Whether they’re racers or cruisers, bluewater sailors have to deal with whatever the elements throw at them.
This means their foul-weather gear has be as weatherproof as possible, durable enough to stand up to weeks of hard use and comfortable enough to allow them to perform at their peak—even when it’s blowing stink for days on end.
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As is the case when coastal cruising or racing around the buoys, the three-layer approach, which consists of a “wicking” synthetic base layer, an insulating mid-layer and an outer layer to keep out the wind and wet is now universal.
However, when going offshore for days or even weeks at a time, it’s important that both the materials and design that go into all three layers is top quality. The same less expensive waterproof fabrics, for example, that work well near shore will typically prove unable to withstand the heavy wear typically meted out off-soundings.
Similarly, you want to be sure that your gear fits your particular sailing style. The same jacket that works great at keeping the bowman on a cutting-edge racer comfortable would be a pain in the backside for a cruiser.