As a Laser sailor, I know that sailors have always been looking for a warm top layer to be used in cold winter days. For a long time dinghy sailors used either a drysuit or neoprene hikers combined with a spray top in cold weather. My choice for non hiking classes would, of course, be a drysuit, because you can wear whatever you want underneath it too keep yourself warm. On boats such as Lasers and Finns, sailors wear neoprene hikers due to better hiking performance. Because of the high reputation of dry suits, sailors used spray tops for the trunk and arms above different middle and base layers that similar to the ones used in skiing, cross contry skiing …
Recently neoprene layers have started to replace the spray tops. This probably mimics the divers gear which consists of a full neoprene suit. Almost all technical clothing makers have already presented their “innovative” products, although almost the same products (or at least materials) have been already used in diving, windsurfing etc.
Sandiline, small Slovenian company, usually leading the way in developing hiking gear for sailing have for a very long time persevered to offer spray tops as a best solution for winter months. After a season of testing This January they have finally came out with a neoprene product for the trunk and arms. Air Volution HWS isn’t an ordinary neoprene top we were used to see, yet a very well designed product. Compared to diving, sailors are not “full time” in the water. Water is, as you may know, a very good conductor of energy and therefore causes a diver to feel cold, although the water isn’t that cold. On the contrary the air is a very good warmth isolator. Having that in mind, they have used different types of neoprene - with holes (for a good isolation if used underneath a windproof layer) and a rubbery neoprene on the top sides to enable water to slip away without cooling down the body.
I have tested the product this January in Izola, Slovenia. Here are my thoughts. The first time I went sailing, I used the Air Volution HWS in combination with Short Skin 05 (a very thin neoprene layer) above Air Volution HWS and I just couldn’t believe that such a thin layer of neoprene could keep me warm. I even had a spray top on the coach’s RIB as a backup (yes, the HWS makes sense also under a breathable spraytop because of it's holes and therefore brethability). Although a cold northern wind was blowing, I was the entire time warm enough, I even felt hot sometimes. Therefore the next training session I used just the Air Volution HWS and I was warm all the time, although big waves were splashing me wet very often. I couldn’t believe that such relatively thin layer of neoprene can keep me warm for so long time, although I always had problems with being cold in the winter. Because I was testing the product I decided to test it in extreme conditions as well, so I jumped into the water and stayed some time in it. Luckily, I didn’t start to shiver, on the contrary I was still warm enough. I have used this neoprene on a few more training sessions to prove my first impressions and am still very satisfied with it. On a really, really, really cold days, I would recommend to wear Skin 05 or similar product above the Air Volution HWS to turn holes in the neoprene into air isolation space to keep you completely warm all the time. Some would here ask me why not to use a single thicker neoprene layer. This just doesn’t make sense in my opinion, as it is better to have gear that you can “upgrade” and “downgrade” in different conditions.
I would really like to recommend Air Volution HWS to all dinghy sailors that are in need of a warm layer for winter sailing. In combination with proper hikers, this is just a MUST have product. It is such a versatile piece of clothing that you will most definitely find it useful. You won’t be disappointed, I assure you.
CHECK AIR VOLUTION HWS HERE! CLICK!