Ocean and Offshore Race Gear Guide
Selecting the Correct Gear For an Offshore or Ocean Sailing Race
In the course of a long ocean race you will likely encounter a variety of weather conditions. With the correct ocean sailing gear you will be well equipped to not only handle cold, wet weather but also the warm, clear days with a high UV index and warm, wet days where you need to stay dry but don't want to overheat. The key to staying comfortable in all conditions during an ocean sailing race is layering properly.
The first piece of gear that most people think of when thinking of clothing for ocean sailing is the offshore jacket. A good ocean racing jacket is not only completely waterproof but is also breathable, lightweight and designed in a comfortable ergonomic way to allow racing sailors the maximum range of motion. The above ocean racing jackets by Henri Lloyd, Gill and Zhik are designed with these criteria in mind. Each of these Ocean racing jackets also have High visibility hoods to allow the sailor to see in heavy rain and spray conditions and reflective patches, an essential safety item in the case of a man overboard.
It is a common misconception that a big offshore sailing jacket is designed to keep you warm. The outer shell jacket is designed to keep you dry, which is why it is important to wear a good fleece midlayer when sailing offshore in colder tempertures. Fleece midlayers provide excellent warmth without adding too much bulk, which makes them an essential piece of your offshore sailing gear.
There are many important factors to consider when selecting a base layer to wear under your offshore sailing gear. A lot of racing sailors still wear their favorite cotton regatta t-shirt under their foul weather gear. Cotton is the worst material to wear as a base layer when sailing especially during a long ocean race because it absorbs moisture which adds weight and makes the sailor cold in cold weather and warm and muggy in hot weather. The best base layers to wear when sailing are moisture wicking and fast drying. We have a two rows of base layers in our selection guide above to provide base layers for sailing offshore in hot weather and base layers for sailing offshore in cold weather. Base layers provide UV protection for offshore sailors, all of the above Gill and Zhik base layers provide UV 50+ sun protection.
Safety is an important consideration when ocean racing. A good offshore life PFD and Harness are important safety features and are necessary when racing offshore. The Spinlock Deckvest Lifejacket Harnesses combine these two pieces of equipment into one piece of offshore gear. Both versions are self inflating with the pro-hammer using a pin to burst a CO2 canister and the Pro-Sensor using a chemical reaction to inflate.
It's important when racing in the ocean to have a good pair of offshore sailing boots. Features to look for in offshore sailing boots are waterproofing and good grip.The Gill tall yachting boot is a popular sailing boot that offers a great value. The new ZK Seaboot from Zhik features dual layers of waterproofing and the same legendary grip as their ZK shoes.