Since its inception in 2003, Zhik has developed and expanded to be one of the preeminent brand in on-the-water sailing apparel.
The Zhik signature logo is often visible on winning sailing crews, the latest of which was the crew of Gotta Love It 7, which won the JJ Giltinan Trophy for the fourth consecutive year, last week in Sydney.
Sailing journalist, Ben Gladwell (NZL), also sailed in that 18fter regatta as forward hand, and is regular foredeck crew aboard top TP52, V5, sailing out of Auckland, New Zealand. Their notable wins in 2012 included first monohull in the tempestuous Auckland Noumea race, and again in the 2012 Coastal Classic.
He takes a look at why top crews chose Zhik.
When racing high performance boats, keeping your feet protected is essential, as there is plenty of fittings to kick. And, standing on trampolines and wings can be painful in bare feet.
Zhik’s ankle cut boots are ideal for skiff sailing. On first impressions, they were much stiffer than the other brands (both surfing and sailing specific) we'd been wearing but found the Zhik boots slightly less comfortable when walking around on the boat ramp.
This all changed as soon as we got on the boat. The thicker and stiffer material not only was warmer and more durable than what we were used to, but they provided much more support to our ankles when on the wire and running across the boat.
The high grip sole also meant that there was less slipping when tacking and gybing. The gear has been clearly geared towards performance on the water, than feel in the boat-shop.
Wearing the right wetsuit when racing also makes a big difference to your performance.
It is important to keep warm while still being flexible and having full range of motion in your whole body. For sailing in moderate temperature waters, Zhik’s Microfleece skiff wetsuit is ideal. It is made from ultra light and flexilble 1mm neoprene, lined with an internal microfleece layer.
Our crew found that when sailing in Auckland, the skiff suits kept us just as warm as the thicker suits we had been wearing before, but we were much more flexible, and found ducking under the boom through tacks to be significantly easier.
Being sleeveless means that sailors maintain full range of motion in their upper body, ensuring that tailing sheets and pulling halyards is just as easy as when wearing only a rash shirt. We also loved the 'Loorip' Velcro flap, which means that a last-minute trip to the loo doesn’t mean getting completely undressed.
On hot days, we found that the skiff suit was best complimented by the Spandex Top. Being UV50+, it keeps the sun off your skin, so you putting on sunblock doesn’t need to become a team sport.
We also found that when wearing the skiff suit with the spandex tops, were actually cooler than wearing the skiff suit alone.
When there is a bit more breeze and you are getting splashed and spending a bit more time swimming, there is a the Titanium top. Made from super thin, 0.5mm neoprene, it doesn’t impede your mobility, yet it keeps wind and water off your skin.
It is made with an internal layer that is designed to reflect your body’s natural heat back into your skin. For material of its thickness, it is astonishingly warm.
The final item you need for trapeze sailing is, of course a decent harness, and they don’t come any better than the Zhik T2 trapeze harness.
Even when we tried these harnesses on in the shop, we were blown away by the massive improvement in comfort compared to any other harness we had worn before.
The nappy-style bottom and the lumbar support pad provide unparalleled support for your hips and lower back, while the built-in spreader bar prevents the harness squeezing in on your hips, spreading your weight even further.
Something that we had all complained about with our other harnesses, which most trapeze sailors will be familiar with, is the age-old 'front wedgie'. The stretchy material around the crotch means that you can make the padded shoulder straps nice and tight, so you can press on them to trapeze more efficiently, without discomfort in you nether regions.
Another feature we loved was the large, heavy duty buckle, which makes getting out of the harness at the end of the day with cold fingers nice and easy.
The T2 harness is more expensive than others in the market, but in this case, the superb quality is worth the extra dollars.
There is a long list of top racing crews wearing complete Zhik clothing kits to see more go to www.zhik.com and you will be automatically geo-located to your nearest region