Gear

The Emperor’s New Shorts

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Bad clothing is restrictive, sweaty, and confining. Don a pair of such shorts and go sailing and odds are impressive that you’ll feel uncomfortable and won’t be able to perform up to your potential. On the far opposite end of the performance/comfort spectrum are Harken’s new Sailing Shorts. These stretch, gusseted, reinforced, and durable shorts are hands down the best pair of sailing shorts that I’ve used in my 32-year sailing career. I tried them out for the first time at the 2009 Antigua Classics Yachts Regatta, a wet and wavy affair, and walked away a converted soul. These optionally padded shorts allow such easy movement that the emperor himself may feel restricted in his fabled garb.

I’ll admit that I’m a tough critic of sailing apparel. I hate wearing cotton anything aboard, as it inevitably gets wet, sticky, and uncomfortable. But moreover, I want clothing that moves as quickly as I do. In short (pun intended), I want clothing that feels like it’s not there at all, but clothing that’s also appropriate for aprs sailing bar sessions, award ceremonies, and even a casual dinner or two. Harken’s Sailing Shorts fit this bill perfectly, as they are athletic but fairly subtle.

By far, the best feature is the removable “stern” padding, two foam inserts that protects your rear from unpleasant toe rails and hard decks. The shorts feature a super-durable material on the rear (in addition to the shorts’ regular material in the back), maing these shorts about as bulletproof as a pair of sailing shorts can be. Their gusseted crotch makes them a dream for when one has to don a climbing harness to retrieve a wayward halyard, and also allows ease of movement for all onboard tasks and chores,

The right leg features an unobtrusive zippered pocket that’s perfect for stashing a mini-sized digital camera, racing instructions, or even snacks. There are also two deep, generous hand pockets that gobble up any typical on-deck gear (hockey puck, lip balm, etc.).

Harken chose a fantastic, quick-drying material that allows you to catch a direct hit by a wave and be dry and comfortable again within minutes. This material, made of bamboo, carbon, nylon, and spandex offers 4-way stretch, allowing unrestricted movement anywhere, anytime; the material is also antimicrobial, meaning that you won’t offend your crewmembers on day 5 of a week-long regatta. I personally recommend pairing these shorts with a pair of polypropylene boxer shorts or briefs (Patagonia makes a great pair). I used this exact combo during Classics week and was one happy sailor. Trust me, you’ll go far to find a better pair of sailing shorts than Harken’s newest offering.

$79.95. Harken, Inc., 262-691-3320

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