Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Hike Harder with the Airprene Hikers by SEA

Small boat sailors this is for you! The Sail Equipment Australia (SEA) Airprene Hiking Pants are serious gear for active sailors where hiking is required. If you have never used hiking pants, but race a boat that has hiking straps, you are missing out!

There are several advantages to using hiking pants (not the least of which is a great excuse to hang out in spandex). They’re available in ¾hiker, waistlock pants or waistlock shorts.

The ¾ quarter length offers the wearer knee protection for those squirrely down wind legs when a wipeout is only the next wave away. 

The waistlock system keeps the pants in place with 4 different Velcro adjustments.  It works great and you can see the detailed view of how it works at the 1:50 time stamp on the video. 

The waistlock offers freedom from shoulder straps and still saves the race committee from seeing a bunch of plumbers sailing towards the finish line, finding race committee volunteers is tough enough already.

The main benefit of these pants is the 10 ½” x 7” battened pads on the thigh. These hard battens sewn onto the back of the thigh distribute the point load from the gunnels of the boat allowing you to hike harder and longer while being more comfortable…if you’re into that sort of thing.

One last feature that I would like to mention is the construction material. SEA makes this version of their hikers in a material they call Airprene. Airprene is a perforated 3.5mm neoprene which allows it to be durable and stretchy but also not nearly as hot as a standard neoprene.

The sizing on these pants is pretty true to size and should correspond closely with your standard shorts sizing. Sail Equipment Australia Hikers are at the low end for pricing making them even less likely to cause discomfort in the back pocket region.

I think these hikers are a great overall hiking pant and for this reason I own and use SEA hikers when sailing on my Laser® whenever the breeze is conducive to hiking. Pick yours up today, you will not regret this purchase.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Tech Short Review: Gill UV Tec Shorts

Katie B. takes you through the Gill UV Tec Shorts. Available in men's and women's versions. 

Earlier this year, I picked up a pair of Gill UV Tec Sailing Shorts for my active weeknight sailing season ahead. I honestly didn't have a lot of expectations with these shorts, but since I just needed a lightweight, non-padded pair to wear once or twice a week on a J/70, I decided to give these a try. I’m glad I did!

When I first tried them on, I was a little skeptical. They are extremely lightweight and soft so I was worried they wouldn't hold up very long, but the fit and the length were too good to pass up.

 Honestly, anytime I find a pair of women’s sailing shorts that fit well, I just have to give them a chance. These shorts have far surpassed my expectations. I've been wearing them about 1-3 times a week this summer and I still haven’t managed to destroy them. That is definitely saying something!

As I said, the shorts are very lightweight, but they are also durable, quick-drying, and they offer UV protection, making them an “all-around” pair of sailing shorts. They’re very easy to move around in, they have adjustable straps for a better fit, and the pockets have more to offer than you would think. I've mainly been wearing these for keelboat buoy racing, but they can also be worn for point-to-points, distance racing, day sailing, and cruising. I even find myself wearing these onshore a lot, as well.  They’re that comfortable.

These shorts were designed for sailing in warm climates, but they’re versatile enough that I plan to wear tights under them so that I can continue to wear them into the fall. I definitely want to get as much out of them as I can! If you’re in the market for a non-padded pair of sailing shorts, you’ll want to check these out.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Zhik Aroshell Review

Andy from Customer Service takes a closer look at the Zhik Aroshell.  

Although from the light inshore category, don't let the name fool you.  The Aroshell is the only one in the category that is a 3 layer laminate with fully taped seams, which will keep you dry, yet cool since the fabric is breathable.   

The outside layer is a weatherproof (wind and water proof) layer designed with stretch made of woven polyester.  The middle layer is a “Monolithic Membrane” (Zhik’s Proprietary waterproofing Layer) that is waterproof and breathable.   The inner protective laminate is made of a tricot mesh which keeps this material breathable.

This jacket also includes waterproof pocket zippers, to keep all your valuable bits (roll of tape, multi tool, cell phone, keys, wallet) dry .  With Velcro enclosure on the cuffs, and a elastic cinch on the waist, this jacket will fit you like a glove, with comfort and flexibility.

The Aroshell has a removable hood that attaches to the collar with a zipper.  This can be easily removed for storage in your pocket in case of emergency or in your gear bag, which ever you prefer.   The collar is also has a fleece lining to prevent chafe on your face and neck. 

With full wet weather protection and minimalist style, the Zhik Aeroshell is designed to be lightweight, flexible and comfortable on and off the water.  When performance matters, the Aroshell is what you need.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Line Review: Dyneema Blended Single Braids

Matt from Customer Service takes a look at Dyneema Blended Single Braids

As the category title would indicate, all of these lines are Dyneema blended single braids. Constructionally none of these lines have covers (as would be expected from double braids). They are all a mix of Dyneema and another fiber, be it the most popular polyester, nylon or Cordura.  They’re offered in a variety of sizes between 1/8” and ½” diameter. All of these lines are malleable, easy to handle, 12-strand (or similar), low water absorption and low stretch.

So what are they used for?  Dyneema Blended single braids are made for hand-adjusted sheets (mainsheet, jib sheet, spin sheet) and various control lines for dinghies and keelboats.

This is probably also a good time to mention that although the manufacturers might say you can use their Dyneema blended single braid in a winched application, I personally would discourage doing that. I think you would be better served using a double braid with a polyester cover, but we’ll have to talk about that another day.

How do they all compare?  All lines are soft and easy to handle. By feel: The Ph.D is the fuzziest. The DPX and Racing Sheet are the smoothest. The Swiftcord is the nubbiest.  Salsa, Swiftcord and Ph.D all have a fairly loose weave. This means they’ll all shrink a little in diameter as the line loads up.  Strength-wise the DPX is the strongest in terms of tensile strength but is also among the heaviest options. Second strongest is Ph.D. Swiftcord is the lightest off the spool followed by the Ph.D and Racing Sheet.

Because of their 12 strand construction all of these lines will ‘shrink’ a little when they are put under load. This means they’ll all shrink a little in diameter as the line loads up.  This is also to blame for why these lines might flatten out when they’re cleated in the same spot over time.

You probably would see this most often in mainsheet applications where you’re cleating it in the same approximate range all the time. The easiest solution to this problem is just to end-for-end the sheet so you are just cleating the sheet in different location.

Long story short: If you’re looking for a hand-adjusted, non-winched sheet or control line for any size boat this is the go to category. Great for mainsheets on boats up to 35’, dinghy and small keelboat jib sheets and spin sheets and for all manner of control lines and purchase systems.