% recycled’ filter which allows you to browse – currently it only pulls up polyester base layers and several styles of Mav jacket, although there are ambitions to go further.

Helly Hansen has a comprehensive environmental policy, but it’s not clear how much it has achieved with its sailing gear. It reports that the majority of its fleece and insulation is now made from recycled plastic.

 

Photo by Martin Karuzoré | 11th Hour Racing

Musto and 11th Hour Racing

US racing outfit 11th Hour has joined forces with Musto to develop their ocean racing gear further, and to promote environmental sustainability. The results of the collaboration will be seen this August, when the pair launch a new commercial range of sustainable clothing.

But the tie-up has already led to some positive developments at Musto. “The partnership with Musto goes back to the last Volvo Ocean Race as Vestas 11th Hour Racing,” explains 11th Hour skipper Charlie Enright (above). “We challenged Musto to find a more environmentally-friendly plastic packaging solution. The project has resulted in savings of more than 4,000kg of plastic packaging across two product collections, and has paved the way for Musto to save over 11,000kg of plastic each year.” This is just the start, according to Enright. He says that there will be developments in the sustainability of the fabrics themselves and the production processes behind them.

In its IMOCA 60 campaign for the Ocean Race, Eleventh Hour itself is going much further. “We have been trialling sustainable materials including flax for hatches, recycling and reusing carbon waste, monitoring our water footprint, our waste management, energy usage etc,” says Enright. “We hope that by sharing all of this information openly in our annual sustainability reports, we can really effect change from the inside of the marine industry.” To this end, the team is also finalising The Toolbox – a suite of tools that will allow sports teams and event organisers to up their own sustainability. It will be available this summer – register your interest at: sustainabilitytoolbox.com​.

 

 

 

 

Dubarry Aquatech

Dubarry’s new Aquatech collection has been designed as crew gear wear, able to be used for a wide variety of nautical activities.

The collection consists of clothing and footwear with the clothing containing protective features ranging from UPF sun protection, wind and water resistance to breathable performance.

 

 

 

 

Gill gloves

Gill is a market leader in sailing gloves and offers a broad range for different types of sailing. From the short-finger Championship glove to the head-wearing Pro, they have had a redesign this year to improve fit and durability.

“Analysis of wear patterns and breakage points allows us to reinforce key contact zones and engineer flex points to improve performance and comfort,” says Matt Clark, product development director at Gill. “For this latest collection… our most radical change has been the elimination of the extended cuff with a velcro closure, a feature that can be uncomfortable, restricts movement and gets in the way of your clothing. Our new adjustment across the back of the hand allows you to take gloves on and off with ease, even with cold and wet fingers.”

They all use the same high-end fabrics and ergonomic shape, including offset finger seams to relieve pressure points and Dura-Grip reinforcing on palms and fingers. The sturdy Pro gloves, available in long- and short-finger varieties, have fingers in Proton-Ultra HD, which offers incredible protection but remains very soft to the touch. The 3 Seasons gloves have a touchscreen compatible pad on the finger tip, and the Helmsman glove has Thinsulate insulation, a waterproof and breathable membrane and extended gauntlet.

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