May 26, 2010

Newport to Bermuda Race--what boots and gloves to wear.

Previously we discussed what foul weather gear to wear in the Newport to Bermuda race.  Now let's talk about boots and gloves.

First the feet.  When you don't care if they get wet, but you want them to dry fast, there is a large selection of athletic style shoes from Dubarry, Harken, and Sperry, to name a few, that have wonderful support and terrific traction.  Fit and style is the main consideration.   

When you want to keep your feet dry and warm you enter another category entirely.  Start with the socks.  Make sure they are wicking.  Just like with the base layer on your body, cotton acts like a sponge holding water.  Now lets talk about boots going from the top of the line down.  Dubarry Ultima is the best.  They're made from breathable, waterproof leather with Gore-Tex lining that wicks moisture away from your foot keeping it warm.  The sole is Dubarry's proprietary design with excellent traction.  The cut is at just the right height.  Extremely comfortable, the leather molds to your feet.  Gill has their version of a breathable leather boot which cost less.  Very good, but not quite a Dubarry.

From the breathable leather boots you jump down, and I do mean down, to the waterproof rubber boots.  They will keep your feet dry and with proper socks your feet will stay warm.  But rubber doesn't breathe.  The best suggestion when using these boots is to use them in conjunction with the athletic style shoes--switch off depending upon on the sailing conditions and what you are doing on the boat.  With high end breathable boots, they are all you need.

Now for the gloves. What you are looking for is something tough that also keeps your hands warm. Our first choice is Gill's new Extreme Gloves. They are  high performance, wind resistant gloves that give you the grip and warmth you need. They're made with 1.5 mm neoprene and lined with a hydrophobic insulation for extra warmth and comfort.  Our second recommendation is Gill's new Pro Glove.  Also incredibly tough with a new Proton Ultra palm and fingers for a great grip and prevents rope burn.  They are not insulated and come in short finger or long finger versions.  What's the best choice?  Go with both--you'll need them for the varying conditions.

Good luck sailing in the Newport to Bermuda Race.  I hope these last two post have been helpful with ideas and recommendations for what you should wear to make the race as successful and comfortable as possible.  Remember, foul weather gear is as important as any other piece of equipment on your boat.

For a complete selection of foul weather gear, boots, and gloves for the Newport to Bermuda Race I recommend you visit Whitecaps Foul Weather Gear at  They will give you excellent service and they offer free shipping, free merchandise, and terrific sale prices.

April 27, 2010

Newport to Bermuda Race--What sailing gear to wear.

This post is an excerpt of an article written by Nick Gill.  It's an excellent overview of what to wear in the Newport-Bermuda Yacht Race:

"I became involved in the technical sailing clothing business back in 1975 because at the time there was so little choice, particularly for the competitive dinghy sailor. Thirty years on things have gone to the other extreme, there is literally so much choice, from so many brands that the chances are you will end up confused on what is right for you. The danger is you will leave the decision making for another year and end up cold wet and uncomfortable.

A few key headline points to consider which emphasizes the need to have the right clothing

· Being cold and wet makes you tire easily and reduces your reaction time.
· With the right choice you should never have to be cold again.
· Cotton clothing absorbs moisture and up to 25% of its own weight, once it is wet it will stay wet for the duration.
· Wet or damp materials transfers heat 20 times quicker than dry fabrics do.
· Cotton should remain onshore and be replaced by technical quick dry polyester materials.


The race can begin in cold and windy conditions, and end in the sweltering heat and light airs, and probably most things in between. Night sailing is always a lot colder and depending on the size of boat could be between three and six days. These diverse conditions mean your kit bag will need a wide range of gear.

Layering – a personal climate control system

I believe it is best to look at your options in terms of layers. Hot or cold, the layering system makes enormous sense and it is your personal climate control system.

The Base Layer is vital. One of its main purposes is to keep you dry next to the skin and it does this by wicking moisture away from the body. In an hour of moderate exercise the body gives off half a liter of water – it has to go somewhere - and if you are wearing cotton it literally absorbs the water much like blotting paper. Once wet or even damp, it will transfer heat from your body 20 times faster than dry fabric. Remember that sailing is a sport where you can be sitting still for long periods then along comes a sail change or requirement to put a reef in and all hell breaks loose for a few minutes. You then sit down again. If you are wearing cotton clothing next to the skin it will absorb the moisture and suck the heat out of your body, leaving you feeling cold and clammy and tired.

Base Layer options

For the cooler part of the journey I recommend Gill i2 Lite. There are many choices of long or short sleeve, Crew Neck or Zip Polo’s as well as leggings and boxer shorts. Don’t forget the boxers as damp cotton underwear is no fun!

For warmer conditions, Gill has introduced technical long and short sleeve shirts. They are very fast drying, highly wicking and have a UV SPF 50 sun protection factor, essential for the latter part of the ARC rally. This new Technical Apparel range has a natural feel, is not tight fitting and is very comfortable for long periods.

The key elements of the Technical Apparel range are:


All garments adhere to these principals and also feature a water repellent finish so water beads off rather than soaks in. However warm and dry it is on a boat it is inevitable there will be damp decks and spray around at times.

The Mid Layer is the insulation or thermostat control. Just as Gill have a simple classification system for durability of the outer layer fabrics, our base and mid layers also have a straightforward classification system. It is known as the i37 body temperature regulating system - 37 degrees centigrade being the natural body temperature. The i series goes from i2 to i5 increasing in warmth as you go up the scale.

Mid Layer options

- i3 Micro Fleece – A lightweight fleece. This is a super soft and close fitting fleece providing warmth without bulk and comes in a top and trousers. In predominantly mild conditions but with cooler nights it is ideal under foul weather gear.
- i4 Fleece mid layer – This range is made in Polartec Classic 200 mid weight fleece and is available in a Zip Jacket, Zip Smock and Salopettes. It is slim fitting and flat seamed which is ideal as a mid layer and for wearing under the outer layer. As with all technical fleeces the i4 is quick drying. I particularly recommend the i4 Salopettes, as these are great to sleep in too.

- i5 Shelled mid layers

- I believe the ultimate mid-layer is the Crosswind jacket and salopettes. The outer layer is a lightweight waterproof laminated fabric. It is highly breathable. The insulation is an ultra compact material giving exceptional warmth without bulk. It is hydrophobic (water hating) meaning it can still keep you warm when wet. Combine these materials with a taffeta lining and the garments become so easy to slip on unlike a fleece lined garment. An added bonus is the garment has taped seams and can be worn on it’s own in moderate conditions.

- Another relatively new concept is Softshell. A sandwiched lamination of different materials giving warmth, wind and water resistance with stretch, giving appareled comfort in sailing wear. The Gill Softshell race jacket and pants are perfect as a mid layer or in warmer conditions as an outer layer
Outer Layer options

There are three suitable options in the Gill range depending how much you want to spend. Regardless of which you select, you will need a Jacket and Chest High Trousers.

The main difference between the garment options is the height of the collar and the durability of the materials. There are two types of material available. 2 -layer and 3- layer. The 2-layer option is generally lighter and because the coating is unprotected requires a lining in the garment. It is also less expensive and slightly less durable. The 3-layer fabrics are a sandwich with the waterproof membrane in the middle. The outer fabric gives the texture and the abrasion and snag resistance whereas the inner is a scrim and this protects the coating from wear and tear. Our 3-layer garments are the most durable, do not need a lining but are also more expensive owing not just to the fabric cost (more than 50% higher) but also the taping costs both in materials and labor.
Key West OS2
Our most suitable 2-layer garment is the Key West Coastal Offshore Jacket and Trousers. It is mid-weight, packed with features, has a collar that ends just at the top of the ears and is the most suitable suit for a wide range of conditions. If most of your sailing is coastal cruising with the occasional offshore passage, then Key West will do the job. It is reasonably priced, comes in Unisex and women's specific sizing and the women's trousers have a very useful drop seat.

As its name implies, the Atlantic is perfect for the job. It is made using a 4-layer fabric, heavier and more durable and it has a much higher collar. If you do a fair amount of offshore sailing and the occasional race then this would be my recommendation. Atlantic is made in our 5-dot Ocean grade fabric and has been restyled for 2006.

Ocean Racer
If budget is less of an issue there is the Ocean Racer jacket combining the superb features of the Atlantic suit but with many innovative design systems that reduce weight and improve the garment breathability but without sacrificing performance.
This is achieved by material selection; reducing flaps and overlays to a minimum and a cut that makes the garment so comfortable to wear. This is the range that Gill developed during the last Volvo Ocean Race with the crew of illbruck, the overall winner. The performance to weight ratio was key to them."

Excellent advice!  The next post will talk about feet and hands--boots and gloves.

For a full selection of Gill foul weather gear and for all your sailing gear needs for the Newport-Bermuda Yacht Race, visit  They give you three ways to save: Sale Prices, Free Shipping, and 10% of  Free Merchandise with orders over $150.  Plus, their service is outstanding.  Whitecaps Foul Weather Gear now carries Harken blocks and running rigging, anchor, dock, and mooring lines, too.

We'd also like to thank Gill, for all their help and adivce.

April 14, 2010

What does Waterproof really mean in foul weather gear?

The term "Waterproof" has to be considered very carefully when you are looking for foul weather gear and rain gear.  Does waterproof apply to the fabric or the garment?  There's a big difference.  You must make sure the manufacturer is not just talking about the fabric but the construction of the garment.  Making waterproof fabric is the easy part. What is difficult is making the garment as watertight as possible.

An industry standard, BS 3546, requires that fabric resist water to a pressure of 100cm.  That's really just a minimum and is good for walking in the rain.  But on a boat when you're either sitting in water or it's coming over the deck as though it were sprayed from a fire hose, that may not be enough protection.  Gill and some other manufacturers have a standard of 500cm--five times what's required.

But now that you know the fabric will withstand water as it should, it is critical that the garment is as watertight as possible. That starts with the seams, which unfortunately are punctured by a sewing needle with every stitch. The way to overcome this is by sealing the seams with tape that is applied using hot air to melt the adhesive onto it.

Waterproof fabric is the just the beginning.  First make sure it's up to the rigors of sailing and boating.  Then, you must find out if the garment has HEAT SEALED TAPED SEAMS.  The best wateroproof fabric won't keep you dry if the garment isn't constructed properly for sailing and boating.

We recommend yiou visit for a complete selection of waterproof and watertight clothing for sailing, boating, and fishing.  Their service is superb and they save you money with sales, free shipping, and free merchandise!

We'd also like to thank Gill, for all their knowledge and assistance.

March 15, 2010

Foul Weather Gear Garment Design and Breathability

When a jacket or salopette is marked as breathable is that the end of the story or just the beginning?

The fact is, that two different garments made with fabrics of the same "breathability" can have a very different "breathability" result. The design is absolutely critical to the level of breathabiity.

Breathability is affected by the linings and multiple layers of fabric--pockets, flaps over zippers, collars, reflective panels, etc.  No wonder racers want their foul weather gear as pocket free as possible.  That big pouch over the chest can hold a lot of items, but it also holds back vapor from escaping through the fabric.  And when you're burning a lot of calories during an active shift on deck you need all the breathability possible.

The other design component is the cut--how loose fitting is the garment.  Jackets and trousers that are too form fitting don't allow the air to circulate enough under the garment, inhibiting moisture flow and breathability.

So when making a purchase it's not just the fabric but how it's used in the garment--pockets, flaps, and fit--that really determines breathability.  The other part of this discussion is about the layers you wear underneath.  That's for next time.

For a complete selection of foul weather gear and sailing gear we recommend you visit They offer Free Shipping, Free Merchandise, and great Sale Prices, all with outstanding customer service.

We'd also like to thank Gill, for all their knowledge, help, and advice.

February 22, 2010

How breathable foul weather gear fabric is made.

There are two ways manufacturers make breathable fabrics--Microporus and Hydrophillic.

Microporus fabrics work because water molecules are larger than air molecules--as long as the "micro pores" in the fabric are less than 10 microns across (the size of water molecules) air molecules can escape while water molecules can't get in. Of course water vapor molecules are smaller than water molecules, so the water vapor escapes with the air.

Hydrophillic coatings are more advanced and therefore more complicated.  These coating are composed of a mixture of hydrophobic (water hating) and hydrophillic (water loving) molecules.  In the simplest terms, moisture from inside the garment is absorbed through this chemical chain and pushed to the outside, while the surface fabric has pores that let air enter.

So whether you sailing, boating, or fishing, the first thing to look for is the type of breathable fabric.  Both work, but as always, you usually get what you pay for.

The next topic will be how the design of the foul weather gear affects it's breathability--even though the fabric is breathable the cut and style make a tremendous difference in effectiveness.

For a complete selection of foul weather gear for sailing, boating, and fishing, visit Whitecaps Foul Weather Gear at They have great sale prices, free shipping and offer free merchandise. And their customer service is terrific.

We'd also like to thank Gill, for all their knowledge.

February 8, 2010

Breathability and foul weather gear

Breathable fabrics let the warm, moist air created by your body pass through the fabric instead of building up as condensation on the inside of the jacket or pants--and feeling damp and uncomfortable. 

The important point to remember is that there are different degrees of breathability. So whether condensation turns into that icky, damp feeling or escapes through the fabric depends also on the degree of your activity and conditions the fabric is exposed to.  In other words there is no such thing as a totally breathable, condensation-free fabric.

For a complete selection of foul weather gear, sailing gear, and rain gear, visit Whitecaps Foul Weather Gear at  They carry Gill, GUL, Ronstan, Harken, Dubarry, Atlantis, and SailFast.  You'll get free shipping, free merchandise, and great sale prices.

We'd also like to thank our friends at Gill, for their help and knowledge.

January 22, 2010

Fabric Layers and Foul Weather Gear

What do layers mean when we're talking about foul weather gear?

The most basic gear has two layers--the woven textile and then the coating or laminate finish.  This is light-weight and inexpensive to produce, but requires a lining because the coating is on the inside of the fabric and might feel clammy next to your skin.  The lining is not considered a layer.

Three layer fabrics start with the two layers described above, then add a tricot scrim on the inside to protect the coating (or laminate) and for comfort.  Why are three-layers better than the two-layers with a lining?  Linings inhibit breathability, are heavier than scrims, and are more prone to get caught or snagged.

Recently, some manufacturers like Gill have been making their top of the line garments with a four layer fabric.

Four layers have the outer textile layer, then a new layer of hydrophobic coating that enhances moving water vapor out of the fabric increasing breathability, then the waterproof laminate, then the scrim.  Obviously more expensive, but well worth it for high aerobic offshore sailing.

Which is right for you?  As always it depends on your kind of sailing, boating, or fishing.  For casual, inshore, the two layer fabric is fine. Going farther out, getting more physical, get the three layer fabric.  Serious offshore demanding the best--get 4 layer.  As with everything else in life, you get what you pay for.

For a complete selection of foul weather gear, rain gear, and sailing gear, visit  They offer great prices, FREE SHIPPING, and free merchandise.

We'd like to thank Gill, for their knowledge and advice.

January 19, 2010

First Step to Choosing the Right Foul Weather Gear

What goes into choosing the right foul weather gear for sailing, boating, or fishing? Choosing the right fabric and selecting the right design.

Over the last 5 years the greatest advances in foul weather gear for sailors, boaters, and fishermen has been in fabrics.  This is also the greatest source of confusion. That's why we'll address fabrics first, then deal with the differences in design later.

The basic role of fabrics is to provide protection from water and wind.  That's what foul weather gear has been doing since the first oil cloth was made into a jacket and trousers. The other, and just important a role, is to provide breathability--allow the perspiration and moisture your body generates to escape so you don't feel wet under the garment.

In the time of PVC coated fabric, the first step up from oil cloth and the material that many fisherman still wear today, the coating that makes the fabric waterproof would be on the outside. In fact the coating to fabric ratio was probably 20% fabric to 80% coating. That makes for a heavy garment! Today the ratio is reversed. And, the coating, or proofing, is on the inside rather the outside.

Not only that, but you have a choice of having coated fabric or laminated fabric.

Coated, the more traditional method, involves spreading a Polyurethane coating over the woven fabric.  Like a coating over a Dacron sail, the Polyurethane first fills in the the valleys of the weave then builds up to an even layer.

Laminates are the newest development. First the laminate resin is evenly and thinly spread over a non-absorbent paper, finely controlling the thickness. Then the "film" is laminated to the fabric and the paper removed.  The result is a light, softer, more flexible fabric with all the waterproof properties of coated fabric.

So the first step in making a foul weather gear choice is fabric type.  Coated is less advanced, less expensive.  Laminate is the current state of the art, more flexible, softer, lighter, more expensive.

For a complete selection of foul weather gear for sailing, boating, and fishing, visit... 

You'll  find great prices, free shipping and free merchandise!

We'd also like to thank Gill,  

for invaluable advice.