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Good for all

Yacht Racing Podcast

The use of naturally sourced rubber has allowed a remarkable step up in the sustainable manufacturing of technical clothing.

High performance on the racecourse can come at a high cost to the environment, but Zhik’s new range of X wetsuits are performance-enhancing whilst being the least environmentally impactful yet seen in the sailing market.

The new X range of wetsuits aims to deliver a higher level of comfort, mobility, warmth, and all-round athletic performance than previous editions, while significantly reducing environmental impact. This is because Zhik has become the first manufacturer of sailing wetsuits to build its garments from Yulex natural rubber rather than traditional neoprene construction.

The integrated Yulex foam is a hardy plant-based material made from naturally sourced rubber. It was designed to replace the toxic production process of neoprene, which for many decades has been the material of choice for most wetsuit production. The new X range has no need for neoprene, thereby reducing the toxic aspects of wetsuit manufacture with absolutely no compromise to their performance on the racecourse.

The new X wetsuits are offered in a much broader choice of sizing, available in a wide range of body types and with a greater focus on the different shapes and sizing requirements for male and female sailors. Thanks to the new 3D body-mapped design, each wetsuit is tailored more closely to the individual to provide more comfort and a better fit.

Main image: The new X range of wetsuits from Zhik are made from natural Yulex rubber instead of neoprene, which is toxic to produce and hard to recycle. A much broader choice of sizing in a wide range of body types.

For the first time, there are more female sizing options than there are for men, and Zhik has created a female specific design, with an interlocking top and pants, as an alternative to the skiff suit.

Drue Kerr, senior designer at Zhik, has worked hard with his team and a number of high-level sailors to research and develop the latest range. ‘We are proud to introduce our new line of X wetsuits, which have been designed in collaboration with world-renowned athletes from the Olympic classes and SailGP. Both the Superwarm X and the Microfleece X incorporate the highest quality materials and innovative technology to provide superior thermal insulation, comfort and mobility.

‘The new products demonstrate our ongoing commitment to a more sustainable future. Coupled with the rollout of new recycling programme, “reZHIKle”, we’re starting to close the loop on our environmental impact. Our material selection ensures the smallest impact possible at the start of a product lifecycle and the highest quality through the life of garment. We’re not only helping to protect the environment but we’re providing athletes with gear they can feel good about using.’

ReZHIKle is a recycling scheme which has already been rolled out successfully in Australia and New Zealand, enabling customers to bring in their old wetsuits which Zhik then sends to Upparel, a recycling brand. Damaged wetsuits are then shredded to create gym flooring, outdoor playground equipment and rubber protective mats, so the environmental waste from the wetsuit’s lifecycle is vastly improved.

In terms of their performance on and in the water, a major advantage over previous generations of wetsuit is the integration of graphene-infused fabrics which can return up to 20 per cent more body heat. This keeps the wearer warmer for longer, while increasing the ability to regulate temperatures in low intensity activity as well as speeding up the drying process. And anyone who has experienced that unpleasant feeling of climbing into a cold, soggy wetsuit on the second or subsequent day of a week-long regatta will certainly appreciate the quick-drying of the X garments.

The Superwarm X range is completely lined with a new ultrafast dry fleece, which provides instant warmth and dries rapidly to keep athletes warm throughout a session on the water. It also features GBS (glued and blind stitched) seams and internal taping to ensure a water-tight fit, providing the ultimate protection against very cold water and wind chill.

The new range of X garments has been extensively battle-tested by some of the best in the business. Hattie Rogers is one of Britain’s most accomplished high performance foiling sailors, competing in the singlehanded Waszp foiling dinghy and more recently signed up to Ineos Britannia for the Youth America’s Cup this autumn in Barcelona.

‘My favourite garment from the range is the Yulex Microfleece X Top,’ says Rogers. ‘I tested it in the middle of the UK winter whilst Waszp sailing and I stayed nice and warm throughout the session on the water and when packing up the boat afterwards. I’ve always found it easy to move in my Zhik kit but this top in particular allows me to sail without feeling restricted in any way.’

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