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Sailing this Winter? Top Tips for keeping you or your kids warm from Dave Stubbs of CoastWaterSports

by CoastWaterSports 25 Sep 2023 04:00 PDT

Are you sailing through the winter? Do you have kids in RTG or Youth Squads, heres my guide to what I have learnt about keeping warm.

Contrary to what you might think, drysuits arent always the best! They do serve a purpose, they do keep you dry, but you have to wear decent layering underneath to keep you warm. The one piece huggy bear type suits probably arent the best thing either, I would recommend merino skiing type thermals as a base later and then some thicker mid layers over the top. Wear tops and bottoms instead of a one piece suit as the one piece suits restrict your movement too much. If you are buying for your child, also consider that they will be on the water for maybe 4 hours at a time, toilet stops are inevitable and difficult maybe drysuits arent the best?

Wetsuits have evolved so much over recent years that a decent layering system will keep you or your child warmer than a drysuit. Plus its a set of kit than the be worn all year around!

The most important thing to have is a decent long john wetsuit. They need to be 3mm or 4mm, but its not just the thickness of the neoprene that provides warmth in a wetsuit. There are other layers added to neoprene that give warmth. For example, the top of the range Zhik Superwarm X suit is 3mm!

The wetsuit must be of glued and blind stitched (GBS) construction, which means the seams are waterproof. So that any water that does get it stays in and gets warm. These typically start from around £90 for kids and £140 for adults. Cheaper ones will be flatlock stitched, which isnt waterproof or wind proof and are only suitable for April October.

The more expensive suits will have better thermal layering on the inside of the suits to make them even warmer, so there is always a reason why one long john is £270 and another is £140 you get what you pay for! In mens suits these suits will typically come with convenience zips

The entry level for these is probably the Gill Zentherm which is available in Mens Womens and Kids. The top of the range would be the Magic Marine Elite which is available in Mens and Womens

Check out our adults Wetsuits here

and childrens Wetsuits here

Next you need a decent water repellent thermal top.

 All the brands make them, they are made of polypropylene so are often called poly-pro tops but are also known as hydrophobic fleeces as they repel water. But there is quite a lot of difference between them. Some brands are rough and itchy and thin, whilst others are soft and plush. Please dont get these confused with rash guards. Rash guards do the opposite, they keep you cool. Rash guards are cold to the touch, a hydrophobic fleece top is warm to the touch. Some of the nicest ones we have, and best value for money are the Typhoon Narin

Check out our adult Thermal Layers here

and childrens Thermal Layers here

A Wetsuit Top or Thermal Spray Top - Or Both!

Over this you can do one of two or both of these options, purchase the matching top to go with your long john wetsuit or buy a Thermal Spray top. One thing to consider is if you are likely to be getting wet a lot or capsizing a lot. If you are then the matching neoprene top to your longjohn is essential for keeping you dry and reducing the chances of coldwater shock when you capsize. You can always wear a thermal spray top as well as.

Thermal spray tops have the same hydrophobic fleece welded inside them as the tops above. They are a good choice if you are pretty sure you are going to be staying out of the water 99% of the time


Gloves The last thing you want to do is to get your hands wet. If your kids are sailing then do everything in your power not to let them get their hands wet when launching as that will definitely cut the session short!

They need to be waterproof. Leather / fabric gloves that you would wear in the summer just won't keep you warm.

We have used all sorts of gloves in the past. Latex gloves under 3 season sailing gloves work reasonably well. The Zhik Superwarm ones work well but don't last. For younger Oppie and Tera sailors who probably won't be pulling ropes too hard, then surf type wetsuit gloves work fine

My son has been using, and we have been getting great feedback from others that these Showa 306 Sailing Gloves work well. They are cheap, you dont need to wear anything under them. They are waterproof. You can tape the tops to the cuff of your top to make a seal and best of all they are only £7.95

My essential kit would include the following..

  • Boots: 5mm Wetsuit Boots - A size too big.... to accommodate the socks (when buying wetsuit boots for kids I always recommend going to big, they dont need to fit like school shoes and you dont want them to grow out of them before they wear out. Adults Boots & Kids Boots
  • 4mm Neoprene Socks
  • 3 or 4mm Long John Wetsuit
  • Matching Neoprene Top
  • Hydrophobic Fleece Top
  • Thermal Spray top
  • Neck Gaiter
  • Woolly or fleece lined hat
  • Waterproof gloves

Thats what I have picked up from 9 years of winter sailing in Oppies and Fevas!

Hope it helps




Unit 6a Seymours Yard

Weycroft Avenue

Millwey Rise Industrial Estate



EX13 5TQ

+44 [0]1297 533633

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