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All Weather Clothing
Steve Cockerill's advice on how to keep warm in all conditions.

  Sailing a hiking boat such as a Laser requires a different approach to sailing gear than perhaps more sedentary boats. The physical demands on the body are high and the amount of time waiting around between races either on or off the water can make us feel cold quickly. This can be at best uncomfortable and sometimes even dangerous. Conditions on the water can change from warm, gentle breezes - to strong sea breezes that give high wind chill factors that again make us feel cold and unprepared even when we are in action. The never ending question is what do we wear on the water today? Dry suits are what many think as the ideal winter garment but does this apply for the Laser?

  To help, I probably need to tell you a bit of history. During the 92-96 campaign, sailing clothing used to be weighed as a regular occurrence to ensure that competitors were keeping within class rules. All sailing gear worn to just below the knee would be put into a big bucket of water and soaked, it was then weighed after draining for 1 min. To comply with class rules it all had to weigh less than 11Kg. We were also wearing weight jackets which on their own weighed 3Kg. This allows only 8Kg of sailing gear for winter sailing, there was hardly any weight left for a steamer and a pair of hikers. Even drysuit wearers would have their suits removed and all the gear (even if it was dry) dunked into the bucket, drained and weighed. As you can guess, the drysuit wearers were never found to be legal even without a weight jacket.

  The basic accepted gear that could be worn was a hat, a 3/2 combi steamer, some half length hike shorts and a dry top. This was clearly not suitable for winter qualifiers and to be honest it was really a bit stupid in my opinion. When weight jackets were eventually banned we had hoped to have been able to enjoy warm racing again, however, we still have a limit for sailing gear for the Laser standard of 9Kg, Laser Radial 8Kg and 4.7 7Kg, but at least this excludes your footwear! Dry suits wearers can now have their gear weighed in either of two ways, the inner layer weighed separate from the outer layer (which is dunked) or combined with the outer layer and treated the same way. Funny how it has never caught on, probably because you could not wear the Dry suit and hikers and still be legal, or maybe because laser sailing generates large amounts of perspiration which would normally not be coped with by a so called breathable drysuit with thermals.

  There must be other ways to keep warm. Thankfully there has been a revolution in developments of materials available to the marine industry, and this has helped the plight of the cold sailor.

  Hiking shorts have got lighter and more flexible with some manufacturers concentrating on reducing the overall weight of hikers to allow more warmth on the upper body. There are other neoprene garments that are constructed of very thin neoprene (0.5mm) that is laminated onto a Lycra covering. These give the sailors the option of layering their clothing, which adds to the warmth, whilst still allowing for a good freedom of movement. The only drawback is that you still need to wear a lycra rash vest as the neoprene inner layer can be a little harsh on the skin. It is also a bit yuck to put on when it is wet second day of a qualifier - Nice! Thermal layers made by manufacturers such as Gul are quick drying (1 min drain rule) and thankfully Juries have stopped the regular process of weighing sailors, but is that by design?

   am often asked what should a laser sailor wear? I have always tried to make sure that I have a contingency plan to help me warm up or cool off depending on the conditions that I find on the water. To this end I have always tried to mix and match my core sailing gear to cover all eventualities.

 

  Height of summer with light winds - hikers and polyamide lycra rashguard.  White and black rashguards in stock. Yes that's Steve, handsome lad, isn't he.
Height of summer with strong winds - hikers and rash vest and aquafleece.   Of course Steve is talking about British summers!
  Warm summer day - 20 knots- hikers, Aquafleece (June 29th 2003)

  Cool summer day - hikers, Aquafleece, polyamide top under the aquafleece (soon to come)

  Autumn Qualifiers - wind - hikers, race skin, aquafleece, polyamide top under the aquafleece (soon to come)
  Winter Sailing - Race Skin, Rooster Hikers, polyamide top or hot top under the Aquafleece.  And Winter Pro gloves when it is really cold.

 

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