Clothing for small boat sailing

Sailing Clothing: The important thing with sailing a laser is to be warm enough, but the boat is quite physical so once you get moving you will soon warm up. There are various clothing options for sailing a laser, depending on weather. In winter time I tend to use a wetsuit along with a spray top and a buoyancy aid. On my feet I have neoprene sailing boots. If it is very cold I have a neoprene balaclava and neoprene gloves. Rooster Sailing does an ‘Aquafleece’ which is a warm type of spray top, very comfortable along with hiking shorts.

Dry suits: Some folk sail with dry suits, which will keep you warm. I haven’t used a dry suit so I’m not in a great position to comment, but I will anyway. The Laser can be a very physical boat, particularly in fresh conditions. You don’t tend to see folk competing in Triathlons in dry suits, and in the same way you don’t tend to see many Laser competitors in dry suits.

Hiking Shorts: Sailing a Laser upwind can be hard work, the key being to keep the boat flat and moving. Hiking on a long beat is tough on the legs, the Laser is not designed for comfort. A useful option is Hiking Shorts, various types are available but the general idea is a pair of shorts with built in battens inside the back of the legs. These battens take a lot of the load, they won’t make a long beat comfortable but it will be considerably less uncomfortable.

Buoyancy Aid: In most competitions some form of personal floatation is required, but even if you are out for a lonesome cruise a buoyancy aid is a good idea. If you are doing adventurous sailing you should probably mark your floatation with your name or the boat name (it’s then easier to identify the body when your bloated corpse gets washed up on some desolate beach). An inflatable lifejacket is an option, but not really suited for a Laser. The auto inflation type will probably inflate at an inopportune moment, and then the manual inflation type is unlikely to be much help either. A lifejacket when inflated is very difficult to swim with, a problem if you have to catch up with the boat after a dramatic fall overboard.

Gloves: I don’t like to sail wearing gloves, but a long day on the water will take it’s toll on your hands. Sailing gloves are a good idea, or even gardening gloves.

Sunburn: Don’t underestimate the dangers of sunburn, the sun can burn while cooling wind and sea spray mean you don’t notice till you arrive ashore. A cloudy day can clear giving bright sunshine. A rash vest is a great option in warmer climates, also sun cream and a hat. Protect your eyes and look cool with a decent pair of sunglasses.

Watch: When racing a Laser a countdown timer is essential to get a good start. There are many types available, ideally you want to be able to set for different timing sequences and also synchronise on a later time signal.

Keep Hydrated: take a water bottle if you are sailing for more than an hour. The laser doesn’t have much space, but you can arrange a bungee on the cockpit grab rail, or secure a bicycle bottle cage to the mast. At bigger events I have used energy drink (SIS electrolyte) made up from a powder mixed with water. This helps boost energy level between races

Toilet: The Laser is not built with toilet facilities. These tasks are best performed ashore, although a pee off the stern isn’t too difficult if conditions aren’t too choppy. Not a task to be done during a race. Taking a dump is possible but perhaps not recommended.

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