Y For Yachting

“Ocean racing is like standing under a cold shower tearing up paper money”.
- Anonymous

During the period that President John F. Kennedy was commander-in-chief of the Ivy Look, he was partly responsible for making yachting a seriously popular pastime, although it has to be said it was most popular amongst the East Coast elite whose dollars funded this watery sport.

Clotheswise back then, it was a very low tech affair. There were oilskins known as oilies and some hooded anoraks but mostly it was whatever came to hand such as windcheater jackets and waterproofed Arran and Norweigan sweaters. Also many pieces of army and navy surplus outerwear such as duffle coats, deck jackets and even U.S. Navy standard issue G-1 leather flight jackets. No clothing went unused - in other words, undisputably low tech.

Nowadays it is a different matter. Some of the most innovative technical fabrics are used for sailing gear. What happens to normal clothing while sailing is the salt quickly clogs the fabric membrane and it ceases to perform its function of keeping you warm and dry. Apparently layering is the right way to go. For amateurs It’s better to have several thin layers than one thick one.

Really serious sailors have a wide choice of technical clothing with creative designs and colours. Clothes are designed for easy movement as well as weather protection. For example, a reinforced seat and knees for trousers with taped seams and elasticated waist. A jacket with hood and waterproof seams, covered zipper and adjustable cuffs. Non-slip deck shoes are essential and a peaked sailing cap and wrap-around sunglasses will protect your eyes from the glare of the sun as well as adding personal style. One of the biggest innovations has been battery-powered clothing that actively keeps you warm.

For those who are not afraid of getting smashed by a 10 foot wave in their pursuit of high seas excitement there are several yachting brands you should know about. The big name brands are ZHIK, Musto, North Sails, Slamm, Helly Hansen, Nautica and Henri Lloyd and for dingy sailors, Gill Marine.

You can always rent sailing clothes the first time you go out to sea. This way you will see the difference between a hiking jacket and a sailing jacket. And don’t forget the Sperry Topsiders, the deck shoes of choice which are a varitable passport to the Ivy Look. I have to say land lovers will also look good in most of the above.

Written and illustrated by Graham Marsh
Illustrations: Copyright Graham Marsh

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About Graham Marsh

Graham Marsh is an art director, illustrator and writer. He has written and art directed many ground-breaking visual books including The Cover Art of Blue Note Records, volumes 1 and 2, East Coasting and California Cool. He has co-authored and art directed Denim: From Cowboys to Catwalks and a series of books with Tony Nourm and on movie posters. More recent books are The Ivy Look, Hollywood and the Ivy Look, Jazz Festival, The Beat Scene, French New Wave: A Revolution in Design and a 50th Anniversary volume on Woodstock plus a book on the early years of Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club. He is author and illustrator of a children’s book called Max and the Lost Note. Marsh’s illustrations have appeared in magazines, newspapers and on many CD and album covers. He has contributed to numerous publications including Country Life and Financial Times.