Thursday, January 15, 2009

Hands On: New Gill Keel Boat Gear

Gill has redesigned their Keel Boat (KB1) line of foulies for the '09 season. The KB line consists of a jacket, hooded smock & salopettes (the kind of pants that come all the way up to your shoulders - no suspenders). All three pieces are geared towards inshore or near shore day racing - they are best suited for active buoy racing boats from J22s and M24s to Farr 40s. They all have minimal extra features and an athletic cut which keeps them very lightweight.

The '09 season brings some changes to the line but nothing drastic. The cut is a little roomier than it has been in the past to accommodate drinking a few extra beers after racing. The jacket and smock are available in both black and white while the trousers are black only. Both have some accent colors - the red stripes on the white jacket are not my favorite color combination of the year but the black looks very nice.

The other significant change is a move away from the uncovered waterproof Riri zipper to a velcro flap over a more traditional zipper on the jacket. This should ensure water stays out even if you spend all day hanging over a lifeline.

Here's a short video review of the changes in the trousers:

After filming that I learned that the official name of the innovative gusset I mentioned is the "Mr. P" gusset. So kudos to whoever came up with that nifty idea.

Overall the new Keel Boat jacket, smock & trousers are a welcome update to an excellent set of gear. At around $285 for each piece it's by no means cheap gear, but it's definitely the right stuff to have if you want lightweight & totally waterproof gear that will hold up to heavy use.

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