Sailing Gear and Buying Tips
- Personal Flotation Device (PFD): You will need a sailing life jacket/PFD. The PFD must have a legible label that says US Coast Guard Approved Type III. Kayaking PFDs sold at outdoor sports centers like REI, Dick’s or purchased through Amazon will work. Some brands the sailors use include Onyx, Stohlquist, and Zhik (available at sailing stores and online). Sailing PFDs have big arm holes and smaller profile shape to allow for a lot of movement. It should be tight enough that it will stay on should you go overboard. If your hands are raised above your head, it should not not slip off. New sailors may arrange to borrow a PFD for practice until one can be purchased.
- Close-toed Shoes: Neoprene boots are more desirable for cool weather, although some sailors may wear them all the time. REI has good options for boots, and you will see sailors wearing similar boots at practice and regattas. Feel free to shop around for other options; ideally try these on as sizes may vary by brand. In warmer weather, some sailors wear tennis shoes, although they tend to get wet and messy. Closed toed shoes like Keens can work well for warm weather sailing.
- Water Bottle
- Proper clothing for weather conditions: Swimsuits, non-cotton clothing. foul weather gear as needed. As the weather starts to get colder, the coaches will say, “no more cotton.” You may have tech clothing already – basically wear base layers that are made of something that will dry more quickly than cotton.
Nice to Have
- Polarized Sunglasses: Don’t go out and buy anything terribly expensive as there is a good chance you will lose them if you go in the water.
- Wet Suit: Some kids borrow wet suits, others own them. Depending on winter water/air temperatures, the race committee reserves the right to require wet suits for racing in certain conditions.
- Waterproof Watch: Used for marking time at the start of a race.
- Sailing Gloves: You can buy sailing gloves at West Marine . Sticky Race Gloves by Ronstan is another popular option to the Gill gloves.
- Dinghy Smock & Trousers: Spray tops or dinghy smocks are foul weather gear and used when sailing in cold weather. Note that you don’t want too much of a zipper on the dinghy smock; the goal is to keep water away from your skin and you’ll stay more dry without a zipper. Most sailors wear also wear trousers/salopettes which are like bibbed overalls. A lot of our sailors wear Gill brand gear similar to Pro Dinghy by Gill.
- Wool or Polar Fleece Hat: You will want to keep your head warm when sailing in cold temperatures—avoid cotton. Wear a wool or polar fleece hat.
- There are a lot of online sailing gear companies, so shop around and look in the closeouts. They will often have limited quantities of last years model at 50% off.
- You get what you pay for with waterproof clothing. Coated fabrics don’t last as long as a waterproof fabric like Gore-tex. Gore-tex went off patent a few years ago, so manufacturers have their own proprietary fabric. With Gill they have a dot system, with 2 dot being a coated fabric up to 5 dot, which has multiple layers of waterproof fabric.
- If you are pretty sure you have quit growing and are going to sail in the winter, and want to buy a wet suit, you can get one for under $100 at local dive shops, and if you keep your eyes open, you can usually get one pretty cheap off Craig’s list. Get a fairly thin wetsuit as you will still need to be able to move freely and it will not be as hot if the air is warmer, but water is cooler. Some sailors buy wetsuit bottoms and tops separately (Amazon), but this is only if weather is cold and are sailing frequently in colder weather.