Winter is coming, so get ready to crack the ice off your boat before heading out on the water. Though it’s not quite as relaxing as summer cruising, the winter season can offer some of the most exciting opportunities for racing as well as for just blasting around and making the most of the wind. That said, you need to prepare properly and be wearing the right gear.
An absolute must. Keep your head warm with a lightweight, microfleece-lined beanie that won’t absorb water. We love the Gill i3 Beanie Hat because it fits really snugly over your ears, meaning it won’t be blowing away in the gusts.
Don’t let icy spray dampen your spirits, a well-fitting spray top will keep your torso dry and help maintain your core temperature. If you’re wearing hikers, tuck your spray top into them and wear the suspenders over the top to trap your body heat in and prevent any cold air or water leaking in. A fleece-lined spray top like the Gul Race Lite will add an extra layer of insulation. Alternatively, you could wear a lightweight fleece under a normal spray top, just be sure you won’t mind it getting wet.
Upgrade to a 5mm wetsuit for a full body of warmth in the colder months. The Gill Thermoskin is a great 5/3mm wetsuit, designed for optimum thermal insulation whilst staying super stretchy – meaning you can keep toasty without getting bogged down by bulky layers. Another useful feature of the Thermoskin is that it’s compatible with Gill’s Performance Hiking Pads, so you’ll still be able to have the same level of support for hiking as you would wearing ordinary hikers on a warmer day. It’s also available for women too, so there’s no excuse for not getting on the water, ladies.
Literally or metaphorically, we don’t want you getting cold feet this winter, which is why we’re recommending you keep your toes toasty with 5mm of neoprene. Look for a robust boot with excellent grip to keep you steady on those slippery slipways like the Gul All Purpose 5mm Boot. Keep in mind that if you’re wearing a drysuit, you may need to go up a size to ensure your boots fit comfortable over the socks.
Upgrade your summer boots with a pair of wetsuit socks for the colder months, or wear with a pair of winter boots if you really feel the cold. You may find it worth investing in boots in a size up though, else you may find your feet end up pretty uncomfortable.
Choosing sailing gloves is a personal choice, as with a thicker glove you will lose a little dexterity, which some sailors are reluctant to sacrifice. My personal view is that if you can’t feel your fingers then you’re effectively losing all dexterity anyway, so I would recommend upgrading to a full finger glove. For warmth, a 3mm neoprene glove is best, like Gill’s Winter Gloves. However, you’ll generally find you have more grip with something like the Gul Evogrip Gloves, so it’s largely down to personal preference which is more important to you.
An easy way to add some additional core insulation is to wear a thermal neoprene top under your wetsuit or other layers. The Gul Code Zero 3mm Thermo is perfect for this because it’s high-stretch and titanium lined, meaning it reflects heat back onto your body.
Not keen on neoprene? A drysuit is the ultimate winter upgrade. Opt for one designed for dinghy sailing like the Gill Dinghy Drysuit, so you can be confident that you’ll have enough flexibility to sail at your usual level. Layer up underneath to stay warm and keep that water out. Check out our guide to drysuit layering if you’re not sure what to wear.
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