DECATHLON's sailing sports brand provides tips whatever type of sailing you do (yachting, dinghies, catamarans, surfboarding…)
The three-layer system is as simple as it sounds but way more important. Three layers are your starting point and you can adapt them (i.e. take away a layer or add some) to the weather conditions and how often you’re on the water.
Fitting you like a second skin, the base layer (or transfer layer) retains your body heat and keeps your skin dry by releasing perspiration. This is vital, because sweat that’s not removed generates moisture and makes you feel cold.
Whether it’s hot or cold outside, it’s essential to protect your body with this first fibre-rich technical layer that retains heat well, providing great breathability without compromising movement. When it’s sunny, wear light clothing made of UV resistant fabrics that will protect you from the sun’s rays – try a polo shirt, sailing top and shorts or sailing Bermuda shorts)
This second layer should allow your body to stay at the right temperature, while also always enabling it to remove perspiration and moisture. The ideal mid-layer has a water-repellent softshell or fleece (or a combination of both) construction, so it can adjust to the intensity of the cold and wind to guarantee good thermal balance.
Fleece = light but ensures very good thermal insulation while also making the removal of perspiration easier. If the weather is changeable, water-repellent fleece features a membrane that will also protect you from the wind and rain.
Softshell jacket = insulating and water-repellent, it provides protection from drizzle. This windproof fabric means you can wear it as an outer layer (or third layer), weather permitting. However, once it’s wet (rain, spray) it takes a long time to dry.
Sailor’s tip: forget cotton garments, well-known for absorbing perspiration, but which retain moisture. The same goes for wool clothes which, when wet, take a long time to dry.
The third and last layer is comprised of two items: a waterproof sailing jacket (fisherman’s smock, jacket or oilskin) and salopettes. Make sure they’re genuinely waterproof and breathable so you’re protected from outside moisture and inside moisture is quickly wicked away.
Your choice of jacket will depend on weather conditions and the type of sailing you do:
- For occasional, recreational or fine weather sailing, go for an oilskin with a lower waterproofness rating (2 to 4 hours)
- For sailing in high seas, ensure you’re wearing a high waterproofness and breathability rating jacket, with a technical hood featuring a number of adjustment levels
Don’t forget to invest in a waterproof salopette , an essential garment when sailing in poor or very difficult conditions. It will provide you with excellent protection from moisture without compromising movement.
The body loses most of its heat through its extremities – that’s hands and feet and even your head – so don’t forget to round off your three-layer system with small but essential adjustable protective items. Here are a few ideas:
- Sailing gloves are designed to protect your hands from rope burn and the cold. In warmer weather, opt for fingerless gloves. In winter, when it’s cold and raining, neoprene gloves are the best solution
- A cap and sunglasses in sunny weather for on board sun protection
- A water-repellent beanie hat in cold wet weather to keep you warm while out at sea. FYI, as much as 50% of your body heat can be lost through your head
- Suitable sailing shoes or boots to help keep your feet dry and safe when moving around the deck
Avoid woolen or cotton garments – they’re well-known for absorbing perspiration, which will make you uncomfortable.